This week we have Rachael Brooke Winkley of
Rachael Brooke Art Jewelry, from Madison, Wisconsin.
Who is Rachael Brooke?
Rachael Brooke is a one-woman art jewelry studio.
My name is Rachael Brooke Winkley.
Rachael Brooke Art Jewelry is my business name which leads
people to assume that Brooke is my last name. My design aesthetic
is “high-style/low-tech” which means I design and craft stylish
jewelry using low-impact metal smith tools and techniques.
I have three design lines in my Etsy shop. The Classic Collection
has a simply elegant design focus. It’s a line of beaded jewelry
(semi-precious stones and cultured fresh water pearls) on my
handmade sterling and 14k gold-filled findings.
The Simply Striking Collection is my line of hammered sterling
and 14k gold filled wire jewelry. The Vintage Redux Collection
features jewelry made from vintage, antique or simply
second-hand metal objects: candy, tea and tobacco tins; aluminum
drinkware; serving trays and such. The sterling silver wire I use
in all my jewelry is 100% recycled.
What’s the first thing you remember making?
Geez Louise, I have no idea.
We were always making stuff in my family. My dad and I would
make Christmas ornaments and little sculptures out of salt dough.
He was finishing his sculpture/art history BFA when I was in
grade school. My mom made clothes and stuffed animals for me.
She was finishing college, too. We were broke, but I had no clue
back then. Doing without or making do with what we had fueled
their creativity, I guess. I also remember making gowns for my
Barbies out of plastic produce bags and twist ties.
Why work with recycled materials?
I think I may have answered that above. My parents taught me to.
Besides, it’s much more of a design challenge to take discarded
materials and try to find one more use for them.
Where do you work?
In May, I became an artist-in-residence at Mendota Mental Health
Institute on Madison’s north side. I’m part of a group of artists
who volunteer to teach art classes for the patients in exchange
for very low rent on our studios. The facility is located on a hill
overlooking Lake Mendota. My studio has high ceilings and
three big windows that look out into a park like setting.
It’s the bestest studio I have ever had!
How do you get from A to Z?
By singing the alphabet, of course.
What are your favorite tools?
My jeweler’s saw, hammers and well worn set of Swanstrom pliers.
What music do you listen to while you’re working?
I often work without music because it’s nice to listen to the sounds
outside. I find I concentrate better without it, too. I do listen to
classical on the local public radio station and jazz or world music
on WORT-FM 89.9 which is Madison’s community radio station.
If I ever get around to loading my i-pod it will have Laurie Anderson,
Beck, Janelle Monae, Cyndi Lauper, Brand New Heavies, Prince,
Mike Doughty, Angelique Kidjo, Harmonious Wail, Stevie Wonder
and English Beat on it.
What are the five best things you’ve purchased on Etsy
and where did you find them?
Please don’t hate me or kick me off the team, but I haven’t done
much shopping on Etsy. However, my favorite things include:
a really lovely handmade bag by rosybird and a vintage French
magazine style playbill for a nightclub featuring topless dancers
Read any good books lately?
I’m currently reading the Narnia series with my daughter, Bella.
I just read a collection of Dashielle Hammett’s fiction, which
I can’t believe I’ve never read before. The Thin Man movies with
Myrna Loy and William Powell are some of my favorite movies.
Been to any great exhibits?
The most recent one that comes to mind is the Chuck Close
exhibit that was at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
in 2006. His work makes my jaw drop to the ground in wonder
and amazement every time I see it. Seriously, how does he do
what he does?
Who inspires you?
My 87 year Tata Martha (French nickname for aunt).
My aunt has been through it all and still keeps on going with
a cigarette and a glass of wine. She still knits and can whip up
flawless cabled baby sweaters from memory. My mother told
her recently that I collect Vera scarves. This prompted her to
think she might have one from the days when
“we wore silk scarves with our wool suits.”
She found it, re-rolled and stitched the hems which had loosened
and sent it to me. Did I mention she’s 87? My Tata has more
energy and a sharper mind than many people I know.
What do you do for fun?
Crochet, shop flea markets and junk shops, tweet, hang with my
daughter when she’ll tolerate me, put my vast knowledge of
useless pop trivia to good use when Guy works on the New York
Times crossword puzzles.
Besides Etsy, where can we find your work?
Absolutely Art in Madison, WI has been a long time customer.
They are phenomenal at supporting local artists.
There is also a list of shops on my website.
How do you promote your work?
I’m trying to be a 21st century babe by doing a lot of tweeting and
Facebook-ing (hey, if google is a verb then so is facebook).
The Etsy teams I’ve joined and the blogs I follow have been helpful
in promoting, too. I have an email and postal mailing list from
doing art fairs for 12 years. Yes, I still mail post cards.
Yes, they work….really.
Have any words of wisdom?
It has taken me a long time to become disciplined about my
artwork. Creativity may be spontaneous, but it goes to waste if
you’re not prepared to do something with it. To quote Prince,
“there is joy in repetition”. So, dedicate a space to your craft and
dedicate time to it each day. The size of the space and the amount
of time isn’t the important thing. The discipline of creating,
brainstorming and visioning on a regular basis is important.
Holy cannoli, did I really just spout that bit of wisdom?
What’s in your future?
More coffee. More jewelry making. Fewer outdoor shows and
more indoor shows. More wholesale business and, hopefully,
more Etsy sales. But first, more coffee.
Finding our way in the blogosphere is ongoing ...
I've gathered up a few more links to articles to help with blogging.
A post by Tara Gentile of Scoutie Girl on CraftMBA discusses
why your blog needs a purpose, a method, a goal.
She suggests you create an objective so you can build
a community around your blog.
This post from Open Forum discusses
3 not so obvious things your blog needs:
1. a point of view
2. really great headlines
3. calls to action
Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media suggests an editorial calendar:
Why You Need An Editorial Calendar For Your Blog.
She feels it will increase your post quality, your post quantity,
your advertising opportunities & your subscribers.
My favorite reason is that the urge to bang your head against
the wall will decrease.
Rebecca Osberg, a social media writer, has some content ideas:
How To Write Content For a Business Blog.
I thought the part about blog design was important, as well as
the section on promoting your industry - go handmade!
My favorite article, though, has to be
5 Essential Blogging Tips from the Father of Chinese Philosophy.
Confucius had some great advice, which has been applied to blogs -
From knowledge to beauty, respect and consequences, and
not doing to others what you would not want done to you.
The author adds his own tip as well.
About what will you be blogging?
When I opened my Etsy shop last year, I did some research on
marketing my shop. It seemed that the thing to do was to have
a blog. I had always wondered why people read blogs ...
and now I had to start my own?
I had all sorts of questions about blogging:
What do I write about?
How often should I post?
How should I set up my blog?
Should I have advertisements on my blog?
Should I have giveaways?
How personal does this have to get?
Who will follow my blog?
You can Google just about anything there is to do with blogging,
but I have picked a few posts that were of interest to me,
hoping that maybe they will be of interest to you, too.
Design Sponge: Biz Ladies: Using a Blog to Grow Your Business
Unamimous Craft: Write a Better Blog 101
This post links to quite a few other articles on blogging.
The first one talks about habits of effective bloggers, another
about what makes a good blog, while most discuss how to
come up with content.
Copyblogger: Write Less
This post I liked because it tells you that you can write one post
a week. It just has to be a 'good' post. As we all know, things
get better with practice - ah, the conundrum!
I am not an expert in blogging, and I do not blog every day.
I do like it, though.
And I have found a blogoshpere full of
obsessed people just like me.
So sometimes I blog about that.
What do you blog about?
This week we have Millie, the miss who IS
Miss Courageous , as well as Buckle Up, from Boise, ID.
All of the things she makes used to be something else.
It's been called upcycling, recycling, repurposing,
trash to treasure, trashion, eco-friendly, crafting green, re-use,
reinvent, redesign, etc...
She calls it "POP Jewelry & Accessories" -
As in pop caps, pop music, pop a lid, pop art, pop culture.
She's been creating as long as she can remember. She left art
school and ended up with a career in the cosmetic industry,
where most of her artistry skills were spent on faces. When she
left the cosmetic industry in 2004, she focused on making jewelry
and using found objects.
"BuckleUp just makes sense. Upcycled belt buckles to hold up your pants."
This week we have Jodie, the owner and designer of
Lake Erie Beach Glass from Erie, PA,
halfway between Cleveland, OH and Buffalo, NY.
Jodie started her journey with sea beach glass several years ago
while walking the local beaches with her family. They have
collected many unique items including sea beach glass and have,
in a sense, recycled these items into wearable pieces of art & more!
Sea Beach Glass is glass that was once a beautiful piece of tableware,
a bottle, or a dish that once served a purpose for man. For one reason
or another it was discarded and found it's way into the water where
nature refined this piece of trash by tumbling it into a beautiful,
smooth, gem. It has been given back us by nature where we can
find these beautiful pieces laying on the shores of our Lake!