Sara: Please tell me a bit about you and your background?
Ruth: I began my working life as a research pharmacologist in England and just loved the buzz of research. Thirteen years ago, I left England and moved to the US for a year and my visa wouldn’t allow me to work so I explored and took some classes and did some volunteer work. We really liked the US and so just sort of forgot to go back to the UK!! We then got a green card, but by that time, I had become out of date with the pharmacology work and so I started doing lots of other different things. It was really a chance to “reinvent” myself - an opportunity that I just grasped. Currently we spend most of our time in the US but live for a short while in England each year.
S: How did you get into arts and crafts?
R: As a girl, I taught myself to knit and really enjoyed it, but then stopped for about 20 years. Then after I’d moved to the US, I was faced with the prospect of driving from Florida to California as we moved house so I tried knitting again to while away those hours (when I was the passenger, not the driver!). Shortly after getting to California I was wearing some of what I had knitted and a gallery owner saw it and asked where I had got it from. I told her I’d made it and she said she’d like to sell them for me. It had never been anything I had contemplated doing - but I decided to give it a try! And so I started with selling knitted items and then got into felting also. Then one day I read an article in a magazine about a new silver product - metal clay - where the product starts out as a clay with microscopic particles of silver in it and then you form it into your piece, fire it and clay part burns away and you are left with silver. This idea just grabbed me - so I ordered some and an instructional DVD and gave it a try! I just loved it. Since that time I have been certified in metal clay and taken other classes, included traditional metal fabrication classes as well. I now do less and less knitting - and only for myself rather than to sell - and just want to spend my whole time making silver jewelry. It was an odd change for me however. I had always felt like a “scientist” and here I was venturing into the arts. I think if I hadn’t initially had the opportunity to sell my knitting, I may well have never had the courage to try to make something out of selling my silver. It was just so different for me…
S: Did you train at college?
R: My college training for bachelor’s and master’s degrees was all in science. My arts and crafts training has come from shorter individual classes.
S: Do you sell your work? If so, where?
R: I started selling my silver work in galleries and stores but didn’t particularly enjoy it. I felt very removed from the customer and didn’t get any real feedback. I’d just hand over some work then pick up the payment - but it wasn’t terribly satisfying. So I started selling online instead. I set up my own website www.birdlandcreations.com (which I am currently re-vamping for the third time!!) and also set up stores in different online marketplaces in the US, Australia and Europe. You’d think being online would mean you’d be even further removed from your customers but it is quite the opposite! I get so much feedback and discussion with people from all over the world. People send me photos of themselves wearing my jewelry, tell me stories and why the jewelry means something to them……. Most of my customers feel like friends! I now sell exclusively online and although I am sometimes approached by galleries - I resist it!
S: Where do you find your inspiration?
R: Most of my jewelry has a touch of whimsy or humour to it….or a child-like style. Music is a big part of my life and I sing or have songs buzzing my head a lot of the time. So many of my ideas come from songs, such as “fly me to the moon”, “driving along in my automobile”, anyone can fly - from a song about Leonardo’s flying machine…etc etc. Yes, each of my pieces has a distinct name to it that I carefully choose and I think it is an important part of the piece. I don’t have kids but nursery rhymes and children’s songs are also very inspiring. I have done quite a few pieces of nursery rhyme jewelry - for adults. Birds also feature heavily in my design - we have a pet parrot and lots of birds live in our garden too so I am surrounded by birds and I become quite anthropomorphic with the birds, endowing them with many human characteristics!
Whatever I design, my goal is that my jewellery will ” make you smile”. I think that is where the child related things come from - as seeing a children’s toy takes you back to playful times, seeing a treehouse…..seeing a rubber duck in the bathtub…..hearing a story….they make you want to smile. I have a blog where I tell the stories behind my creations - why I came up with something and what it means to me. It’s at http://insidetheartisan.blogspot.com/
S: Tell me a bit about your latest collection of works.
R: My latest collection of works is jewellery with movement. I have just finished making some fish mobiles - but they are miniature mobiles that are earrings. I’m also using hinges in my pieces and have just completed “the secret garden” where you see a garden gate as a necklace, but then you can open the gate and inside are some flowers. Hinges enable me to have surprises - which again often evoke a “smile” - and I love surprises!!!! I also have birds in the collection where you pull the chain below them and it makes their wings flap. I don’t see a lot of jewellery with movement - like a little wearable toy I guess - so I’m looking at how to do pivots and levers and things like that. I have many ideas but figuring out how to engineer them in silver is the tricky part!
Thanks for your interest in my work. Hope I achieve my goal of making you smile :=D
You can also find Ruth’s work on DaWanda at http://birdlandcreations.dawanda.com/
This review can also be found at as part of my contributions on DIY City Magazine