First off tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am originally from Chicago, Illinois and but I moved to NYC quite a few years ago to pursue a career in Art. I currently teach Art to elementary students in Brooklyn. I have been teaching art for many years and absolutely love it! Teaching Art has been truly a fulfilling experience and I plan to work with children as long as possible. I am a trained artist and I can paint, draw, and take photos as well. I thought I was going to become a graphic artist but I could not seem to break away from the fine art studios. I am a painter as well as a metal artist. I am the mother of two teenage daughters . I currently reside in Jersey City, NJ. I love this community, its full of artists! I am also the owner of Y.M. Blue Originals, a handcrafted jewelry boutique.
How and when did you start making jewelry and your other items?
I have been involved with art as long as I can remember. My mother was very talented, she loved drawing, and she loved taking photos. She was a gifted seamstress as well. Although she had no formal training, she was amazing. My grandmother used to make quilts by hand and her handiwork was in all of our households. So I never desired anything else to be or do, but art. I got started in jewelry because I used to love looking at costume jewelry. The more dramatic the piece the better. My mom used to indulge my infatuations by purchasing bracelets from a certain costume jewelry store at home in Chicago when I was still in elementary school. I was always wearing a “conversation piece” of some kind. When I moved to NY, I took a job at Saks Fifth Avenue. I thought I was going to be a sales clerk, but when they saw that I had a degree in Art, they decided to give me the job of “buyers clerical”, in of all places, the Fashion Jewelry buying office. Talk about Fate!
There I learned how the jewelry makes it up on the sales floor and in the catalogs. I would be the person who would schedule the jewelry designers to see the buyers. Here is where I got to see the creative side of jewelry. A lot of the designers were really talented and sometimes their work would not make the store. The buyers noticed that I seemed to have a style of my own and suggested that I give designing a try. But I did not take it seriously at that time. Later on I started making my own earrings using store bought beads. People started asking me to make items for them, in time , before I knew it, I was kind of in business. I decided to take it more seriously. I started taking classes on lampworking to make my own beads. I then decided to learn metalwork mainly because my ideas contained findings that I could not find in a store. So I decided I would learn to make my pieces myself. I took a year off from work to return to college and take metalsmithing. I have been making all my designs from start to finish ever since. I opened my Etsy shop, Norayolanda.etsy.com not long after. Its truly a compliment when people are really surprised that I make my jewelry from start to finish, it means my skills are getting even better.
When and how did you originally find Etsy?
I found out about Etsy when I was watching a t.v. show, I believe it was Martha Stewart, and the crafter for the day was talking about how she sold her wares on Etsy. I opened the site up and liked what I saw. I did my research and then in 2008, I opened the site, Norayolanda.etsy.com I really did not follow the suggestions that Etsy gave on how to make your shop work. So, at first, I did not do so well. I would let days lapse before I would open it up and I never updated my shop or my listings. Last summer 2009, I decided to try harder. I started asking other members questions and they gave me awesome advice. By the holidays, I was up and running the correct way.
What is unique about Etsy and what about the website do you like the most in regards to your shop?
I think Etsy is unique because the customer that shops this site is looking for something different and values the skills that the Etsy Artists have to offer. My customers have been very gracious and have kept in contact because they truly liked my product. I love that Etsy’s prices for maintaining the site are very affordable, other sites are very pricey or the traffic is not as heavy. Etsy has been a great place to set up shop.
What inspires you most in regards to your creations?
I love modern art and sculpture.My favorite museum is the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. I love the sculptures and I love the paintings. Jewelry artists Alexander Caldor and Art Smith are my favorites. Most of my designs are based on simple elements but with the use of hammer texture, patinas, and my special touches, I feel that I am able to express my true love of jewelry. My pieces are artsy but not overdone. The every day woman going to work can look amazing but not shocking. I am also inspired by nature which is why I love hammer textures so very much. The lines remind me of trees, waves in the water, rain drops, etc. I still take classes/workshops so that I can learn new techniques that will help me to translate my inspirations through jewelry.
What is your favorite piece that you have created and why?
My favorite piece is not for sale! Learning metal was intense for me. I loved it! But some skills take time to master. So I struggled with an idea that I had. When I finally made it work, I was exhilarated! I wanted to make an Art Piece. I made a bracelet that was comprised of oversized bezels that had historical photos of family members encased in resin within them. It was made out of brass that I antiqued on purpose. It was amazing. When I had to present to the class, I was all choked up holding back the tears, because I put everything I had into making into it. It also helped that my instructor praised me for taking on such an ambitious piece and bringing it into reality.
What do you want to accomplish with your online shop?
I would love to see my sales grow tremendously. I will be working really hard on perfecting my photos and by next year I would like to open a second shop. I would like to create a line of art jewelry. I have been considering blogging as well.
Do you have any new creations? If so, what can shoppers expect to see from you soon?
I am currently working on a new line , its “hush, hush” for now so that I can continue to refine it. But I think shoppers will see more metal mixed with beads. I will be adding more items like bracelets and necklaces. I recently learned how to make hollow beads from metal, so there will definitely be an inclusion of those types of beads to my future work.
Where can readers find out about more information regarding your jewelry and other creations and possible special offers?
At the present I am working primarily off of my Etsy page and I will be opening a Facebook Fan Page in the next few days.