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Bangles that made me gasp.


These Othello bangles are what caught my eye when I first came across Tamara's work.  I spent a long vacation in South Africa years ago and that's where my mind went, the beautiful colors, the intricacy, the uniqueness.  I was thrilled that she agreed to be a part of Adorn Atelier.  I asked that she answer some of my questions about her work and she agreed. 

Q: Your work is beautiful and executed with such precision. When did you start beading and was beadwork your first hand-crafting love?

I started creating my own jewelry in 2008. Designing jewelry is a particularly rewarding and satisfying activity and I want to keep doing this forever, it just took me a while to discover it. I started out in advertising as a layout and paste-up artist. I worked from home creating hand painted floral containers and Old Masters reproductions. I have always known mixed media is what I love most.

Q: What aspect of your work do you enjoy most?

I love to have the opportunity to design things with a challenge. I always end up with so many ideas that this improves my designs. With Elegant Garden, the challenge was to create beadwork that could be attached to leather since working directly on leather is difficult. The Othello Challenge was to take as many different beads and stitches and incorporate them into one project.

Q: What aspect of your work do you enjoy the least?

I would say not having enough time to do everything I envision. There are never enough hours in the day.

Q: Did you teach yourself how to bead or did you learn from a family member, or a teacher?

I started by taking beginner classes at local shops and researching everything I could find on the subject. When I finally learned the basics and started designing, I found a way to combine my art skills with the medium. My parents were both big influences in my life. I learned a lot from them. My father owned an advertising agency and worked as an airbrush artist and in later years became a woodcarver. My mother, also an artist, loved oil painting and would take me with her to her classes.

Q: How long have you been beading and designing?

I started learning the art of beadwork in 2005 and started creating my jewelry designs in 2008.

Q: Are you one to sketch, plan, design in advance or do you just grab your material and begin creating?

I love the entire creative process from the beginning till the end. I tend to start a sketch, rework it several times and then before finishing start the creative process. I usually end up changing the design along the way, always designing what I would wear. Love of beauty is the inspiration for my work, pretty designs with a masculine flare. I am always taking notes even in the middle of the night; you never know when inspiration may strike.

Q: Where do you create? Do you have your own workspace? Is it at home or in a studio?

I work in my studio in my home and have an office for my supply end of the business.

Q: Are you a neat or messy creator and once you begin a piece, are you always one to complete it? (i.e. do you have a box full of unfinished designs?)

I would say very neat but messy when it comes to my collections; you can never have enough organization and space. I am always working on several things at once and since I started designing I always finish my projects and I never give up on a design.

Q: What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I think the most rewarding response has been students telling me they loved the detailed explanations I give and that the jewelry is something they love to wear.

Q: Do you work alone and if so, do you find that to be lonely?

I do work alone and never get lonely; I love being alone with my work.

Q: If you couldn’t bead, what would you choose to do? Do you see yourself seriously experimenting with other art or types of craft in the future?

I have experimented with many different types of art and this will always be a part of my life. I have recently started moving more towards incorporating other medias into my work, such as silver and bronze clay, resin, wood, fabric, paint, etc.

Q: When asked what you do professionally, what do you say?

I am an Artist, Jewelry Designer and Teacher.

Q: What inspired you to teach?

I love to encourage others. Finding a way to inspire, motivate them and make them feel good about something they have accomplished is very satisfying.

Q: What is it that you enjoy most about teaching?

Teaching is always a bonus for me. I always walk away with something I have learned from the class.

Q: If you were giving advice to someone trying out beading for the first time, what would you tell him or her was the most difficult aspect of beading? What might this newbie do to overcome this difficulty and not give up?

Starting out with any craft you need to take it slow. Gather the information a little at a time-there is no rush. Never take on more than you are ready for. This will help you develop as an artist.

Q: When you create a new piece, what sort of things inspire or guide your work?

I LOVE Books, Antiques, Art, Architecture, Interior Design, and Nature-these are all great inspiration.

If you'd like to see what she's offering and sign up for one of her classes, take a peek over here!

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©Orna Willis
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