Meet Sherri Haab
Monday, December 17, 2012
Jewellery maker and author Sherri Haab talks to Jen Burgess about her passion for metal clay and the reason she hopes to return to the UK very soon.
Jen Burgess: How did you get involved in jewellery making?
Sherri Haab: I have been
interested in jewellery making since childhood. My mother used to
dye uncooked macaroni with food colouring to make 'beads', which we
then used to string necklaces with; I was only five at the time.
The colourful dry pasta was as exciting as any gem or bead could
be! I continued to make jewellery with various craft materials
including clay in my teen and young adult years. After writing a
number of children's craft books, I became serious about jewellery
making with the publication of my first book for grown ups, The
of Metal Clay, published by Watson Guptill in 2003.
JB: Where in the US are you based? Do you work from home?
SH: I grew up in Seattle, Washington, a very 'artsy' place, which influenced my early work. I currently live in Springville, Utah where people are very industrious - the culture here has a long tradition of valuing DIY skills. I work from a home studio but I also have an offsite office and studio where we ship products and offer workshops.
JB: You are well known for your work with metal clay, what is it you love about the medium?
SH: I love to work small and with fine detail. Metal clay allows the freedom of creating almost any design. I also like that you can create something beautiful from start to finish in a very short span of time; you don't need a lot of expensive tools or space to work with metal clay and I think the end product is amazing. There are so many techniques to explore with metal clay, what's not to love?!
JB: Which other mediums do you most enjoy experimenting with? How would you describe your style?
SH: I use resin, paint, metal and fibre; it's hard to choose a favourite. For some reason I gravitate towards mediums that require repetition such as crochet, wire wrapping and surprisingly glass grinding. I think there is something calming about working with your hands for repetitive tasks. I work with so many mediums but ultimately clay is my favourite because I feel most comfortable when sculpting on a small scale.
JB: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
SH: My inspiration comes from things found in nature, vintage illustrations, fairy tales and antiquities found in museums. I also follow popular culture with a curiosity for current trends, from fashion to food.
JB: What is it you enjoy most about teaching? Will you be teaching any classes in the UK?
SH: I enjoy watching a student get excited about a new skill or talent they didn't know they had. If I can be instrumental in helping someone have the confidence or learn a new skill that they will enjoy, I am happy. I hope to teach in the UK again soon, I have been there twice and have taught for several studios. I made friends that I would love to see again, and I enjoyed the creative spirit found in the UK.
JB: You are the author of 27 books to date, is it difficult to keep coming up with new and exciting ideas?
SH: I always wonder if I will run out of ideas
or struggle to find things to write about but it hasn't happened
yet. I think it's because I am my own customer, I write about
things that I'm curious about but can't find information on. I
research topics I want to know more about and those ideas turn into
books - it's a great feeling to compile everything into
a text that is as comprehensive as I can make it.
JB: Tell us about your latest book, The Art of Resin Clay
SH: In the past resin clay has been used for many applications but not much for jewellery making. After discussing the idea with my daughters, we decided to see how well the medium would lend itself to jewellery design. We were surprised by how many techniques evolved as we experimented. After proposing the book, we collaborated on the projects to provide a range of techniques and finished pieces to push the medium in new directions. The book covers different brands of clay. The criteria for the subject matter, was that the clays had to have a resin quality and must cure without heat. The projects offer something for everyone and every style.
JB: What projects are you currently working on?
SH: We are in the process of re-designing of our entire website to offer more information for educating our customers. It's a huge task but in the end we hope to have a nice forum, more galleries and online content. I am still teaching and my staff is continuing to support our products in sales and education. Etching and electroforming kits are a large part of our business right now.
JB: You have already achieved so many things. What are you most proud of and what is next for you?
SH: I guess I am most proud of a comment I hear from a lot of people stating that my books are easy to follow. Many people express that my books are thorough and linear in explaining the subject matter. I am proud that the books are written and presented in such a way that teaches a skill through a written text. I didn't consciously think about this as I wrote, but I write assuming that the reader should be given as much information as possible with photo reference whenever needed. This skill was probably honed by writing craft books for children. What's next? I hope to continue working with metal clay as well as other mediums. I have the desire to create pieces that show more of my talent as an artist as well as a teacher. I need to make time to create a few pieces just for the fun of it, without worrying about how to explain how they were made. I also have a series of videos in the works, which will help bring the classroom to those who cannot attend live workshops.
The Art of Resin Clay by Sherri Haab, Rachel Haab, and Michelle
(£16.99, Potter Craft) can be purchased from www.thegmcgroup.com or by
calling 01273 488005