Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Featured Artist - Lori Citsay of Lori Citsay Jewelry

This week’s featured artist is EtsyNJ member Lori Citsay of Lori Citsay Jewelry, www.LoriCitsay.etsy.com. Lori is an accomplished jewelry maker and metal smith specializing in “handmade sterling silver jewelry that’s personal” (catch a glimpse here!). Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings abound in Lori’s shop, each one delightfully distinctive. So, if you’re in need of a gift for a jewelry lover or are in the market for something for yourself, then stop on by!

1. The Tote Trove (TTT): How did you become interested in making jewelry? Did you learn your craft from someone, or are you more self-taught?

Lori Citsay (LC): After I retired from 25 years of teaching elementary school, I dabbled in a few things to keep me busy --refinishing furniture a la ”shabby chic” and hand painting furniture a la “Mackenzie-Childs.” I even built some children’s table and chair sets that I then hand painted. I sold them in a co-op space, but it was frustrating to overhear potential customers say they really liked the pieces but had no room for them, or that the vibrant designs didn’t go with their decor. Then about four years ago, I started volunteering in a local art gallery, arranging the pieces in the gift shop. They had lots of beaded jewelry in their cases that I found quite beautiful. I thought, “How hard could it be?” So, my power tools and pile of lumber joined my sewing machine, knitting needles, and paints gathering dust in my basement. I began beading with a vengeance! It was a natural progression for me to move on to sawing, forging, and soldering -- I’m a “tool freak” at heart. That having been said, I’m mostly a self-taught jewelry artist. Like every other craft that I’ve been drawn to, I felt like, “I can do that.” Unfortunately, with every craft I’ve abandoned, it was obvious that I couldn’t really master it all on my own. So, a couple of summers ago I took a ten-week Metals 101 class at the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. Those ten classes were invaluable. I’d planned to take the next course, but when the economy took a dramatic downturn it was no longer in my budget. Since then I’ve gone back to what I always do -- search out information in books, magazines, and online. One great source for me has been a series of videos on You Tube by Argentinean metal smith Luis F. Moreno. None of the videos include speaking; all instructions are visual, which is universal. Although some of Moreno’s techniques are a bit unorthodox, I think they've taken my craft to the next level.

2. TTT: How did you decide to turn your passion for making jewelry into a business?

LC: There’s only so much jewelry I can make for myself or give away. The raw materials are expensive, so to continue doing this thing that I love, I had to find a way for it to at least pay for itself.

3. TTT: Your Etsy shop features lovely metal jewelry, including your Beach Beans collection. What aspect of metal work intrigues you? What was your inspiration for the Beach Beans collection?

LC: Right now I’m intrigued with stone setting. Whether it’s a gemstone or a beach stone, I love the contrast of metal with the color, texture, and shape of stones. I was inspired to begin my Beach Beans collection when my husband and I spent a couple of days in Cape May. We were walking on the beach, and a woman was collecting stones. She showed me which ones, when tumbled for a very long time, would become clear like the Cape May “diamonds.” Since I already had a tumbler at home, I thought I’d try tumbling the more colorful stones, which I preferred.

4. TTT: What is your favorite item in your shop?

LC: At the moment it’s the newer Beach Bean pieces that are highly oxidized and have semiprecious gemstones worked into the design. I looked at the Fall/Winter Fashion Color Forecast from Patone for the color combinations.

5. TTT: What items, if any, would you like to add to your shop?

LC: More earrings. I don’t know why I’ve ignored earrings for so long. I’m currently making little post styles that are hand stamped and compliment my “Initial Impressions” line.

6. TTT: Describe your creative process. Do you follow a routine, create when inspiration strikes, or a little bit of both?

LC: I wish I followed a routine! Unfortunately, I have ADD and do things as they hit me.

7. TTT: Who is most (emotionally) supportive of your business?

LC: My husband is my greatest champion. He has supported me 100% in everything I‘ve ever undertaken. There's a downside to that, though. He’s not at all objective; he thinks every piece I create is gorgeous! My two daughters, on the other hand, give me their honest opinions and are a source of valuable feedback. My older daughter is a graphic designer and has created my banner, avatar, business cards, etc. My younger daughter is a fashion marketing student at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. She hasn’t helped me with marketing yet, but she has a strong sense of style, and I trust her judgment in that area.

8. TTT: Are there any new artistic/creative skills you’d like to learn?

LC: I would love to take more jewelry courses to learn about gems and stone setting.

9. TTT: Tell us about life outside of Lori Citsay Jewelry. Do you have a job in addition to your business? Hobbies? Family? Pets?

LC: As I mentioned, I’m retired and no longer have a job outside of making my jewelry. My family is the center of everything for me. I love to spend time with them. There are so many things that interest me -- cooking, decorating, sewing, travel, politics, and all different areas of art. I wish I had the time to pursue each in depth.

10. TTT: What are your hopes for Lori Citsay Jewelry in the future?

LC: I donate a portion of all my sales to our local Catholic school for their tuition relief fund. I would love to sell enough jewelry for my donations to really make a positive impact there.

11. TTT: BONUS QUESTION. Just for fun, if you were stranded on a deserted island and had to eat the same thing every day, what would it be? You can pick a drink and a dessert, too. (I find that dreaming up a whole meal makes this game more entertaining!)

LC: An ice cream sundae (vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, coconut, whipped cream, and chocolate jimmies) with a vanilla milkshake on the side and some gelato for dessert. Ice cream is my favorite food group ;)

Thanks for visiting with us and learning about Lori and Lori Citsay Jewelry! For more Beach Beans and other precious metals, find Lori Citsay Jewelry on 1000 Markets and Twitter:

1000 Markets: www.LoriCitsayJewelry.1000markets.com

Twitter: Search for user LCJewel


wreathmiccreations said...

Nice interview, enjoyed reading!

Made by Melissa said...

I love Lori's work! Great feature!

Lori Citsay said...

Thanks for the feature, Tracy!

The Tote Trove said...

Thanks for reading!