We hope to introduce you to all the great etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 90th in our series and is with Mel of KemeJewellery.
What inspired you to make jewelry with nature?
I find that I'm inspired by a lot of different things, whether it's history, nature, tradition and lore, or combining masculine and feminine. With nature in particular, I always feel a little more at home when I'm in the wilderness. There is a sense of calm and peace that finds me, and I feel much more grounded and in tune with my emotions. The ability to find my centre when I'm in nature is really what inspired me to make nature inspired jewellery.
On your about page, you mentioned you took the leap of faith and quit your day job to pursue doing what you love and want (I thought that was incredible!) How hard was it to make that decision, and believe you can do it?
It was something that I definitely wanted to do... I absolutely hated my day job. I don't know if I would have done it so soon if it wasn't for my partner's encouragement. Being so unhappy, he really pushed me into taking that leap and pursuing my passion. Although it's a slow build, I'm really happy that I am in the process of turning my passion into my career. I wouldn't want to look back when I'm older and think "what if?".
Precious Metal Clay a difficult process? How hard was it to learn?
I don't find it to be an overly difficult process since I have always enjoyed sculpting and working with clay. This is also my passion, so I find it easier than many people who may try it out. That said, I am self taught, and I found that going at my own pace and not being too hard on myself was the best thing I could have possibly done.
Regardless, there are definitely challenges and difficulties when working with metal clay. Since I mix the clay myself from powder, getting the consistency right can be a bit difficult. If the consistency is off, your pieces are more likely to crack or fracture, and they may be brittle even after firing. If you get your consistency right, it can be really fun! Jewellery is often smaller than something you may sculpt with regular clay, so attention to detail and patience is key.
Getting to know your kiln is another big challenge. How your pieces fire are based on so many variables: temperature, humidity, altitude, how many pieces are being fired at once, the thickness of each piece, whether you're firing single or mixed metal pieces, the temperature gauge of your kiln and whether it runs hot or cold; the list goes on and on. Once you do test your kiln a few times, you'll get to know what works best for you. I can't tell you how many times it took me to figure out how my kiln works. I would follow firing instructions, and my pieces wouldn't sinter at all, or they would melt, depending on the metal I used. There was lots of trial and error, and I still sometimes get pieces that just didn't fire quite right. It's always a bit of a surprise, but I love it.
I'm trying to turn this business into a career. I've started this year with doing a few craft shows, and I'm really working on getting some more sales on Etsy by constantly tweaking SEO and seeing what works best. I think the next step would be to make some more pieces and take them to local shops in Toronto and see if they can be displayed there. Eventually, I would like to have my own studio where I would be able to teach metal clay classes.
What is a typical day for you like, and Keme Jewellery?
It really depends on the day. Some days, like today, I'm on Etsy and working on SEO, adding new listings, and posting things onto Instagram and Facebook... I should also give Pinterest a whirl. Other days it's really all about creating new goods, and my hands get dirty as I'm holding clay all day long. Then of course, there is sanding (pre and post firing), polishing, and buffing. Looking forward it will be market research and seeing what stores may be able to display some of my jewellery. I really enjoy metal clay because there are so many different stages of making the jewellery that it keeps me busy and I never get bored.
Check out the other items available from Mel in her KemeJewellry Etsy Shop!
You can also find her here:
Pinterest: Will be up and running soon!
Interviewed by Tingting of Lovassion, March 2, 2016 in Toronto.