ABI recently caught up with artist Joyce Slate of Mythos Jewelry. She talks about her business and presents her handmade jewelry collection.
ABI: Tell us about your jewelry collections and what inspires you.
JS: I have several different jewelry collections reflecting my varied interests in archeology, the marine world, and Art Nouveau. I use parrot feathers, ancient artifacts that I imprint, and found treasures from my travels. I find inspiration all around me, in tiny treasures I collect and turn into jewelry.
ABI: You use feathers in a very unusual technique. Could you explain that?
JS: I was aiming to create a technique that was new and unique, and I wanted it to be colorful. There are already many great cloisonné artists, and I wanted to come up with something different.
I had a huge collection of parrot feathers from a previous job working with birds about 20 years ago, and decided it was time to see if I could work them into jewelry. I didn’t want it to be obvious that they were feathers, though, and was imagining a more painterly piece.
I first create a setting in pure silver, usually from Precious Metal Clay. I set bits of feathers, layer by layer, with clear resin to build up a pattern. It may be a short sentence, but the process takes about a week and a half to complete.
ABI: You do many retail fairs every year. What is your secret?
JS: My secret? I wish I had one! I keep lists and prioritize constantly. Choreographing what has to happen when and planning out months in advance for nearly 40 shows a year can be overwhelming, but also forces me to stay focused.
It’s a challenge to “hurry up and be creative” sometimes, but I find that if I allow myself to re-create something I make regularly, it’s kind of like a meditation, and I suddenly start getting ideas for new work.
ABI: What interests you about moving into wholesaling?
JS: I have been exhibiting at fine art festivals for over 15 years throughout the country, and tapering off on that pace is holding some appeal. After analyzing my profits and expenses from years of exhibiting at art festivals, if I wholesaled the same volume, the profit would be similar. Doing it the hard way doesn’t get you any awards, and I’ve already proven I can withstand the elements, so I am hopefully transitioning into a new phase!