Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Artisan: Designs by Harriet

Happy Saturday, everyone! It's a long weekend over here and I'm looking forward for a good quality of family time and crafty away till my heart content. Lol.

Now, first thing first, it's my pleasure to introduce you to Harriet, the artist behind Designs by Harriet Etsy shop as our Saturday Artisan. Harriet offers unique handcrafted metalwork, wire and wire wrapped jewelries. Take a peek at her studio and get to know here more from our interview below.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what arts/crafts you make.

I am an art lover. Art is and was my career. For 25 years I was curator of American art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. When that ended, I knew I had to stay in the arts, but this time I wanted to be the artist not the critic. I have a master’s degree in Art History, but never envisioned having a creative side. I began taking courses in metalsmithing about two years ago and followed that with classes in wire wrapping and most recently added the technique of precious metal clay (PMC). I favor creating pendants, but I also make earrings, bracelets, and rings in all three techniques. I am inspired by the art I have been exposed to over the years and am so thankful for my art historical and curatorial background. My goal is to create unique pieces that will make the buyer happy and their friends envious.

Which part of the creation process do you like the most?

I am still in awe of the finished product. In all my years as a curator the idea of producing something that others would love was the farthest thing from my mind. The fact that I can do it leaves me in a constant state of amazement. Of the three techniques that I use, I am finding that PMC gives me more options and opportunities to create really unusual designs. But I love all three techniques and plan to keep making jewelry using them.

For us who love to travel, could you share a bit about your beautiful town/city?

For the past 30 years I have lived in Carmel Indiana, which is just north of Indianapolis. It is an amazing town that has grown from 8,000 to 68,000 since I moved there.

We have the newest and most up-to- date performing arts center. There are no traffic lights on our main thoroughfare only roundabouts. We have an arts district, a large physical fitness center, and one of the most sports oriented and highly rated high schools in the country. Carmel has one of the best and largest libraries, an outdoor walking trail and the Indiana Design Center which houses unique furniture, art, and fixtures. We also have a newly built outdoor mall called Clay Terrace which has shops, a children’s park and some great restaurants.

What is your best seller?

I don’t have a bestselling piece of jewelry, because all my designs are one-of-a-kind. As far as the technique that sells the best, it depends on where I am selling. Etsy sales are mostly precious metal clay, my home sales favor my wire wrapped pieces and in craft fairs I sell more metalwork. I do think my work in PMC will eventually become the technique that sells the most, since it has so much potential.

What is your goal for 2011? And are you on the right track?

My goal is to make my Etsy shop a success. This is my second try opening an Etsy shop. I had one for about a year without any sales and closed it after becoming discouraged. I

didn’t realize that you can’t sit and look at your shop on the computer and wait for people to come to you. I completely changed my approach, and I have begun to attract interest and sales. I am determined to make this work, because I love making jewelry.

What is your favorite tool that you cannot live without?

My favorite tool is my butane torch. I use it for soldering metal, but I also use it to create fine silver pieces from PMC. It has saved me from buying a kiln, and it works just as well if not better. I have more control with a torch than with a kiln, because I can see what is happening to the metal. Take my torch away and I am lost.

Any advice for others running their on-line shop?

Although I am not yet an expert on what works and what does not, I think you have to really promote your shop. You can do this through social networks like Facebook, twitter and blogging. For an Etsy shop you should join teams, make treasuries, participate in forums, heart other shops and their items, and circle people, anything that gets your shop noticed. It takes time, patience and a never give up attitude, which took me a while to learn.

Saving money is important; tell us one thing you do to save money?

I shop around the internet until I find the lowest price for what I want. It takes time but it saves so much money. I also buy in bulk and during sales whenever I can.

Anything else you would like to share?

Don’t diet, it only makes you hungry. Smile when you are sad. Breathe deeply when it hurts. Always be thankful for today.

Stay-tuned for tomorrow's giveway. You don't want to miss it! :-)


  1. i'd like to see more bracelets in your shop! i love the cuff!

  2. I really really like your advice of smiling when you are sad :)

  3. I've l;eant that you always must learn and never stop to do that. And the last advices are really wise!

  4. I really love your extra thoughts: Smile when you are sad. Breathe deeply when it hurts. Always be thankful for today. These are so true! Also love the cuff bracelet with the circles. Circles are a favorite for me in jewelry.

  5. Exellent interview, I'm always interested to see what makes fellow artisans tick. I really like your work. Thanks to both of you for the giveaway!!
    I posted here earlier but it never showed up so I'm trying again...

  6. I love her art! You can really see the influences of her 25 years as curator of American art. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the giveaway

  7. I love her last comments about dieting, smiling, breathing and being thankful.
    robinlscott4 at hotmail dot com

  8. She has quite a variety of unique designs - more than just changing crystal color, or type of metal! I bead, but haven't gotten into metalwork yet, but I sure would love to!
    I'd love to see more earrings available!