Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wirework, Color and Jewelry Designer Interview

Every so often, I spot unique jewelry designs that inspire me and make me want to know more about the creative hands and mind behind them.

When I saw Kerry Bogert's work, I was facinated by her distinctive and different use of wire and colors to make her jewelry. I can picture her wirework complementing many different styles and kinds of art beads. Her designs are fresh, exciting and contemporary, using innovative methods of forming wire to make chain, toggles, bracelets, earrings and clasps.

I wanted to ask her lots of questions about her work.

Several of her jewelry designs have been featured in the inspirational jewelry book "Wire Style: 50 Unique Jewelry Designs" by Denise Peck, her colorful necklace design landed on the cover of the Nov/Dec 2007 issue of Step by Step Beads magazine, and she has had several published articles in other jewelry and wirework magazines. She has a fun and informative blog and website.

She generously shared the following insights into her process, her studio, the creative flow and her future projects.

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

My name is Kerry A. Bogert and I am the artist behind KABs Creative Concepts at in Webster NY, just outside Rochester. My blog is

2. What kind of beads do you make? What kinds of processes do you use? What is your favorite beadmaking technique?

I create lampwork (torch worked) glass beads from Italian and American soft glass. I work on a GTT Bobcat torch and it is set up with an oxygen concentrator and propane gas. I use traditional techniques to make my beads. You can see a video of me making a disc bead.

I am torn between making hollows and stringer work as my favorite techniques. I love when a hollow goes perfectly round with a thin wall of glass and the way it catches light. At the same time, I love laying the grid work of intersecting lines that make my plaid style beads too. There is just something about those straight lines that makes me sigh with contentment.

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

I started making jewelry about 5 years ago. I discovered forums at Bead& that led me to the work of artist Cassie Donlen . Until then, my only experience with glass beads had been the mass produced ones that I saw in catalogs. I thought they were horrible and wondered why anyone would want to use such ugly beads in jewelry. When I saw Cassie’s beads, I said, “wait a minute… you can make your own… and they can look like these? I wanna learn how!”

I took a 3 hour class in April of 2005, rented some torch time, fell in love with making beads and the rest, as they say, is history. I have been making beads almost daily ever since.

Some of the important things I do for my business are stalking the craft section of books at the local Barnes & Noble (knowledge is power and I love all the inspiration that can be found there), following color trends in fashion for the people buying my beads or wearing my jewelry, and having an open enough mind to try any design at least once.

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

I moved to a new home this summer and setting up the new studio has been a challenge. I am still trying to get things settled in there. For now, the studio is in a large second basement with three windows that let in a lot of light.

A typical day has me making beads for a few hours each afternoon while all three of my kids are in school. The next morning as the kids eat their breakfast, I am cleaning the beads from the day before.

Mid morning is spent updating my blog and website, then I work on making jewelry with my daughter helping (I have a five year old fashionista that is my best and worst critic).

By lunch my little one is out the door to school and I am making beads again.

5. How do you stay inspired and motivated?

I like the routine of my day but to stay motivated I need to mix things up and keep my art life interesting. I have a ton of “craft” (not bead) based blogs I read. Their photography and projects keep me inspired.

I love going fabric shopping and the colors and patterns in fabric influence the beads I make. I have also been inspired recently with challenges that take me out of my design comfort zone.

I was asked to contribute on two new books coming from Interweave Press next summer, one on earrings and one on working with chain. Both are subjects that I don’t normally work with and they gave me tons of new ideas for other projects.

6. What type of beads and jewelry designs do you feel best complement your art beads? Do you design your own jewelry too?

For me, it's hard to answer “what came first - the bead or the design”.

Oftentimes I get an idea for a necklace or bracelet and I can’t move forward in design thoughts until that piece gets made. So I make the beads that I think will work with that project.

Sometimes, I get ideas for beads first and then design a project around them.

Most of the time, if the beads are intense and complex, the jewelry design should be simple to highlight the beads.

If the beads are simple, I go a little crazy with the wire design.

It is interesting, I find the beads I make and sell for others to use tend to be on the fancier side. For my own jewelry pieces, I love working with wire and want to show that off, so I keep the beads simpler.

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

Oh wow… big things are coming in 2009! I just signed on with Interweave Press to write my first book!! It is set for publication in Spring 2010, and I will be spending a HUGE chunk of my winter this year finishing writing the book and creating the jewelry that will be in the pages. I am so excited about this project.

I am going to get to show off the work of a number of my favorite self representing bead artists and teach jewelry makers how not to be afraid of wire working and color. It is a thrill.

I also have the two books I mentioned before coming out in Fall 2009.

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

I think the jewelry I make is really a reflection of my mood at any given time. Each of us has so many sides to our personalities and it is the same with my jewelry. Each piece is a chunk of some part of my personality.

Sometimes it is smart and sophisticated… sometimes it is whimsical and wacky… sometimes simple and independent.

The majority of my current work uses wire as the main component of its construction. I love sterling wire and add fun to it with colored copper wires.

I recently started what I call “The Lemonade Stand For Art” policy in my studio. The idea is to use up what you have before ordering more supplies. I tend to be an order-one-of-every-color kind of findings shopper until now. I have tons of materials just wasting away.

I started taking a look at what I had on hand and finding new ways to work it into designs. So, I started working with seed beads I had around for years now, and Greek Ceramic beads that I have billions of, and experimenting with colors of glass that aren’t usually my favorites. It has been great.

I do this with what I think are “bad beads” too. Ones that I think are not quite right, I save in bowls on my desk. Eventually, a project comes along that is just right for that bead and I figure out it wasn’t as “off” as I thought it was.

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

When I look around at the beads of other artists I look first at quality (are the ends puckered nice, have they cleaned the bead release out, is it balanced), then I am hit by the colors the artist uses (I really like colors), and then it is the uniqueness of the design (I like bold design).

10. What's your experience with getting a magazine article placed, and the process of participating in publication of a book?

I can remember the excitement of hearing I was going to be published for the first time like it was yesterday. It was actually in January of 2006. I ran around the house screaming my head off... "I'm gonna be in a magazine!!!! " Getting that first acceptance letter gave me the little boost of confidence I needed to send out email inquires to other publications.

My first tutorials were in Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazine. Once the first pieces were accepted, the editor got to know me and my work better. It allowed me to email her more designs more often.

What pieces didn't work for her, she would send on to another editor within the publishing company whose magazine theme it would work for. I would encourage anyone who feels like they have a unique design they want to share to do an internet search on their favorite publication and look into their submission guidelines. What is the worst they could say?

How I came about writing for books was through the magazine editor that first published me in SBS Wire, Denise Peck. I had sent in some new designs I thought would be fun for the magazine and she said she was working on a book and would I be interested in putting the new designs in the book instead. I love teaching wire work and I love writing... I feel lucky to say that they come easy to me. Being self taught, I think I know how to explain what to do in a way that is easy for beaders to understand.

11. What magazines have your published articles and designs, and do you have any upcoming articles?

I have had pieces published in Step By Step Wire, Step By Step Beads, Step By Step Jewelry, Creative Jewelry, Stringing, Bead Style, and Bead & Button. Coming up, I have projects in Easy Wire (coming Nov 2008) and look for projects in the Summer 09 issue of SBS Wire. I also have a submission into Belle Armoire Jewelry as well, though no publication date for that one.

I have tutorials on my blog, one is how to make a silver wire toggle that works great with art beads, and how to make a breeze style chain link.


I really appreciate the information, background and insight into her creativity shared by Kerry, and hope you enjoy learning about her wirework and jewelry as much as I did!

Reported by
Lynn Davis - expeditionD


SarahKelley said...

Love the bangle assortment and that crazy necklace!

LiPeony said...

wow.... she does some amazing work I really love the colors and different ways her beads look... excellent post!! =D

Pretty Things said...

Kerry's one of my favorite designers! She never ceases to amaze me.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to see that you featured Kerry here...she has inspired so many of us! :-)

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CrypticFragments said...

as an indie jewelry designer I love seeing other people's work and really enjoyed this feature...
the colorful glass pieces were my faves

my own ethnic~inspired handmade work is here


Customized Jewelry said...

Nice blog! I love your ideas which is used on jewelry...