Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Interview with Dana James of Dana's Jewlery Design

I would like to introduce you to Dana James of Dana's Jewelry Design. She is a member of the Pacific Northwest Artfire Guild. The guild is showcasing  it's members, which is a great way to introduce ourselves.

Dana creates fabulous jewelry using real gemstones. One of her specialties is the making of Gem Trees.

Color Lapis

Dana also paints lovely watercolors such as this beautiful Sunflower:

Sunflower watercolor

You can purchase her work here at her ArtFire shop. I asked Dana questions about herself and her craft and here's what I learned:

What inspired you to become an artist?
It’s not so much as what but who inspired me. I’ve always been the crafty sort and my grandmother taught me to appreciate all kinds of crafts including crochet, beading, collage and painting. She was also a wonderful china painter and unfortunately I never got to spend any time with her to learn that art form, but I always wanted to paint. My true design talent of creating jewelry didn’t emerge until I was in my 20’s and has been evolving and growing ever sense.

Who in the current day art scene inspires you the most?
There are so many but currently I just love the art of Alisa Burke and Flora Bowley. Their sense of color and ease of design inspires me to create more and be freer with my designs. I also love the jewelry artistry of Deryn Mentock and Susan Lenart Kazmer who I feel have a firm understanding and application of basic craftsmanship and a touch of whimsy.

Do any famous artists inspire you?
All artists inspire me famous or not just as nature inspires me. I believe that art can be found in our everyday lives and we just have to know where to look for it.

I've heard it said that where one grew up as a child, has a lasting impression on the type of art one prefers to create. Would you say this applies to you?
I believe our roots do have an impression on our art. I grew up in Oklahoma in a very small town in the 60’s and 70’s. It was very middle class and probably the fanciest places we went were to church on Sunday or weddings. My designs tend to be fairly simple, classic and very wearable. They are not items you would purchase and save for a fancy dinner or event. I would like to think that where and how I grew up had a lasting impression on my designs.

How did you learn your craft (i.e. did you go to school, learn from someone else or are you self taught)?
I’m mostly self taught but I have taken various classes in drawing and watercolor painting, metalsmithing, lamp work and glass fusing, of which all I still find challenging. I learned gem tree design from a friend who was the first “Master” gem tree designer in the country.

Color Pine Tree

What are your favorite genres in art?
Watercolor has always been my favorite, but the past few years I’ve gravitated more to photography and mixed media.

Lilacs watercolor

Why have you chosen your medium or craft?
Working with beads and wire is an easy art to initially get into with little outlay of money, which is how I started but as the years have progressed, so does our stash of supplies and the investment into art. In designing gem tree sculptures, it found me. It is the one thing I can do and not think too much about what the final outcome will be. As soon as I started making trees it felt right and it is so different than jewelry or painting. While I was competing for my “Masters” certification in gem tree design with the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, my designs had to be structured and completed in a specific manner that would be accepted for competition. Now that my competing days are behind me, I am free to be as whimsical and fun with my tree designs as I choose. I’ve been trying to get that freedom in my painting and jewelry design as well.

Where do your inspirations come from?
Most of my inspiration comes from nature. Obviously, for gem trees, their whole design involves replicating nature as closely as possible. With jewelry I’m trying to be more design conscious by sketching first and then making but I still love to play in my bead stash and gain inspiration from what they want to be.

How can a client get in touch with you to purchase one of your pieces?
My web site has a gallery of photos along with links to my blog and my ArtFire Studio.

Thank you Dana, for sharing a bit of yourself with us. Your jewelry and paintings are lovely! You can meet more of the guild members and see collections on the Pacific Northwest ArtFire Guild blog, here.

Posted for the Pacific Northwest ArtFire Guild by: Rhonda of Roban Studio


Janet Bocciardi said...

Wow -those gemstone trees are beautiful. They remind me of ones that came out of Japan years ago. Your paintings are wonderful, too. So interesting to read where someone is "coming from" in their art. Thanks!

Michelle said...

I love the Gemstone trees.. and the sunflower is just beautiful! I enjoyed getting to know a little bit about you and your art and how it all comes to be. Thank you for sharing!

Dana said...

Thanks to Rhonda for the great questions.

Kristi Bowman said...

Beautiful artwork!!

Christine Hansen said...

Great interview!

Dana also wrote a wonderful how-to book on making Gem Trees - "Gem Tree Sculptures" - and it is a prized member of my art book collection.

Dana - I am loving your paintings - the sunflower and lilacs are my favorites!

Katie said...

I have a soft spot in my heart for gem trees, as there have been a few in my parents' and grandparents' homes. The painting of the lilacs is also quite lovely!