1. What is your personal name, business name, website and location?
My name is Annie Ridlon, I’m an artist, teacher and designer living in Jamaica Plain, MA- which is a really laid back & artsy neighborhood in Boston. Moontree Studios encompasses all the eclectic things I do, including fine art, mosaics, jewelry, photography, illustration, and of course, bead making. You can see pictures of everything on my flickr, and for now you can see everything I have for sale at Etsy
2. What kind of beads do you make? What kinds of processes do you use? What is your favorite beadmaking technique?
I make Artisan Paper Beads. They’re similar to those crafty rolled paper beads you’ve probably seen, which are made from magazines or wallpaper, but mine are the next step up. They almost resemble glass or raku ceramic, but have the lightness and beautiful textural quality of paper.
Each bead begins with a large sheet of gorgeous original hand-painted paper, which almost a work of art unto itself. I cut the paper into long tapering strips which I hand-roll into beads, which are then varnished with a clear resin to protect the bead from moisture. I also use printed text, drawings, iridescent glazes, metal leaf, organza ribbon, and fine glitter to add some variation, making each bead a unique work of art. The colors are rich and variegated, and because they are handmade from unique one-of-a-kind papers, and no two beads are ever alike.
3. How did you get into beadmaking? What are some of the important things you do for your business?
I’ve been making art almost as long as I can remember. I learned to make paper beads about twelve years ago when I was a teenager, and first beginning to experiment with jewelry design. I actually hand-drew a little catalog called “Moontree Bead Company” with all the beads that I was making at the time, and photocopied it at the school library.
Then I went to art school and tried some other things for a while….. about a year ago I quit my cubicle job to start my own design studio. Even though it’s kind of airy fairy, I decided to go back to the name of my little bead company I started when I was a kid. It’s been really fun, and now I have plenty of time to make beads!
Generally I spend a lot of time scoping out color and fashion trends so I can stay on top of what’s new in the jewelry business, and I also look for inspiration wherever I go. I check out art galleries, weblogs, shops, or what my artist friends are creating. I’ve been trying to get involved with the art community here, so I can meet other artists or network with potential clients. I always try to be on the lookout.
4. What is your workspace like and how do you work in your studio? What is a typical day like?
I work out of a big bright sunshiny room in an old house with a lot of character. My boyfriend and I recently decided to convert our living room into a gallery and studio space (with some help from Ikea!) , so now we have lots of space to be creative. We usually have groovy music playing and a nice view of our big yard with lots of trees. It’s fantastic.
Overall we are pretty laid back; I get up pretty early in the morning, make coffee in the French press, feed our house rabbit, Ugmoe (otherwise he is a nuisance when I’m trying to work), and spend an hour or so checking blogs and email. Sometimes I work on an idea in my sketchbook while the rabbit supervises, or maybe take a walk and take photographs if it’s nice, and when I’ve collected some good juju together I start whatever project I have planned for the day. Sometimes it’s painting a big sheet of paper to start a new batch of beads, sometimes it’s a new idea for a piece of jewelry, or sometimes I go off on a completely different creative tangent.
5. How do you stay inspired and motivated?
I have a tendency to be a hermit-a bead hermit, if you will- so I try to make a point of getting out once a day to take photos or grab a cup of tea or hang out with a friend for a while. I have a couple of close friends who are artists, so we’re constantly bouncing ideas off of each other. I also work a few hours a week in a local craft gallery, so I have the opportunity to see all aspects of running a creative business. And my sketchbook is usually CRAMMED full of notes and doodles and drawings and ideas.
6. What type of beads and jewelry designs do you feel best compliment your art beads? Do you design your own jewelry too?
I do indeed. I have a massive bead collection, I swear I have as many beads as my local bead shop, haha. I like to play with all kinds of colors and materials, and I especially love using vintage or unexpected objects. But for the most part I’m a die-hard designer: although I love color and texture, I love it in measured and well-thought out doses. I don’t like gratuitously “beady” jewelry. I try to emphasize one aspect of a piece so that it makes a statement.
7. What beady plans do you have for the future? Do you have new designs or ideas you will be exploring soon?
I’m always up to something. Today I was thinking of ways to combine my illustration work, which is really graphic and almost “street” looking, into my paper beads. So that’s a new experiment. I’m also working on some non-bead related projects, like hand-painted vintage purses and a new obsession with tempered glass mosaics. Ultimately I’d love to find a way to combine my art with my mosaics with my beads with everything else!
8. If you have a discount code you would like to give our readers, please list it here, including the expiration date:
When you place an order with me on Etsy through May 1, write “UGMOE” in your message (That’s my cranky rabbit’s name), and I’ll send an assortment of free beads with your package. How’s that?
(All photos courtesy of Annie Ridlon)