First off, tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Tessa Rickard-Carpenter. I use Tessa Rickard for my jewelry art work. I grew up on a farm in Southern Indiana. My mom is a retired school teacher and my dad is retired from the telephone company and he is still a grain farmer. I am a mother, wife, artist, teacher, and a vegetarian. I went to Ball State University for my BFA in Drawing and an MFA in Metalsmithing as well. I moved here to Michigan to attend Cranbrook Academy Of Art for my Masters in Metals. I have taught jewelry classes for 13 years at Oakland Community College. I am married and we have two young daughters. They are already artists and inspire me daily! My work has been published in 5 jewelry books by Lark; 5oo Earrings, 500 Wedding Rings, The Art of Jewelry: Wood, 500 Pendants & Lockets, and 500 Plastic Jewelry Designs. I have also been published in “Here And Now” about Michigan artists. I have been running my own shop, dolldisasterdesign.etsy.com, online since 2007.
How and when did you start making jewelry and your other items?
When I was little I drew all the time! Drawing will always be my first love! My sister and I would make everything together. We would sew, paint, make doll furniture, and clothes, just about anything. My parents are also big antique collectors. We were taken to just about every antique shop across the US! My love for broken dolls, antique jewelry, metal purses, and ceramic hands are my parents fault. Anything strange or creepy would draw my attention and that is what I would want to buy. I would also go metal detecting with my dad. I called it treasure hunting! I was amazed when we would dig up coins, and old jewelry! I thought it was wonderful how they lasted, buried in the earth for so long. He even put together a charm bracelet for me using one he found. I still have it.
I didn’t start making jewelry until I was in college. I was making doll part object image boxes and decided to take a jewelry class. I was very intrigued. I knew then that I wanted to make something that would last. I love the thought of hundreds of years in the future someone digging up one of my pieces and then wondering and dreaming about who made it or who wore it. That is how dolldisasterdesign.etsy.com got it’s name.
When and how did you originally find Etsy?
The day I found Etsy saved me! I was getting really dissapointed with the local art scene, lots of galleries had closed in the area. I still continued making things because it was a need I had to fill, but I had no way to share or sell them! My work is unique and not intended to be your everyday jewelry pieces. I knew there had to be someone out there who would appreciate it, but had no way to to be in contact with them. In the Cranbrook Art Museums’ gift shop I had only sold 3 pieces in 2 years. I was looking in the local paper, saw an ad for a Michigan Etsy Artists Fair, and have been hooked on Etsy ever since! I purchased a few things and went to the fair to meet the sellers there. I was so happy to find like-minded artists. I took all my work out of the gift shop and I set up my new Etsy shop. I sold everything I had in the gift shop in just one month! In 2007 dolldisasterdesign.etsy.com was born!
What is unique about Etsy and what about the website do you like the most in regards to your shop?
Etsy is unique because it lets you run and design your shop how you want it. I also like the fact that it reaches people all over the world. I have sold pieces everywhere! I love being able to run my shop from my home too. Etsy is also always evolving. They care about their artist community and are always improving the site based on their seller’s needs. I always support my fellow Etsy sellers by checking there first for supplies and gifts.
What inspires you the most in regards to your creations?
Lots of things inspire me and are reflected in my work. The objects I create are based on my studies in alchemy, mythology, symbolism, fantasy, curiosities, the grotesque, fetishism, and taxidermy. I want the wearer and viewer to question society’s norms of beauty and goodness. I also love found objects! Doll heads, broken doll parts, teeth, shells, bones, glass eyes, wood, bugs, anything from nature. The metal in combination with found objects make my shape-shifting, twisted little pieces stimulate the viewer’s imagination and thoughts. I used to get really attached to my pieces when they were done. Now I worry and wonder if they will go to a good home. I am also very influenced by my mother’s love of reading. She has always encouraged me to read. Books inspire my work too. Alice In Wonderland will always be one of my favorites.
What is your favorite piece you’ve created and why?
I have a lot of favorite pieces that I have created over the years. I only keep a select few these days. There is one right now that I am particularly fond of in my dolldisasterdesign.etsy.com shop, it is is called “Cracked Egg Dreamlets”. I enjoyed the casting process used to make the piece and the art nouveau feel it has, but in a modern, creepy way. I am very pleased with the series of glass eye stacking rings that I have made as well.
What do you want to accomplish with your online shop?
The big thing I would like to accomplish with dolldisasterdesign.etsy.com is to be able to support my family just by selling my work. For now I am content with the artistic freedom my shop allows me to have and in finding good homes with people who appreciate the pieces I make. When I can become self-sufficient I will be full-filled. I have always been true to myself and my art and have always made what I want.
Do you have any new creations in the works? If so, what can shoppers expect to see from you soon?
Right now I am working on my “Fantasy Diorama” series. I am casting little animals, hybrid animal/people, and baby dolls, then creating little scenes for them as wearable art. I am incorporating glass pieces too. Little handmade glass domes, doll house miniature glass ware, and glass eyes are being used in creating fantasy worlds. This is an on going series, so there will always be more in the works.
Where can readers find out about more information regarding your jewelry and other creations and possible special offers (including additional websites, blogs, facebook, etc)?
Currently I am busy being a mom, finding time to work in my studio, and teaching college courses, so I only use Etsy right now to promote my work. I do share new work on my facebook page now and then. I will be starting a e-mailing list soon to let customers know about sales, mark downed pieces, and new work. Starting a blog someday when I have a little more free time is also on my agenda. You can check out the work I’ve made in my shop, dolldisasterdesign.etsy.com, contact me by email at email@example.com, or on facebook.