Please, a warm welcome to my very first Featured Artist, Lori Paximadis of Alchemary. Lori primarily makes jewelry with mixed metals, beads and enamels, but has been expanding into other areas that she is not quite ready to release to the public yet.
Lori was so kind to be my guinea pig and give me my very first interview....EVER!
My full-time job is a book editor and I have done some writing as well. I am a co-author of a book that came out in 2009, "Cat Lover's Daily Companion: 365 Days of Insight and Guidance for Living a Joyful Life with Your Cat". Creative stuff is kind of on the side, I try to schedule an afternoon a week to work on stuff but I'm trying to increase that.
Who or What is your inspiration?
I am a nature girl, but don't confuse that for outdoorsy though. I love to garden and dig into the dirt. We have a couple acres here in Fairview Park and in the summer, I am usually outside every day. You can see the colors I use in my work, I lean towards the blues and greens.
What is your first memory of making jewelry or being creative?
One of my earliest memories of being an artist at heart is when I was 3, I remember crayons, markers and paper. I loved to draw at the kitchen table instead of eating my dinner; my mother actually encouraged it.
One of my first projects I remember was when I was in the second grade and it involved tearing up construction paper. I layered it and made a robin in a nest. My teacher entered it into a contest and I ended up winning 2nd place.
Please describe your style of work and how it is expressed in your work.
I love layering. Almost everything I do moves into that direction. For instance, my enamels are things on top of things on top of things. I love the layers, textures and movement.
Back in 1996 I moved to Hawaii. I lived close to a community center and they had a ceramics studio. I ended up going 2 nights a week and went nuts with it! We moved back to the Cleveland area in 2002. I looked for a setup like the one in Hawaii, but couldn't find a program that fit my wants. I happened into Bead Paradise (which we all love). I found out about a clay that had silver in it. At the time, they weren't offering that class, but they were offering a metals class. It ended up being a cold connection class with Susan Lenart Kazmer. Talk about a first jewelry class! I found my niche and went crazy with it. I took a couple more classes with Susan as well as a couple different classes here and there. It really opened my eyes to every day objects and how you can transform them. I started looking at things in new ways.
Do you have an all time favorite creation?
Good question. I have a couple favorites. From my ceramic days, I have a favorite bowl that I made that I use almost every day. It has 3 chips in it but I still use it. As for jewelry, I have a layered necklace that I made about 5 years ago. It started as a mistake from doing a custom metal steamed order. I screwed it up and ended up taking my shears to it and I cut out the word. I put in on my trivet and ended up over firing it, it got all ripply and folded over on itself. I layered it up with an old coin with a nice green patina and a piece of mother of pearl. It's held together with a wire and I wear it all the time. I like the layers, the aging and it just feels right; it's smooth, it's heavy and has presence to it. It's one of the first layered pendants I made, there's something about it that works really well for me.
In 2003, I took my first class. My mom works in a salon and would ask for my jewelry. She would wear it to work and her clients would ask about it. I started making pieces for her clients. I did my first show that fall of 2003 and did really well. I sold a ton of earrings, they are my most popular item, people loved them. They are still my best sellers, plus they're fun to make!
Describe your workspace.
My studio is in my home on the second floor, we call that room a bonus room. It's a weird house with a funky layout. It has a high ceiling and a walk out deck. It's always a horrible mess! I have a hand-me-down pressboard desk and a wobbly chair. My great love is my favorite piece of furniture, it's a 50 drawer wood card catalog that I got at a ridiculously low price. I keep going on ebay looking at old printer cabinets. I dream to get one someday. My goal is to make the space more efficient.
What is your favorite tool and why?
My favorite tools are my Lindstrom pliers and cutters, they are the best things I own. I have a lot of tools, but these are my workhorse. It was worth investing money in super awesome tools.
Do you have other artistic talents?
Jewelry is super competitive. I have done really well with my custom stamped jewelry, but I tend to get a little bored with it. I started working with enamels about 3-4 years ago. I have been selling this work steadily, but I feel this is a little trendy, there's a lot more enamel out there than there used to be. I keep it different though by layering it. I have been thinking about how I can use techniques that I have learned about jewelry making and apply them to other things. I took an awesome class last summer with Tracy Moore, who is very well known for his photography and hand bound books. The books have metal covers with leather binding which are stunningly beautiful! He uses a lot of found objects, but I'm not intuitive with found objects. I feel it is artificial when I attempt to do it, it's not organic. I have been experimenting with those techniques but less focused on found objects. I am doing some etching, creating windows, tool work, doing some rivets and putting a twist on what I learned in the class. I'm having a lot of fun with it, but the down side is I don't think most people will want to pay what it's worth, bit I'm exploring it for my own enjoyment. I am also playing with some things for the home, little knick-knacky baskets and boxes, kind of interesting stuff. Nothing is really ready yet though.
Tell us something about you that we might be surprised to learn.
I admit that I'm kind of shy. I'm petrified of talking to people I do not know. When I go into a room full of people, like at a party and I don't know many people I get really jittery. I don't have a hard time doing shows at all, but I feel that it has to do with the table separating them, I have my own space. I am also ok with what people feel about my work, my feelings don't get hurt if they don't like my stuff. I do love people though and love to hear their stories.
Please tell me how you are involved in Cleveland Handmade Group.
Etsy started in 2004/2005. I signed up in 2006. I didn't do much at first, but that fall I started poking around in the Etsy forums. I located a thread that someone had posted "Hey, I'm in the Cleveland area, who else out there is from the Cleveland area?". There were about a dozen of us or so that started on the thread and started talking back and forth.
There was a Crocker Park Farmer's market. At that time I lived right down the street from there. A couple people mentioned they were going to be selling their work there. I decided I was going to go down and introduce myself and that's how I met Ramona and Kathy that day. The following year we did a get together and soon thereafter Etsy come out with the team concept. In short, Kathy and Lori, the co-founders, started the Cleveland Handmade Team on Etsy. To date, there are 600 people who are part of Etsy in the group with more requests coming through on a daily basis. Cleveland Handmade is in the process of becoming an official legal business and is in the middle of a big transition. We are working on others being able to join the group even if they don't sell on Etsy. There is Cleveland Handmade Markets which is an LLC that does the shows for the Cleveland Handmade members.
Lori, where can we find your work?
I sell my work as Alchemary on Etsy. I also sell my work at various shops and galleries which are posted on my blog VirtualLori.com