Friday, December 3, 2010

Turning Nature Into a Lifetime Treasure

Lisa of Willowandme - December Featured Artist and Blog Giveaway

Paralegal and jewelry artist could be two extremely different professions. One requires endless research and patience on the legal matters. The other demands infinite imagination. Both call for dedication and passion. How did Lisa transit from one to the other?

Why did you pick the name Willowandme?
When I first started making jewelry, it was beaded jewelry and only as a hobby. I had recently gotten a new kitten, Willow, and she spent all her time with me, no matter what I was doing, including when I was beading. So when I gave jewelry as gifts I would sign the card “from Willow and Lisa”. When I made the decision to begin selling my jewelry, the choice for a name seemed natural.

When did you first become interested in Metal Clay? How long have you been designing jewelry using Metal Clay?
I first heard of metal clay when I was beading and vociferously reading all kinds of magazines and books to learn new techniques. In 2006 I went to the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and took a beginner’s PMC class, among other classes, and I was hooked. Unfortunately, I must have missed the part about firing the clay without a kiln and went home a bit depressed because I couldn’t afford a kiln. I continued to read about it, however, and at some point I stumbled on an article about alternative firing techniques.

I asked for (and received) a Hot Pot for Christmas that year and quickly progressed to a Speedfire Cone and began making simple PMC pieces. As is usual with me, I purchased books and read online tutorials to learn techniques and began experimenting with things like resin and dimensional shapes. In 2009 I received my Rio Certification after taking a certification class with Tim McCreight.

What was your first piece of Metal Clay jewelry?
When I asked for the Hot Pot for Christmas, I also ordered a rubber stamp with my logo, a Siamese cat wearing a necklace. My first piece, other than those I made in my first class, was the first Willow necklace, which has proved to be a popular item. I now sell the pendants, giving a portion of the proceeds to the animal related charity of the buyer’s choice.

Would you tell us your creative process?
Much of my creative process begins in my head. I will get an idea for a piece or want to try a new technique and I will work it out a bit in my head for a while before trying it. Many times I am not sure what I will make until I start looking through my tools and textures. Other times the piece sort of “makes itself” as I am working with the clay and doesn’t come out at all as I originally envisioned.

I have only recently begun sketching my pieces out a bit as I begin making more complicated pieces, but I don’t always do this. I also try to record my ideas now because I have so many running around in my head, I sometimes forget them if I don’t sketch them out or make some notes.

What inspires you?
The easy answer is nature and natural things, but the truth is I get inspiration from many places. Lately, I am very interested in vessels, hidden objects and pieces with moving parts, so often when I see something mechanical, even totally unrelated to jewelry, I will examine it to see how I could translate that into a silver piece.

What are the major challenges when creating metal clay jewelry?
I believe my biggest challenge is the fact that I’m not a trained jeweler or metalsmith, nor have I had any artistic or design education. I came to jewelry making from a totally different background (I was a paralegal for many years). I think that may hold me back in a self-confidence way. In addition, it often means lots of research before starting a new technique. Even some very simple techniques like cutting metal or fabrication are (or were) foreign to me. I am an obsessive researcher, sometimes overly so, and tend to bombard myself with articles and books on techniques before trying something.

What do you enjoy most about working in Metal Clay?
Being able to transfer something impermanent like a flower or leaf into a piece of silver that will last many lifetimes. As far as the process itself, it still captivates and excites me, especially the moment when I take my pieces out of the kiln and what was originally a lump of grayish clay has magically become silver.

What is your greatest ambition as a Metal Clay artist?
I would like my business to be able to be financially independent. In addition, I would like to further my creativity process. Achievement of professional credentials has always been important to me and I have recently begun the journey through the Metal Clay Registry program. The process is daunting, especially considering those who have already attained levels in the program, but it is my hope to someday be able to say I have reached that goal.

As far as bragging goes, I think my favorite pieces have been my most challenging:

My pussywillow pieces. These pieces were the first time I really stepped outside the box to try something a bit different. Most pussywillow jewelry I saw used pearls, but I wanted the look to be more natural and soft and decided to have a friend make me some needle felted wool bits for the pussywillows.

My photo album pendant. There are a lot of firsts in this piece. It was my first hinge and the first post-firing stone I set (it was originally a different stone, but I later changed it to the cz because I didn’t like the original one). It was the first piece that required several steps firing then constructing fired pieces together. I like instant gratification with pieces so this took a lot of patience to finish. Many months went into the planning of this piece as I had wanted to tackle a hinge for a while.

Why did you design the giveaway piece? What is special about your giveaway piece?
My giveaway piece is entitled the “Peggy Necklace” and is named for a good friend of mine who is on the Etsy Maine Team with me. She and many others on the Maine Team were very supportive of my wanting to teach and there were several Maine Teamers in my first class. The pendant was made using a rubber stamp I carved for the first PMC class I taught. I think it’s important to teach students how to make their own textures. It makes the piece even more special when you make everything, including the texture.

In order to win Lisa's beautiful pendant, here are the rules:

Every person is eligible to enter the blog giveaway with up to FOUR (4) entries. How can you get an entry? You can do any of the following and then let us know that by leaving a comment under this feature so we can keep track.

1. Follow our blog = 1 entry
2. Check out featured artist and post favorite piece on the blog = 1 entry
3. Heart featured artist’s shop = 1 entry
4. Follow featured artist on Facebook = 1 entry
5. Make a purchase = 2 entries
6. Refer a friend = 1 entry
7. Tweet about the giveaway using key word metalclayheads = 1 entry
8. Share the Metal Clay Heads blog giveaway link on FB (Go to and click Share) = 1 entry
9. If you voted and commented on our last challenge = 1 entry

The giveaway will run for two weeks. We will announce the winner on December 17th. Good luck!


  1. Wow! I am Very impressed with your work
    and labor intensive aspect of it..
    including the research.
    I love my "Willow" pendant (I have put it on a black pearl necklace I made)..
    and wear it with pride!
    Artfull minds at work.
    Keep on keepin on Lisa!

  2. I enjoyed reading this! I have to say the photo album is my favorite! Your work is beautiful Lisa!

  3. Lisa, I absolutely am a fan! I love your work and if I were closer I would absolutely take classes from you! Youre an inspiration, it is so much fun being on the same team as you :)

  4. Love your designs, Lisa. They are so organic. I really like the holiday designs!

  5. love this necklace

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  6. hearted her shop
    Heidijaneblankets at comcast dot net

  7. That photo album is SO Cool!! I reposted to facebook. I already follow, and have had WillowandMe a favorite for a while!
    This is Jen from Envy, BTW!

  8. I follow the blog, Metal Clay Heads

  9. I love your four seasons piece, Lisa.

  10. I am following your blog!

  11. Hearted Willowandme on Etsy! (TheArtMart)

  12. Tweeted the giveaway!

  13. I liked on Facebook the Metal Clay Heads page, and Shared the post on my page!(Elizabeth Simi W)

  14. Shared on twitter @kitandcaboodle