First off, tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Eileen and my “Jewelry Inspired by Nature” is called The Stone Garden. I use the avatar, Purplesage333 in my Etsy shop at PurpleSage333, which relates to my photo of the Irish countryside and the Celtic fascination with the Number 3. Signifying the unity of Body, Mind and Spirit, and believed universally to be symbols of the spiritual balance between Consciousness, Sun, and Cosmos, I like to think it is up to us to find harmony and peace in whatever dimension we are in.
I grew up in a rural area of Northern New Jersey, just below the Appalachian Trail. With no TV or friends nearby, I learned very quickly how to entertain myself. I have vivid memories of two big tins of my Mom’s costume jewelry and buttons, and I would sit and play with them for hours. Little did I know then, I could restring them and make something brand new! I loved the surrounding forests and woods and had a blast collecting all kinds of rocks and debris, which I carted home, thinking they were some valuable, precious gem. When my family moved to civilization to be closer to high school, it was to the town of Franklin, New Jersey, aptly named the “fluorescent mineral capital of the world”. My interest in crystals and gemstones exploded while attending their gem shows and actually spending money on rocks! Also, while traveling extensively in the US, Mexico and Guatemala in the early 1970’s, I was exposed to the ancient traditions handed down through the ages, providing me with a new perspective – making jewelry! The beauty and simplicity of the woven beaded designs of the Southwest Indians and the intricate silver and gemstone creations of the artisans of Mexico and Central America gave me all the fuel I needed to begin my creative journey.
Now retired, I spend my days free of job constraints, where I can put my creative energy to work thinking of my next jewelry project, surrounded by my four furry, feline friends and a wonderful, supportive husband.
How and when did you start making jewelry and your other items?
Once my travels were over, I moved to the mountains of Colorado and began building a log home, using logs from dead-standing timber and recycled materials. Surrounded by nature every day in this pristine wilderness gave me a unique perspective. I was 45 miles from town and jobs, and with lots of time on my hands, making jewelry was the perfect hobby. My first creations were gifts for friends and family only. Organic and simple, I used macramé cord, suede lace, shells, feathers, beads and stones from my travels. Some of those vintage beads are used in my work at PurpleSage333.
I juggled the jewelry-making hobby along with a career through the years, consigning in various places and making gifts for family and friends. My work has evolved through the years – from intricate woven designs using tiny seed beads, loomed or hand stitched – to the work in my shop at www.purplesage333.etsy.com. Now retired, I enjoy the freedom of expression whenever the spirit moves me!
With the inception of The Stone Garden and the Etsy avatar, PurpleSage333, the essence and beauty of Earth’s natural elements are captured in designs of Contemporary, Bohemian, Victorian, Celtic and Southwest wirework, beaded and woven designs. That place in the Colorado mountains is now my retreat, where I am surrounded by natural rock formations, forming a kind of private “stone garden”, where these natural wonders provide inspiration, motivation, and a tune-up for the senses.
Since 2005, The Stone Garden has been featured in a New Jersey gallery in that remote area where I grew up. It is now a tourist destination and folks from the cities of New York and New Jersey flock to the area for its scenic beauty. Peter’s Valley Gallery is a National Center for Fine Arts Education and I am privileged to be among the community of artists showcasing their work.
At least once year, I sell my jewelry at a local, juried show which draws buyers from all over the Rocky Mountain West. I think being able to see and feel a jewelry purchase makes a huge difference, evident in the success of my show sales.
When and how did you originally find Etsy?
Vacationing in Mexico, my husband and I met Canadian folks, now friends, who have a niece selling on Etsy. When they found out I was a jewelry designer, they encouraged me to check it out. I was so impressed with the quality of the artists’ work and easy site navigation, that I was immediately hooked. I was a bit intimidated, though, since I’m not a techie and photography is not my strong suit.
What is unique about Etsy and what about the website do you like the most in regards to your shop?
I tried to set up a “shop” on another site and gave up in frustration. Etsy is so easy to use for a non-technical person. From start to finish, each description, photo download, pricing and tags are done with ease and efficiency. And the appearance of the public shop is very impressive and professional.
Thanks to my good friend Julie, a photographer on Etsy, who helped set up my banner and avatar, that was the only time I needed assistance.
I like that Etsy is so affordable. Unlike other sites, the cost of posting an item is so reasonable, it just promotes more and more creativity to keep it going. I like the support I received from other artists who encouraged me to join and although I don’t blog or get involved in day-to-day convos, I am a member of Teamejag. I like the spirit of community I feel with the other artists, where competition and elitist attitudes appear to be non-existent.
I recently received the best advice! One of Etsy’s tips of the day was how to get the most from your photos. Since I have struggled with poor quality, the “picnik” site was offered as a solution. What a lifesaver it has been – so fast and easy to use!
What inspires you the most in regards to your creations?
I think it’s possible to find inspiration everywhere. I originally found inspiration surrounded by Nature, but pick up a fashion magazine, watch a movie, TV, or see a person on the street, and I am immediately drawn to the jewelry being worn. Just being observant to your surroundings provides all the inspiration needed. I love seeing how a person puts all the pieces together when choosing jewelry – the clothing and jewelry choices are often what draws me to a new look and fashion trend. There is definitely something to be said about the creative process. If I am in a creative mood, which thankfully, is more often than not, the ideas just pour out of me – in my dreams and all day long. I usually sketch it so the thought isn’t lost, but there are certainly days when I am not inspired at all. I can sit staring at my huge stash of beads and trinkets and have a complete creative block.
What is your favorite piece you have created and why?
I think every piece I create is a personal favorite! All my pieces in PurpleSage333 are unique and one-of-a-kind, with many embodying my personal style. Working as a professional in corporate America for 25 years influenced me from the days of “dressing for success”. Now I am drawn to a more casual look but create jewelry that can be worn at work or at play. I always wear my own creations to get the most exposure and I’m never without a pair of my dangly earrings with whatever I’m wearing.
With the name, “The Stone Garden” and all featured items on PurpleSage333, I have been devoted and meticulous to the use of semi and precious gemstones in my work. Given that these precious materials are not a renewable resource, I am finding inspiration in the use of glass, Lucite, crystals and other manmade materials. Although I love gem’s quality and beauty, future jewelry design will feature a combination of natural and manmade materials.
Often my work has been from custom requests, with a favorite stone or piece provided by the buyer, or starting from scratch when a particular color is needed to match an outfit. It’s always like flying a bit blind but everyone is very pleased with the results. I am also busy with repair work which is often a simple jump ring fix or broken chain. It has been very rewarding to help friends and family save money and a trip to the jeweler for repair.
What do you want to accomplish with your online shop?
I would like to achieve some modicum of success and provide Etsy buyers with jewelry they would appreciate and enjoy wearing, or giving as a gift, and that I am proud to sell. It is very motivating to read buyers’ feedback and my hope is that my site’s exposure will increase enough for people to check it out and that they will be pleased by what they see. I am always satisfied and encouraged by the number of views and hearts on my shop PurpleSage333.
Do you have any new creations in the works? If so, what can shoppers expect to see from you soon?
I am in the process of teaching myself the art of intricate wirework. With the help of DVDs and instructional guides, I have a few pieces on PurpleSage333 now, but plan to have many more designs for the holiday season. I am also reviving my “lost art” of seed bead weaving. I love the look of this work, but being quite labor intensive, it is important to keep the creative energy flowing with my other work as well.
Watch for more items on sale at PurpleSage333 for the Holiday Season!
Where can readers find out about more information regarding your jewelry and other creations and possible special offers (including additional websites, blogs, facebook, etc)?
Please feel free to convo me at my shop PurpleSage333 and see what I have to offer in my shop. I love to hear from other Etsy artists and buyers and am happy to fulfill requests, custom or otherwise, quickly. All items are shipped either the same day or the next, and all my work is guaranteed.
I am on Facebook but do not promote my work there as yet.