Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Designer Interview: Fanciful Devices

When Fanciful Devices bought some beads from me, I was interested to see what sort of jewelry she designs so I clicked on over to her Etsy store to browse a bit.

I was fascinated with her jewelry. Many of the objects she uses are found objects from antiques, not average design elements. I was intrigued and asked her for an interview. I was happy when she agreed.

When did you first realize you were an artist?
Oh, no, that's an impossible question. I struggle with the word "artist" because it's been so tainted in my mind with... oh, I don't know, self-important people with manifestos and all that. But I've always seen the world aesthetically.

How did you become interested in making jewelry?
The blogging craft world was a huge inspiration. I like too many different kinds of media and styles when it comes to "real" on-the-wall art to be able to find my own voice or niche in that - painting, drawing, lots of collage, even lots of scrap booking. I couldn't quite find my thing.: Then, a bit over 2 years ago, I was going to visit my family in South America for the first time in over 10 years. It occurred to me to make jewelry for my 5 girl cousins and 2 boy cousin's girlfriends. I went a little crazy. I think in the end each cousin got 3 or 4 pieces. Since then I haven't stopped.

You seem to have a flair for the steam punk theme. What drew you to become interested in this genre?
Recently, my little sister visited. She saw a pile of my jewelry stuff and said, "You're really going with the 'old' thing, huh?" Cracked me up.

I don't know what it is, but, I love things that look old, and things that are made from elements that weren't intended for adornment. Maybe it makes a piece look mysterious, like it has an unknown function. In any case, if it's small enough and old, watch out cuz I'll connect it to a necklace somehow. Plus whenever I'm surprised and amazed by another jewelry maker's work, it's usually because it has an unexpected element that I hadn't before seen incorporated into jewelry. A huge part of my first year or so on Etsy involved me going- look at this necklace with reused pearls! Why didn't I think of pearls?! And stuff like that. Now I look at every piece of garbage on the ground for my next great break-through incorporation...

I noticed you have an unusual eyeball in this necklace ... where and how did you find such an interesting element?
Well, a few months ago, I returned to my country of origin, Uruguay, and just amassed as much stuff as I could. That actual eyeball was from a bead store I just stumbled upon. It was all Chinese imports. Everything in there was so cute! Now I wish I'd gotten much more. In any case, I'm always on the look out. My husband teases me because I'll pick up a piece of rusted trash on the street and apparently get this faraway look. He goes, "Uh-oh. She's thinking what she can make with it."

In several of your listings, you reference such interesting writers ... I loved the writing in this particular sold listing.  I did a search on "Russell Edson" and found a collection of his prose online. I especially liked this "Steam Monkey" and "The Fall". How did you run across him?

In college! A housemate once cracked open a book of his that she had and started reading out loud. I was hooked. The book was also full of his line drawings- I wish I remembered the title. In a poetry class I took later, we were all to introduce the class to a poet and I chose him. One student with this gravely voice read a poem out loud that had us all rolling on the ground. And it turned out my professor knew Edson personally. I'm so glad that caught your eye.

On your Blog, you've come out as being staunchly opposed to cutesy, do you see yourself eventually turning this direction?
Hm. Interesting question. I am a girl, after all, so I can't help but be attracted to ruffly, glittery things. It's funny, but I've had this discussion with other art/craft/bloggers. On one hand, 'pretty' is catchy and easy and since there's so much cutesy supplies out there, it's so tempting. On the other hand, we have a knee-jerk reaction against it as not being serious or deep somehow, or as simply being over-done. Sometimes, though, the knee-jerk reaction against something is just as bad. Pretty in itself isn't intrinsically wrong, and it is jewelry after all, it's not meant to be ugly. So I indulge myself in what I call my 'country' pieces. these are my necklaces made out of shabby little toys and miniatures. They haven't been big sellers for me, however. I can see why someone might be willing to pay $20 for a cheap cutesy piece made en masse, but not $40 for a ooak. I get that.

In this listing, you have some little known facts about insane asylums and where they originated. How do you find such interesting descriptions and are they the inspiration for your earrings or visa-versa? 

My 'descriptions' only develop when I've already finished the piece, taken and edited my photos, and am in the middle of posting, wondering what the heck interesting thing I can say. I'll let the piece take me on a stream of consciousness trip somewhere, then look up the whatever I land on... Once I just thought "early psychology!" and looked it up. the origins of things we take for granted are always so amazing and evocative to me. So many things originated in ancient Arabic culture-- science, math, medicine, universities, libraries, etc, etc. It's something totally undervalued or overlooked in our societies' world-view or our western awareness. Because it was all during the dark ages in Europe when these disciplines were flourishing in the middle east. It's fascinating. But, in any case, I think of something interesting, read about it online, edit it down to the most evocative tidbits, and there you are.  Unlike my jewelry making, though, I burn out and run out of inspiration sometimes and just don't know what to put. That's when I start quoting poetry.

What direction do you see yourself taking as a jewelry designer in the next few years?
I've never thought about it! Wow. I'm so wrapped up in the absolute ecstasy of making stuff, it never occurred to me to think of going in any direction.  I have very few expenses other than supplies. I don't spend money because I never go anywhere because I'd always rather be making. My husband is very patient.

It would be nice to get handy with the networking media and all. I never even had a blog before my wonderful friend and inspiration Sparrow Salvage encouraged me to. I wish someone would hold my hand through learning to twitter (I have a phone phobia), getting used to facebook, and even going out to the craft fairs. I tend to wanna just stay home making stuff.

You have such a fun store name. How did you come up with Fanciful Devices?
The name was one detail in my whole vision when I started the store.  I realized every part could be an opportunity for expression- the title, description. that's my shtick I guess, my marketing. Since all I have is the listing and not a cool-ambiance boutique to provide that part of the shopping experience.

 I realized that the shops that I was more intrigued by had a whole aura about them, an aura of artistry and evocativeness that was reflected wherever possible- in the photos, descriptions, shop announcement, avatar, and not just the items for sale. This was all part of the experience for the buyer. But besides this being good marketing, capturing the imagination of a shopper, it's also another avenue for expression. I can have as much fun making a interesting description as I can making earrings and such. Well, almost.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and browse Fanciful Devices' Etsy store .  Oh, check out her blog too.


  1. Wow, you sure made me sound like I knew what I was talking about! Thank you so much, it was an honor to be interviewed by you!

  2. It was a blast and thank you!

  3. Great interview! Love her designs, the eyeball cracks me up. And what her husband say's "the far away look" yes, I've heard that line many times myself. Isn't it great that ours hubby's support our obsessions? :)

  4. love this interview, i'd favorite'd an earring listing some time back..there's so much to look at in each design..