Describe your profession, with details on products, services, expertise and know how.
I create jewelry from polymer clay, natural leather and painted silk. I mostly focus on earrings as an accessory that is preferred by most ladies and that easily emphasizes the individuality of each of them in everyday life and on special occasions. Of course, I also make sets for more completeness. The item I rarely create are rings, which I will probably try to change.
What materials do you use? Where and how you purchase them?
The main material I use is polymer clay, which is the modern alternative to clay, which has been used to create ornaments and household items since the Neolithic. Nowadays, it is easily available to buy both in physical stores and online. It is a graceful and challenging material, resistant and long-lasting.
I also work with natural leather, which I buy from a special store, usually using waste from the shoe industry.
The natural silk with which I create some of my jewelry is bought from fabric stores.
I also use crystals, beads and natural stones, mother-of-pearl and pearls to finalize some of the author’s designs. I get them mostly online, the supply is really big.
At what age and under what circumstances did you start this job?
I became interested in and experimented with polymer clay at the age of 45. This happened in the period after a major operation which required a long period of treatment at home and which completely took me out of my comfort zone. I needed a hobby, urgently, and I started. I learned the most valuable things about clay from the Russian and Ukrainian schools through video lessons presented by leading masters in these countries, for example Lyudmila Bakulina. Subsequently, American authors also gave me a different view and inspiration. After a lot of trial and error, I was able to make myself custom jewelry for almost every outfit and occasion. I increasingly enjoyed the activity, not only as therapy, but also as a creative process. So the people in the circle around me saw what I was doing, liked it, and wanted it for themselves. About five years after the beginning, I was creating gifts for relatives and friends. At a later stage, I enrolled in Fusion Academy for a plastic arts course, where I learned a lot of new things. I participated in bazaars, took an exam to acquire a craftsman’s certificate in the Sofia Regional Chamber of Craftsmen, and for the last year jewelry making has been my main occupation.
Describe the techniques, the tools and the materials you use in your work.
I can describe the work process in one word: fun! First I create a mental project – shape, color, size, I even imagine what type of customer will enjoy this product. Then I choose the appropriate colors of clay and start mixing until I get the desired shade /I never work with pure factory colors/. I work with the clay with my hands, it likes warm hands and rooms, and with a pasta machine. Then I decide on the shape, I can make a three-dimensional figure, for which I only use my hands, or cut with a cutter, which helps me in the creation of any kind of texture – with lace or a with a fruit pit or some kind of template. I use a knife and rolling pin as basic tools, sometimes stencils, sometimes acrylic paints, low temperature enamels, powders, gilding and more. The next stage is baking, then comes sanding and smoothing, then jeweler’s resin for finishing, and finally assembling the finished piece.
As for the leather, the process is similar, for example I can imagine a red-haired lady with a wild updo who has paired a green sweater with a necklace and earrings made of white leather in the shape of a calla. I cut out the skin, tone it slightly, create the details out of clay and assemble.
Again for the silk, I outline the petals of a rose, color it according to the occasion for which the earrings I will be making, wash the silk, iron for durability, add crystals, stones and assemble.
What role do "talent" and "creativity" play in your profession?
As in any other profession, here it is important to have a combination of both. I am convinced that a creative approach can develop talent to unsuspected levels, as long as it is given enough space!
What is the best way to learn your profession?
I suppose that the most dense and sustainable knowledge can be acquired in a specialized secondary school and a subsequent internship with an eminent master and, in the end, a higher institute of arts. This is just a guess, not based on my personal experience. I believe that nowadays it is possible to improve yourself if you put your heart into your work and constantly look for new sources of information!
What is your message to younger generations who might choose your profession?
To work with excitement and pleasure!