Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jewelry Designer Interview: Margot Potter

1. What are your personal name, business name, website and location?

My name is Margot Potter. I go by many silly monikers I make up for my own amusement, but my brand is me. Margot Potter. www.margotpotter.com I am located at a top secret school house/art studio/homestead in Rural PA Amish Country.

2. What kind of jewelry do you make? What types of materials do you prefer? What kinds of art beads do you use?

I make all kinds of jewelry with a hugely eclectic aesthetic. The designs vary based on their applications, if I am working for a manufacturer I'm coming up with unique ways to showcase their materials. For a magazine, I am usually working to a theme. For my books, I am making things that are aesthetically pleasing, fashion conscious and fairly easy and affordable for the average consumer to reproduce. I prefer sparkly materials sometimes, organic materials sometimes, repurposed materials sometimes...depends on my ever shifting mood. I string, I dangle, I solder, I alter, I make my own bits and beads...it's a never ending morphing wonderland of creativity in my world. Honestly, because most of my work is for magazines, catalogs and books, I haven't used nearly enough art beads. The publishers often ask that authors/designers use less expensive beads or even big box craft store beads; I push the envelope as much as I can because I don't like to make cheap looking jewelry. I have been trying to get away from using any mass produced beads of questionable origin because I don't like the labor conditions in the factories that produce these beads.

I have a deep love for hand crafted things. My husband and I had a gallery of international Fair Trade art and craft (along with beads we eventually removed because the dichotomy was too difficult) for five years, I treasure the beauty of the handmade. Lately I've begun making my own beads and components, which is richly rewarding. I have used Kazuri West beads and Earthenwood Studio beads (along with other ceramic and metal beads) in my work and honestly I love the depth they give my designs! We used to carry amazing poly clay beads by Stevie Didn't Do It in our shop that are to this day some of the most intricate poly beads I've ever seen. He was ahead of his time. My name is Potter...so I have a weakness for clay, porcelain and ceramic beads. I also love art glass, PMC, cast metal and other hand made beads.

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

I studied briefly with an Apache medicine man and through those connections learned basic seed bead techniques. Then I started making jewelry for myself and for friends. I quickly realized that I did not have the patience for seed bead work. When I went to grad school, I met my husband at his bead store. We got married and opened a store of our own and that's when I started really getting into jewelry making. How could I help it, there were shelves full of beads at my disposal?! I made finished jewelry that Beadalon™ started buying for their catalog. It's a long story but eventually, after my entire life fell to hell in a hand basket, I created this career. It's been a wild ride. Since I am a professional designer who sells concepts and ideas, it's very different from a retail jewelry situation. I have to work tirelessly to keep my name out there, promote my books and magazine work, boost readership on my blog, come up with fresh ideas, make new connections, find new materials and shift with the ever shifting whims of the craft world. I do all of it by myself for the most part and sometimes I am totally overwhelmed.

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

I live in a two story 126 year old former Amish School House and Union Hall. The rooms have 10 foot ceilings and the windows are about 6 feet tall. My studio is on the second floor and it opens into my bedroom. It's flooded with light and it's huge and it looks out over our picture postcard Amish farm filled valley, which is an amazing change from the crappy kitchen table I worked on when I wrote my first book. There is no typical day. It's always different, depending on my current roster. Sometimes project making days, instruction writing days, book proposal days, endlessly tedious email writing days, contacting manufacturers days, QVC on air days, studio organization days, brainstorming new idea days, shameless self promotion days...it's a pu pu platter.

5. How do you stay inspired and motivated?

I am constantly inspired by the world around me, so it's never a matter of staying inspired as much as it's a matter of getting through the queue of ideas in my brain. There is so much to be inspired by isn't there?! I am motivated by the fact that I am doing what I love each and every day. I get paid to play and explore and imagine and dream and inspire other people to free their inner artists...how freaking cool is that?! I am motivated by the fact that I don't have to work some craptastic job and watch my creative juices dry up. I'm also motivated to continue growing and expanding my brand for eventual total world takeover. As you can imagine, this keeps me pretty busy. I've been poor...and I've known what it is to lose everything you've worked for, it makes me work harder.

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

Although my main focus in beading is often on simple but complex looking architectural designs or on making my own unique focal pendants and components, I do love art beads. I am drawn to beads that have a very organic or a very whimsical aesthetic. I love Green Girl Studios beads, they're magical. I love Earthenwood beads because they’re whimsical and lovely. I used a ceramic bead from Russia a few years back, amazing and endlessly inspirational. I also love Thai Hill Tribe, Balinese beads and Nepalese silver beads. I love beads that sing of someone's soul, that express beauty and passion and artfulness. I love bead designers who take risks and play with color and texture and irreverent imagery. I have a gorgeous Kim Miles bead that sits in my windowsill along with a few other art beads I've collected along the way. They are miniature pieces of art and I want to keep them like Gollum and hold them in my hands and marvel at their beauty. I’m very much looking forward to finally attending Bead and Button and getting to know some of the American Bead artists I’ve yet to meet, and buy some new beads, of course! When I’m bead shopping, I tend to the unique. I like interesting colors and textures, so I am drawn to beads that play with these design elements. I really love beads that tell a story, like the lovely ceramic African beads from Kazuri West. I just discovered Anne Choi, and will definitely be picking up some of her exquisite and intricate silver beads at the show.

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

I am gearing up for a new book that will hopefully be approved soon. If so, I'll be working on that. I can say absolutely nothing about it. I'm sorry about that. I have to keep it on the down low until it's under way.

As for my work, I am currently finding that mixed media/collage/altered art style designs are exciting me and because I am a writer I love using text and image. I collect ephemera and like to use it in my work...which is an interesting and perhaps questionable thing taking something very old and giving it a new and unusual life. I've lately been having fun with Photoshop; it's a powerful program and opens up a lot of design possibilities.

Um, I also hope to be featuring some more art beads! Hullo!


Margot Potter said...

Thanks so much my friends! I truly appreciate it. Fabulous!


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