Hello Bernadette and thanks for taking the time to participate in this week's Monday Maker's interview.
So first up, were you creative as a child?
Yes I was always interested in arts and crafts as a child, with my earliest two memories being making a timber rake with wood and nails at kindergarten and sitting with my grandmother while she attempted to teach me to knit.
And do you come from a creative family?
My mother has sewed all my life and is creative - she has her own vintage caravan full of interesting vintage wares.
My love of textiles and sewing is definitely from my mother, but I didn't take an active interest in sewing until I started work at 21 and needed some new clothes!
Jewellery making came much later in my early thirties, when I was subconsciously looking for an activity to do to manage the stress of my corporate day job. I loved that jewellery has no rules about how it is created.
I create unique 'one off' found object jewellery that uses a range of techniques, tools and mediums. Typically I incorporate vintage and modern items together, as it adds an interesting dimension to the piece.
I particularly like to juxtapose items, as they add an element of intrigue and innovation and result in pieces that attract attention.
You could say that my pieces are for those who like to be different and are not afraid to wear jewellery that becomes a talking piece with complete strangers!
Importantly I only create a jewellery piece once. That means the overall designs are unique and the components used are unique. For me, the constant changes in design are stimulating and keep my creativity. I can never imagine creating designs that are repeatedly 'punched out'. It's the story that I weave with the jewellery that is important to me and those who wear my creations.
How has your work evolved since you started?
My work was originally very simple and traditional, using beading techniques with new materials predominately.
I have evolved from this to more complex pieces using a great variety of found objects that are not usually seen in jewellery. You could say that I have become more fearless in creating, with a more diverse, edgy range of items in my collection.
How did you start selling online?
At first I created a website using Wordpress which I found quite frustrating! I then moved my website to wix services and have an online shop at www.tworoadsstudio.com, as well as a small collection on Etsy.
Who or what inspires you?
I love Pinterest and collecting ideas - mostly sources of inspiration I use when I am feeling blocked or looking to develop a new skill. If I am learning a new technique such as etching on metal, I research on the internet to learn the basic techniques and read all I can about how that technique is completed.
Thank goodness for YouTube!
As for artists, I love Nina Bagley, Stephanie Lee, Diana Frey and the French Circus. These artists inspire me with the detail, innovation and general love they put into each unique piece.
How do you reduce, reuse, recycle as part of your creative process?
Nearly all components of my jewelry are re-cycled or up-cycled. I have been collected (some would say hoarding!) a lot of materials particularly in the last five years. Many of my jewellery components have been in my collection for more than 20 years :)
I am fortunate enough to have a dedicated Studio space which is 6m x 5m. And I have managed to fill every wall space with large bookshelves (got to love IKEA!!), desks and re-cycled furniture from family members.
In the centre of the Studio is a large custom made cutting table on wheels, which is for pattern cutting/drafting. It has two sides which can be raised and lowered, based on the needs.
As I have high ceilings in the Studio, I have a large collection of retro hand stitched art works and paintings on the walls. Despite a vaguely aqua, pink and white theme, nothing in the Studio matches terribly well. It is reflection of the creative part of my world and essentially contains things I love.
It is filled with 'essentials' such as vintage Mason Jars, retro clocks, retro china collection, glass paper weights, tools, fabrics, jewellery supplies, imac and fairy lights.
I do admit to have a moderate obsession with fairy lights. These are all over my Studio, across the high ceiling and at every window. Somehow fairy lights make the space feel magical.....
My favourite thing to create is vintage jewelry assemblage. This is my favourite activity because of the interesting pieces that I find and put together. I marvel at their stories and think about the people who may have owned and worn the pieces previously. Some of the older found objects I have are sometimes damaged. This doesn't make me sad as I give them new life through a new piece that reflects my own story.
Two Roads Studio was named in honour of the American poet Robert Frost's most famous poem 'The Road Not Taken'. I have had a passion for Robert Frost's poetry since high school, so much so, I took a dedicated trip to travel around all Robert Frost's many farms in New Hampshire, USA in 2003. My website tells the story in more detail.....
Where do you see your creative journey taking you in the next 12 months?
Interesting question - I would like to get more into silversmithing, since I have taken some basic classes at the Brisbane Institute of Art and loved it! Just finding the time to dedicate to learning this interesting medium.
What’s your top tip to others wanting to break into the handmade/creative market?
Have confidence in yourself, get out at markets, network, talk to customers and of course in all things have fun!
Describe your typical creative day?
During the week I am a full time professional and part time mother, wife and student. I typically have to crunch my creative time in on the weekends and find myself working typically in the evening when all of household or family commitments are completed.
I usually have an idea in mind what I want to create when I go into the Studio. It may be a new design or a new medium or technique I want to explore. I tend to be quite implusive, so as a result I have explored many crafts and mediums over the years. However, when I don't have an idea, I might tidy up my messy Studio and find something interesting I had forgotten I had. This can result in a new interesting piece being born.
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." ( Robert Frost )
Do you prefer to listen to music while creating or watching a movie?
I generally listen to books on CD while I am creating so I can get two things done at once!
If I don't have a good mystery or historical Roman novel to listen to, I admit to listening to movies or TV series in my iPad, rather than watching them.
Do you have a favourite handmade item that you have bought?
I love all handmade and have a lot of interesting creations in my collection but my favourite recent purchase was a bag created by Wimcee that I re-made into a skirt. The fabrics were so pretty and crazy coloured I just had to wear it.
Where can we find you online?
Currently just through my own website at www.tworoadsstudio.com but I would really welcome some retail outlets in the future.
How long have you been a BrisStyle member and what made you become a member?
I joined BrisStyle this year after deciding to re-invigorate my handcraft work.
And I found out about brisstyle through Google while looking for great markets in Brisbane.
Then I joined so I could learn from others and to find like minded people, who just love to create.
It's so refreshing to spend time with people who are passionate about handmade and creativity.
Why do you craft Bernadette?
I originally crafted to keep balance in my life. Like so many others, I have a lot of different roles and responsibilities in my life.
Crafting was and still is my escape. My time to create things.
I love it when people buy and I can tell them the story of the piece.
They are often touched by the inspiration and take this with them into their lives.
It's really about sharing my passion with others and sharing some joy. We create unique pieces that carry their prior histories as found objects and are lovingly imbued with our stories during their creation.
We would like people who wear our pieces to create their own special stories, incorporating the love and joy we felt in the creation process into their lives.
Our dream is that wearers of Two Roads creations feel special, encouraging them to pursue their many roads in life with love, hope and courage.
Thanks so much Bernadette, it was a pleasure to chat with you
An amazing interview. A great insight into your creativity and passion for all things hand crafted. Your love of old, interesting and different items is evident. Clothing is no exception, you have created many unique pieces. We have gathered many components and sourced special fabrics from around the world. My suitcase is ready for the next foray into Sweden and Finland.( Who mentioned excess baggage costs?) Crafting and shopping for our various items has been a great joy for me.Thank you for sharing our special times together, I have loved every second of it. Wishing you much pleasure and happiness for future projects. Proud to be sharing this special event with you.
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