Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Designer Interview Katie Hacker

Hip to Bead by Katie Hacker (Interweave Press 2006)

1. What is your personal name, business name, website and location?
Katie Hacker - Katiedids - - Keystone, Indiana

2. What kind of jewelry do you make? What types of materials do you prefer? what kinds of art beads do you use?
The bulk of my business is creating how-to jewelry projects for books and magazines. I specialize in making boutique-style jewelry designs that people can recreate in an evening or a weekend. I also make designs for Beadalon that showcase their products and I present Beading Lessons on the public television show Beads, Baubles & Jewels.

I like to support other women who are trying to make a living by making their art, so my stash contains all kinds of art beads made by talented gals: ceramic beads from Earthenwood Studio & Jangles, silk beads from Kristal Wick, stained glass pendants from Lily Studios, lampworked glass beads from Stephanie Sersich, polymer clay pendants from Heather Wynn, pewter beads from Green Girl Studio, engraved shell pendants from Lillypilly Designs. I like to use dramatic art beads as the focus and then fill in the design with a variety of semiprecious, crystal, Czech glass and other mass-produced beads.

Fit for a Queen Bracelet from Hip to Bead by Katie Hacker (Interweave Press 2006, photo by Joe Coca) Borosilicate glass bead by Nancy Tobey

3. How did you get into jewelry design? What are some of the important things you do for your business?
I started making earrings when I was a teenager because I couldn't find any cool clip earrings for my un-pierced ears. Then, I got into making hemp jewelry while in college. After college, I worked as an editor and in-house designer for Hot Off The Press, a publishing company in Oregon. They had published a successful book on hemp jewelry before I worked there and I asked to be involved in the sequel. Since then, I've written more than 15 books about beading and jewelry making.

Being in business for yourself is a constant juggling act. I'm always re-evaluating the different ways that I spend my time. Blogging, having a website, writing a monthly newsletter, having nice business cards (and giving them out!) are some of the things that I do for my business that are difficult to measure in terms of monetary return versus time spent. I think they're very important but I have to be careful to not get so caught up in doing those things that it's taking me away from the creative aspects and actual work of my job.

Knock Out Knotted Necklace from Hip to Bead by Katie Hacker (Interweave Press 2006, photo by Joe Coca) Engraved shell pendant by Lillypilly Designs

4. What is your workspace like and how do you work in your studio? What is a typical day like?
My studio is a sunny, yellow room in my house. It has lots of interesting angles and is packed to the gills with beads and jewelry making stuff. Right now, I have to step over piles of magazines and catalogs to get to my desk. On a typical day, I commute up the stairs with coffee in hand and answer email and do any urgent tasks first-thing. Then, the rest of the morning is my creative time. I plan designs and do other right brain stuff. After lunch, I do more repetitive tasks like assembling designs that are already figured out, writing instructions, or organizing stuff in my office. I often assemble jewelry or kits in the evenings while watching movies.

5. How do you stay inspired and motivated?
Like a lot of creative people, I have more ideas than I will probably ever be able to accomplish. (But, I'm sure going to try!) I lay awake at night thinking of new ideas. I'm inspired by beads and jewelry making materials, so I keep a lot of stuff around and I'm continually looking for new, inspiring things to create with. I keep an idea notebook. I also make it a regular practice to look at magazines, books, websites and catalogs to stay on top of trends. If I'm in a rut, sometimes it helps to just take a break and go outside or work in the garden. The mental space helps make room for more ideas to come into my head.

As for motivation, I am a serious list-maker. I keep to-do lists because it makes me feel like I'm getting things accomplished when I can cross them off the list. I'm deadline-oriented, so if a particular task doesn't have a deadline, then I have to make one up for myself. Otherwise, it just keeps dropping to the bottom of my list.

6. What kinds of art beads do you look for? Is there a bead you wish an artist would make for you?
I think the first thing that often draws me in is the color of the beads. Then I'm captured by the story, if there is one. Right now, I'm in love with charms and have been looking for unusual ones. I like bead frames a lot - you know, they're empty in the center and have holes on both ends. Most of the ones you see are cast metal or made from shell but it would be fun to have them in different materials.

Oceanside Bling necklace from Hip to Bead by Katie Hacker (Interweave Press 2006, photo by Joe Coca) Pewter pendant by Green Girl Studio, dichroic glass beads by Paula Radke

7. What beady plans do you have for the future? Do you have new designs or ideas you will be exploring soon?
I've been working on ideas for my upcoming Fashion Focus columns in Simply Beads magazine. Each column includes two projects: a dressed-down version that takes less than an hour to make and a dressed-up version that takes several hours. I've been researching new products to use and am excited about some of the beads I'll be featuring, including ceramic links from Earthenwood Studio and flower beads from Jangles. And, keep an eye out for new books from me in the near future!

Readers can get a sneak peek at what's happening in my studio by reading my blog or signing up for my free monthly newsletter about beading and creativity at


Robin Beam said...

Katie is so wonderfully talented, friendly and fun!

Unknown said...

Everything Katie does is beautiful! She's such an inspiration! Great Teacher and designer!

Can't wait for more of your books!