Tuesday, August 24, 2010

RAD Press- Handmade in Portland features Shannon Conrad of Rubygirl

Congratulations to persistant Ring-A-Day-er and RAD Shannon Conrad for the fabulous interview "HiP Creative Spotlight: Shannon Conrad of rubygirl" on Handmade in Portland!

As well as talking about building a handmade business, her family, and the satisfaction of meeting strangers wearing her jewelry there is a lovely feature on the Ring a Day project. Yay! Shannon talks about how the project began, her favourite ring (usually yesturday's) and the wonderful Ring a Day community.

Read an exerp of the RAD press below:

Let’s talk about a Ring a Day. What was the concept behind that? And how is it going?

I’m part of a team on Etsy, called Etsy Metal, it’s the metalsmiths team. And one of the members had this idea. She had taken a class and the instructor had said that she had done this as a creative process, and it stuck in her mind. She presented it to the team and so I decided to try.

Setting out, a lot of people agreed to do it at least for January. But there were those of us that said, if I’m going to do it, I want to push past that. The nice thing about how we set up Ring a Day is that there are no rules. It is up to you. It’s a personal challenge. I could tie a string around my finger and that’s today’s ring. Personally, I try to fabricate as much as possible, because my goal with Ring a Day is to…well, you do things over and over, I see it in production work, I am faster and better at certain things because I’ve done it a hundred times. So I try to fabricate more often and do less conceptual stuff. It’s given me a chance to try things that have been in my head. And some of the things that have come out, I want to do whole lines of.

The whole process is frustrating and exciting and it makes me anxious and there are all of these emotions that go into it. But it has been really good. It has pushed me creatively. It has pushed me to be in the studio every day. There are times when I don’t have orders pending or anything when it would be really easy to flake off a day, and this doesn’t allow that. It makes me think creatively every day.

I think what is really great about Ring a Day is the community it has built. Anybody can do it. You don’t have to be a metalsmith or be part of the Etsy Metal team. We opened it up to anybody. One of the girls posted statistics on her blog. I want to say that 118 people have made rings at some point. It’s down to four of us who are completely on target. Mostly it’s sheer stubbornness on my part.

Do you have a favorite ring?

Probably what I did last night. And if you asked me yesterday, I would have said the same thing. At 200 and some odd rings, I don’t think I do have a favorite.

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ring a Day Artist Interview: Evelyn Markasky

The Ring a Day Project has been a long journey for most of the artists involved. It is emotional, exhausting, compelling, invigorating, and just plain hard. There are about 20 metalsmiths who are still making their ring daily. Evelyn Markasky was kind enough to give us an interview.

Evelyn Markasky, Ring #182 & #183

SW: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background in metalsmithing.
EM: I graduated from college with a BFA in Sculpture from a small college in Ohio. I took my first jewelry-making classes there and also a metal sculpture class where I learned welding. There was only me and one other woman in the class. We eventually became very good friends, but during that quarter, because of all the safety headgear and clothing we had to wear, our conversation was mostly “Would you pass the
striker please?” This was during the 70’s, and we eventually moved on to more bizarre and conceptual types of art. Then I had 3 children and my art took a different turn in the form of a family. After the last one became a teenager I started getting back into metal work and enameling, taking some workshops in the area. I teach a little and sell a little and then I became obsessed with the Ring a Day!

SW: How did you hear about the EtsyMetal’s Ring a Day project initiated by Nina Dinoff?
EM: I had been a Flickr member for a while and already a contact with a few Ring a Day people, like Maria. I began to notice this funny code-like number and letters coming up with Maria’s photos. So I asked her about it and she explained about the project and invited me to join.
Evelyn Markaksy, Ring #198

SW: What compelled you to participate and persist in this endeavor?
EM: Well, I had been watching Maria’s rings and photos evolving in just a month’s time. I know that if you do something everyday, almost anything, that you will eventually get better at it and I really wanted to be a part of that process. Also, I have always had a hard time staying committed to any one thing. My mother’s voice in the back of my head from when I was a little girl saying ‘you never finish anything.’ I wanted to do something like this and follow it through to the end, to prove to myself that I could commit!! Ring a Day also makes you accountable. There are people that will see your ring – every day. It motivates me more when I know there are people out there that will know if I did it or not, more so than me trying to think up a project of this length and trying to do it all by myself.

SW: When did you start this project?
EM: I joined the group on February 6, 2010.

SW: How many rings have you made to date?

EM: The more I participated the more I wanted to be able to finish with 365 rings with everyone else, so I became obsessed until I caught up. So as of today, 8/17/10 I have made 229 rings!

SW: What is your favorite ring that you made and why?

EM: Eeee! That’s like trying to pick your favorite child!! RAD gives you that latitude to be able to try and work out many different techniques, so some I like because of the process, some because of the way they look, and some because of the meaning or symbology. But I guess if I had to pick one… I would pick #183, my sick ring! I had had this horrible cold – sore throat and cough – for about 3 weeks and I had to make a functional ring for a RAD spin-off group. So I made a cough syrup cup ring, with words describing the crap they put in medications. It was the first ring in a while that I actually took time to fabricate and think about and it marked a turning point in starting to feel better. I guess I just liked the way it looked and was put together. I know you didn’t ask… but 2nd favorite would be the anticlastic rings with enamel like #198. I am addicted to hammering the form and am enjoying finding new ways to work with it.
Evelyn Markasky, Ring # 37

SW: What was your least favorite ring that you made and why?
EM: That’s hard to say too, because even when a ring didn’t come out like I may have intended, or fell apart, or just looked weird, I still learned something from making it. But if I have to choose, I’d pick #37 (and hope that #37 doesn’t feel insulted!) I like it least because of the craftsmanship. It was lumpy and not filed and sanded very well. However, it was also a turning point, because I started to realize that even if I’m making a quick ring or a simple ring, it should be done well. That’s when I started looking more closely at what I was doing and trying to work harder on the technical aspects. Not that everything I do comes out perfectly, but that I have that more as a goal now. Thank you #37.

SW: How have you changed as an artist since you began this project?

EM: My mind and thinking has been stretched to dimensions I never thought existed! I’ve gotten better technically and have tried things I wouldn’t have tried before. It keeps me fresh, which is sometimes difficult to do when you are isolated working alone in your studio.

SW: Has your involvement in RAD affected your business?

EM: One way it has affected my business is that I’m so obsessed with doing a ring a day, that I have let a lot of my online posting slide! But because of the creativity and new work that has evolved from Ring a Day, I have been accepted into shows and sold more work locally.

SW: What advice would you give to anyone who wanted to participate?

EM: Do it, whether you commit to a ring every day or not. The commitment is personal, no one in the group minds if you post every day or every month or even just once or twice.
It’s like taking an intensive college course online. Its not necessarily always fun. Sometimes it hurts to think. And sometimes the frustration of having to make a ring every day when maybe you just don’t want to, is necessary to move to a new level. And the support you get from the other members is phenomenal.
Evelyn Markasky Ring #164

SW: Where can people buy your jewelry online?
EM: I have a website,
www.evelynmarkasky.com and an Etsy shop www.etsy.com/shop/markasky

SW: What one idea or thing inspires you most in your work?

EM: Organic shapes/designs. I love taking a piece of cold, hard metal and turning it into something soft and organic by hammering, folding, forming, and coloring.

SW: Would you like to tell us anything else?
EM: I started doing Ring a Day with the idea that I would get better at metalwork and better at taking photos. Both of those things have happened. What I didn’t realize would happen is the camaraderie, friendships, and support through this group. It seems like at some point someone will post that they are uninspired, tired of making rings, wanting to quit, etc. (I know I was one of those people) and then you get these great supportive comments from people loving your work and encouraging you to keep going (whether its ring a day or not). No judgment or negative criticism, just supportive comments from people going through a similar experience, but maybe on a different place in the road. Sometimes it feels like a group of artists gathering and discussing ideas and art and families and health, only instead of sitting in some little cafĂ© we are on the internet and we live all over the world. I have made friends and connections with people that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t joined Ring a Day. I knew some of these people as contacts on Flickr, but Ring a Day did something that brought people together in a different way and connected them. Thank you Nina Dinoff!!

Evelyn Markasky Ring #222

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Win a "500 Wedding Rings" Book by Lark

Rings, rings, rings have been on my mind for 228 days now. I think in rings, I dream in rings. I still love rings--I always have. So if you love rings as much as we do....we have a little something for you! We are excited to announce a drawing for Lark's "500 Wedding Ring" book. All you have to do is subscribe to this blog and we will have a drawing October 15. The winner will be notified via email. Good luck!