Today’s Jewelry Artist interview is with ceramic bead artist Jennifer Heynen. Her business Jangles is located in Athens, GA and her colorful work appeared in many jewelry making magazines. She’s got an amazing array of ceramic products in addition to beads, pendants and charms- toggles, hooks & hoops, buttons, bead cones, and headpins. Please visit her site and her blog to see more of her beautiful creations.
How did you start doing jewelry (or beadmaking) as a business? I started making ceramic tiles when I graduated college. After a couple years in business, I received a glass bead making kit for my birthday. I fell in love with making beads. I then had my eureka moment when I realized I should be making ceramic beads instead. I got a call a few months later from a person at the Chicago Gift Mart, she wanted me to have a booth and come sell my tile tables. I told her about the new jewelry I was making with my beads and she gave me a booth. That was 7 years ago.
Do you remember the first piece of jewelry you ever made? Oh, yes! I received a bunch of costume jewelry from my Great Grandma. It was really cool stuff, I took it apart and put it back together differently. It was so much fun.
Every artist has a personal “creative process”, can you explain yours? I pretty much carry a notebook around everywhere I go to jot down ideas. Everything I see, I translate into ceramics. It just happens, I can’t control it. For example, if I see a purple orange, and blue flower, I say to myself, oh I love those colors together, I should make a piece using that combination. Or if I really like the shape of the flower, I will make a bead in that shape.
When people start doing jewelry, they tend to try a lot of different things before settling down to something that resonates with them, tell us how has your jewelry work changed since you began? I was making tiles and had the bright and funky style kind of figured out in my head already. It translated very easily to jewelry. I did not know how to put jewelry together so I was figuring out ways on my own to do it. Once I really got into jewelry making and reading bead magazines, I could assemble the better way. I also incorporate more beads into my work now that I didn’t make.
What would you like to work with/or what skill would you like to learn that you haven’t yet? Wood. I love the idea of making furniture. I know that’s not jewelry but I am sure somehow I would end up making wooden beads.
How many hours a week do you spend in the creative side of your business vs… the business side? I bet it is about 50/50. Sometimes when I am swamped I just make away, but then the paperwork piles up. I really like the business side so I probably do more paperwork, marketing, etc than others.
What inspires you creatively? The more things I make the more ideas I have. It’s a vicious but fun cycle.
Where do you sell at primarily-website, brick & mortar stores, shows, etc? Let’s see, I have my hand in a little bit of everything. I sell beads on my website, my Etsy store, at bead shows, and in bead stores that buy from me. My line of jewelry I sell exclusively through shops and galleries that are all over the country.
Can you tell us about some important goals you have achieved with your jewelry work? I sell my work in the Smithsonian Gift Shop, which makes me pretty proud. I also wrote my first book, Ceramic Bead Jewelry. That has always been a lifelong goal.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested doing jewelry as a business? If you have the drive, (you know if you do), then try everything you possibly can. Be open to new opportunities, and go with it. My business is every changing and I learn so many new things that way.
Do you have any big/exciting news or different directions for your business this year? I have some new beads coming out in the fall that are a new earthy kind of look for me. I am also working on my second annual, ten Holiday Projects newsletter. I send out a project a week for ten weeks to get everyone working on their holiday gift lists. I love the holidays and it’s so much fun to design all of the projects
If you teach, where will you be teaching this year? This is the time of the year when I am scheduling, so I can’t say too many places yet. I update my website with events but I know that Bead and Button is one place. I also will be teaching a workshop in Miami for the South Florida’s Jewelry Arts Guild but we are still working on dates.
Who are some of your favorite artists and crafters? I just got done reading some books on Howard Finster, he was a folk artist, I really liked reading about his lifestyle. In some ways I could relate to him. As for crafters, I really like Michele Goldstein’s beads. Peter Voulkos was a favorite potter of mine.
What do you like to do in your spare time other than making jewelry? Other crafts, I really can’t stop. I love to paint furniture, making pottery, felting, you name it I probably do it.