Name: Susan Seal ~ Bead Relish
Website Link: www.beadrelishonetsy.etsy.com
Where are you located? Anderson, Indiana
Tell us a bit about yourself: Years ago my mother told me that when I was a little girl I did not like having my hands dirty — I was always wanting her to wash them off. It’s interesting that today I love gardening and working in clay, two things I never thought I would enjoy. I am intrigued with nature and the natural elements of the earth — plants, animals, rocks and stones, metals and clay. I like the feel of the clay when I work with it and the result I get when I combine a clay pendant with stones, semiprecious stones, or metal adornments, and sometimes it’s fun to incorporate the image of an animal or plant on a piece too! Nature transformed into wearable art.
When did you begin designing jewelry/art? For most of my life pottery has always fascinated me, especially the work of Rookwood, Newcomb, and the Overbeck sisters. If it was unique, unusual or Art Deco in design, I was even more attracted to it. So several years ago I decided to take a few classes to see what I could do. I found slab work to be very enjoyable, but wheel work frustrated me. A good potter can make it look so easy, but I think I kept fighting the wheel and it was winning. When my daughters became involved in bead making and jewelry design, and came up with the name “Bead Relish” for a business that created bead embellished jewelry, textiles, home décor, etc., that started me in a new direction. I wanted to add my own individuality to the business and found that I could incorporate my love of working in clay with jewelry. It was smaller to work with, I enjoyed the challenge of seeing what I could create, and it definitely was easier to pack and travel with when we did an art fair or festival.
What do you make? At the present time I am creating one-of-a-kind necklaces, bracelets and earrings in several types of clay, embellished with sterling silver; bronze; copper; antique beads, buttons and buckles; pearls; gemstones; lampwork beads; and antique brass.
What materials and methods do you use? I use ceramic clay most of the time, but I like to embellish it with the wonderful metal clays that have been created, such as PMC silver clay, BRONZclay, and COPPRclay. Once fired those clays become pure metal…with PMC silver turning to 99.9% pure silver. I also enjoy weaving sterling silver wire for my necklaces and bracelets. When I work in silver I make most of my S-hooks for closures, charms or pendants from molds I have made from my antique button collection, and I have also experimented with silver wire fusion.
Where do your design inspirations come from? Every moment of the day our eyes rest on designs we sometimes never see because of our hurried lifestyle or because we take them for granted. I am learning to move slower, look longer, and really try to understand the simple and complex designs that are all around me. Since I love gardening, water elements, nature, and form, there is no end to finding inspiration for my work. Given my enjoyment in working with all types of clay, it’s a perfect fit.
What is your best working environment/where is your studio? I have a small studio in the lower level of our home, and it has separate areas where I can work depending on what I am doing at that time: ceramic clay, metal clay, jewelry making, sewing, and photographing my work. Most of these don’t require a lot of space. In a separate area is a large ceramic kiln that I use to fire earthenware clays.
Where can your products be seen? Right now my products can only be seen on our Etsy site or the occasional local art fair or festival. I am also involved in a new gallery in a neighboring town, and that has been exciting.
Are you a fan of any jewelry artisans? There are so many incredible artists it is hard to pick just one but I enjoy the work of bead artist Joan Miller, and the textile techniques in metal by Arline Fisch. Talk about statement pieces! Though not jewelry related, I also love the great potters of the past as I mentioned earlier and am fascinated by today’s miniature potters, Jane Graber and Andrea Fabrega. It is amazing to me how they throw on the wheel those tiny, tiny pieces that measure 1” to 2” in size!
Price range: $8 – $125
Tell us a little about one of your favorite creations: Right now my favorite creations are the Art Deco designs. I like the clean lines and geometric shapes that to me convey elegance and sophistication.
Anything else you wish to add? I appreciate your kind words regarding my work and thank you for giving me the opportunity to be featured on your website with the wonderful artists listed here. I am reminded of a quote I have always loved by Helen Keller, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart.”