Friday, March 7, 2008

Designer Interview: Ishita Ghosh

1) What is your personal name, business name, website, and location?

My name is Ishita Ghosh (I am from India; I came to the United States as a student some twenty years ago). My business name is gianani (named after a medieval lost city). My website is and I am currently living in Missouri.

Earrings made with ceramic artbeads by Gaea and bayong wood.

2) What kind of jewelry do you make? What types of materials do you prefer? What kind of artbeads do you use?

I make two completely different kinds of jewelry. On the one hand, I make one-of-a-kind earrings many of which are big and bold. My earrings are not meant to be mere accessories for necklaces. I make them to stand on their own. For the earrings I like creating contrasting textures and tones and to this end use a wide variety of materials including natural stones , wood, crystals, shells, copper, brass, niobium, and silver, especially Thai silver. I have a strong dislike for conventional valuation of materials as 'precious' or 'base' letting the design determine what is appropriate and often I cannot resist combining something conventionally deemed 'precious' with something deemed common or 'base' . In the last several years I have been strongly inspired by artbeads, especially ceramic artbeads. I use artist-made beads as focal beads and then use other beads to provide counterpoints. I am particular about every component of the earrings – I give as much attention to the pins and wires and the earwires as the beads in the designing process.

Besides earrings I make wood pendants with miniature paintings. For this I buy wood from hardware store or use fallen branches lying in the garden (the recent ice storm gifted me with a cart load of wood!). After the wood is cut to various sizes and shapes I seal the grains before applying a base coat of paint. I then paint the design (which I usually sketch beforehand) using acrylic paint and finish the piece with three coats of water-based non-toxic varnish to make the pendant durable and water-resistant. I am strongly drawn to abstract art and pre-historic art, especially cave and rock art and my pendants reflect these interests . I have also explored motifs from sub-Saharan African art and Australian aboriginal art. I haven't yet begun to offer these pendants on my website but plan to do so in the near future.

Earrings made with ceramic artbeads by Elaine Ray with gemstones and crystals.

3) How did you get into jewelry design? What are some of the important things you do for your business?

I got into jewelry design purely by accident. One month I was living my life with little interest in jewelry and the next month I was awake into the wee hours of the morning frantically making earrings! As a child I enjoyed handling beads and was passionate about painting and sketching but my love for history led me to academics and after finishing my doctoral work in history I taught for eight years at a South Carolina university. There, one fine Fall day in 2002 after a morning of teaching, as I checked my emails in my office I found that the university art department was offering a series of weekend art classes for the amateur, including one on beading. Beading? My mind, steeped in grading and classes, went into a time warp and I had flashes of myself as a child rummaging through my aunt's jewelry box, undoing and restringing her beautiful bead necklaces. Without a moment's hesitation I signed up for the class hoping to have some Saturday fun and little else – instead it changed my life. In those three Saturday classes I learned various techniques, including peyote stitches (which I regret to say I forgot almost immediately!) but earrings grabbed me by my whole being and for the last six years have held me hostage! I am serious – I have no choice, something within me just wants to make earrings. Why? I have no clue. All I know is I love making them with a passion and a certainty I have felt for little else in life. I left my university job a year and a half later and took up beading and art work as a full time vocation.
Two of the things I do for my business that I consider important are paying attention to the quality of my website and connecting with other bead artists.
Earrings made with ceramic artbeads by Clay River Designs and gemstones.

4) What is your workplace like and how do you work in your studio? What is a typical day like?

I converted the extra bedroom in our rental house into my studio, which is packed to the hilt with stuff arranged on shelves (that my husband who loves to work with wood, built for me) and where I work at a table whose height can be adjusted. I have chronic muscle tension so the correct height of the table and chair is crucial. I do the design sketches for the pendants away from the studio, usually while sitting in the living room or in the garden. For both the earrings and the wood pendants I use the same table. This causes me to juggle a bit – moving my bead board and tools away to make way for paints, water, and wood. In addition to the studio we use the basement as well where my husband (according to my specifications) cuts and drills holes into the wood pieces while I do the sanding.

Miniature paintings on wood pendants -- Rock Art Series

While I am quite methodical in my designing process of the pendants, for the earrings I am quite the opposite. Designs for earrings begin to form somewhere deep within me for days as I go about my life, and I periodically come to the bead board and place a bead here and there or play with beads. I don't feel that I am in control of this process – it's almost as if the beads know what to do and they come together on their own. Only when the designs begin to acquire a sense of solidity do I sit down at the table and for the next two or three days work non-stop (totally losing any sense of time) and make eight or nine earrings. I know the design is right when I feel a tug in my guts and in my heart – and I know the design is incomplete or not quite right when I don't feel any such pull. I cannot wish a design into existence, it sort of “comes” to me. I love this organic raw energy that courses through my being during the creative process but it makes custom designing almost impossible.

A typical day doesn't really exist for me although I find myself always doing something related to beading, painting, or the business side of things even when I am away from the studio. I read constantly, for instance, about new painting or beading techniques, about pre-historic art, about new beads, about the history of beads (which never ceases to fascinate me). I tinker with the website, take photos of my earrings, think of new promotional materials, do web search for bead artists and so on. So a typical day inside and outside of the studio involves some of these activities.

Earrings made with ceramic artbeads by Earthenwood Studio with dyed mother of pearl discs and crystals.

5) How do you stay inspired and motivated?

Motivation has not been an issue as I generally feel motivated. As for inspiration – imagination, life, nature, travel, art all play a role (one of my first pairs of earrings was inspired by a Mondrian painting). But I would have to say that the main source of inspiration for my bead jewelry is the beads themselves – the unending variety of natural stones never fail to make my heart flutter and the absolute stunning creations of bead artists never fail to make me gasp. I spend quite a bit of time at the internet browsing through the works of glass, ceramic, metal, and fabric bead artists and always feel energized and deeply moved by their creativity. When I use artbeads I feel touched by the energy that the artists brought into their creations. Its tremendous! The fabulous Art Bead Scene blog has further opened up for me channels of communication with other designers and bead artists.

Earrings made with ceramic artbeads by Chinook Jewelry Design and crystal pearls.

6) What kind of art beads do you look for? Is there a bead you wish an artist would make for you?

I love ceramic artbeads – I love handmade ceramic. My kitchen is full of plates and bowls bought from ceramic artists. So it was only a matter of time that I began to wonder whether anyone makes ceramic beads. While four years ago I had considerable difficulty in tracking down ceramic artbeads I am delighted that these days I am finding an increasing number of ceramic bead artists whose work I celebrate not only by incorporating their beads into my designs but also by crediting them on my website. The 'Keramik' collection, which is the largest collection on my website, is devoted to designs made with ceramic artbeads and I am always looking for new ceramic bead artists .I am also drawn to glass artbeads and to the beautiful pewter work of Green Girl Studio.

Is there a bead that I wish from an artist? I am usually so awed by the artistry of artbeads that I don't stop to consider the question. However, I have noticed that often the more spectacular beads in an artist's collection (this includes ceramic and glass artists) are understandably somewhat large, intended perhaps as a focal bead for a necklace or pendant. As I make earrings I have been unable to use such beads (I usually do not use beads exceeding 1.25 inch dimension) and would be eternally grateful if bead artists would consider making similar beads in smaller sizes.

Miniature paintings on wood pendants -- Rock Art and Abstract Series.

7) What beady plans do you have for the future? Do you have new designs or ideas you will be exploring soon?

Well, I am intrigued by the possibility of incorporating fiber – felt and silk beads -- into my earring designs. I certainly plan to continue using ceramic artbeads and explore the work of those ceramic artists whose beads I haven't used yet. I also want to foray into other types of artbeads, especially glass artbeads. These days I have this strong urge to make single earrings – so that is bound to happen in the near future. Over the last years I have been asked many times what type of jewelry will go best with my earrings. When I have offered that perhaps a chunky (but not matching) bracelet would work best I am asked instantly 'so do you make any'? Having said 'sorry,no' for the umpteenth time I asked myself 'why ever not'! So there is some bracelet making in the future for me although I have to wait for the designs to start swirling on their own. And, I will be expanding my work on the wood pendants – exploring new motifs, looking into buying wood from sustainable forests, preparing to debut the pendants at art shows, exploring stringing possibilities for the pendants and so on.

8) If you have a discount code you would like to give our readers, please list it here, including the expiration date.

Please visit my website and mention this interview to take a 10% discount on your total purchase.This offer is valid until December 31, 2008.

Happy beading and bead making everyone and thank you Melanie and the Art Bead Scene blog for your interest in my work.

1 comment:

Claudia said...

I love the green ones...