Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Designer Interview with Rosemary Hill

The Art Bead Scene would like to welcome designer and author Rosemary Hill for the blog tour for her new book Elements of Style: Knit & Crochet Jewelry with Wire, Fiber, Felt & Beads.

1. What inspired you to write Elements of Style?

I love jewelry making and needle crafts, and I had just started writing patterns for knitted jewelry pieces when a couple of friends of mine said they were talking to publishers about writing knitting books. I thought to myself "I'd like to do that!" And then I wrote to Interweave really quickly before I could chicken out! I had first thought of doing a wire knitting book, but they wanted it expanded to include fiber and felt. And I am so glad they did, because the fiber section has turned out to be my favorite part of the book!

2. Looking over your website, your business is mainly accessories for scarves. For the book were the jewelry designs ones you've created over the years and variations of those? Or was the creation of the book a great exploration in what kind of jewelry could be created from knitting and crocheting a wide range of materials?

Yes - I started making shawl and scarf pins because I couldn't keep my knitted shawls on! Then I really caught the designing bug, and had some some knitted jewelry patterns published. The book idea came out of my first couple of patterns, when I realized that my aesthetic was different from the other knitted and crocheted jewelry I was seeing. When I design, I imagine wearing the project in many situations. Would I wear it to a business meeting? Would I wear it to a party? With jeans? With a cocktail dress? I wanted to create a body of patterns for pieces that people wouldn't necessarily realize were needlework. I wanted the first impression to be "Wow! That's a cool piece of jewelry!" So with that in mind, I set off on a real exploration of different materials and techniques, and all of the designs were created specifically for the book.

3. You've introduced the bead world to a new material: stainless steel silk yarn. Can you describe this material for my readers and the possibilities it has opened to you as a jewelry designer.

My favorite topic! I love love love the silk/stainless steel! It is amazing stuff: very easy to knit or crochet because it is so fine, but with this amazing sculptural quality. Knitted and crocheted fabric has certain properties: the way the stitches lay and curl, the spaces between stitches.... The Habu yarn is wonderful because of its delicacy and its ability to hold a shape when you pull it into place. The wire portion of the yarn is angel hair gauge, but with the silk to strengthen it, the knitted or crocheted fabric is capable of holding lovely organic waves and ruffles. The Sail Earrings are a great example. They are very simple knitted triangles, but the project takes advantage of the natural curl of knitted material and the ability of the silk/stainless steel to hold a shape. The possibilities are infinite! I have so much of this yarn in my stash that I'm not sure I will ever live long enough to use it all!

4. What advice would you give to beaders who want to include fibers into their jewelry?
First and foremost: be true to your own design aesthetic. Second: don't let what people have done in the past stop you from doing something totally different. Think of creating different textures. Experiment with different types of fiber: silk, linen, hemp, wool, synthetics.... Think of color as it interacts with texture. Then get what catches your eye and experiment!

5. In your jewelry what comes first: the material or the design? Does your jewelry come from sketches or from playing and experimenting with the materials?

Both! My designs with the silk/stainless steel came from playing with the material and asking myself "what would happen if....?" Mostly, though, I'm not a linear designer. Everything tumbles around in my head! When I went about designing the projects in the book, I decided what materials I wanted to use, and then with a set of parameters in mind, I threw everything together in my mind and came up with mental images of the pieces I wanted to do. Then I put them down on paper as quickly as I could! Once in awhile, the materials would behave differently, but mostly, the finished pieces were what I had visualized.
6. What are your influences and inspirations for your jewelry designs?

I've always found this to be the most difficult question to answer! I guess I mostly find inspiration outdoors, but not really directly. I love being outside walking or biking, and when I am, I invariably come back with all sorts of ideas. Other than that, I have always soaked up every sort of visual around me: yarns, beads, metals, stones, shapes, colors, architecture, photography, organic forms, clothing design, cars, bicycles, appliances, you name it! I just love looking at it all.

7. What would we most likely find in your hands: knitting needles, crochet hook or pliers?
Right now, I would have to say pliers! If you had asked me two months ago, it would have been knitting needles. That is what I love so much about what I do; it is never boring, always changing, always interesting.

I want to thank Rosemary and Interweave Press for including the Art Bead Scene on this fun virtual book tour. Here is the schedule for the other blogs on the tour, follow along to learn even more about Rosemary and her book:

Dec. 15: Scout J

Dec. 16: Art Bead Scene

Dec. 17: And She Knits Too!

Dec. 18: Sweater Surgery

Dec. 19: Turtlegirl’s Bloggy Thing


Valerie said...

I blogged about this book earlier today! http://valerieaharoni.com/2008/12/joy-of-new-books.html
And the steel yarn is something I find facinating!

Andrew Thornton said...

This makes me want to learn how to knit and crochet!