Metalsmithing & Making Your Own Merch
Today we’re talking to traditional-turned-indie writer Christine Hart. She’s an author from the suburbs of Vancouver, BC who just made the jump to self-publishing after over half a dozen traditional titles. Christine worked on this book throughout 2020 while balancing kids and an Etsy shop. So, she’s got lots to say about all her various forms of making, in the context of being indie during a pandemic. Including making her own custom merch.
Christine, can you tell us a bit more about what motivated you to roll DIY pendants into your promo for this new release?
The former marketer in me thinks it makes sense to cross-promote between my various endeavors as much as possible. And the artist in me is just looking for another excuse to make something pretty. Since I started writing fiction in 2007 and making handmade jewelry in 2008, I’ve noticed that I tend to slip between a year of writing and a year of metalsmithing. I wanted to challenge myself to better balance both practices.
I think crafting a plot and designing a jewelry collection work similar muscles in my brain, so I find them equally rewarding. Likewise, restructuring a plot point that isn’t working or troubleshooting a step in the fabrication process can be truly satisfying when I finally solve the problem.
And the ways in which writing and metalsmithing are different complement each other nicely for me. If I need to stop staring at words and analysing language, metal and stones have the ability to transport me back into that state of wonder I’m always chasing.
Is there any symbolism in the design of these pieces?
In the case of these pendants, materials matter more than the design itself. Copper plays a prominent role in my trans-dimensional shape-shifter’s health and abilities. And mood stones were just a really fun way to keep us rooted in 1980s culture.
I used geometric shapes and chevron markings to try to achieve a look that’s both primal and still capable of evoking fractal imagery. They were made with mental energy by a being whose natural state is her astral form. They had to look weird no matter what.
We’re dying to know; which came first, writing or metalsmithing?
I am a writer by training and trade. I started out after university working as a communications specialist. So, when I freelanced, it was strictly as a non-fiction writer for youth magazines, usually related to whatever type of employer I had. I covered careers and education as well as travel, vacationing, and real estate.
But I really wanted to write fiction. I didn’t think it would go anywhere at the time because I didn’t think I had the right training. I thought fiction was too different than the article style I knew, but I did it anyway (because I’d gotten that advice from a successful author I trusted) and my debut, Watching July, came out of that process.
The path to making jewelry was quite different. I’ve always been ‘crafty’ although we didn’t really use that term when I was a teen. In high school I loved art class and took the sewing part of home economics, as well as a textiles, arts, and crafts class.
Another important variable here is that I’m very petite. I’m not ultra short (still 5’3” I think) but most mainstream pendants, rings, and bracelets are all way too big for me. I have tiny hands; my wedding band is 3 ¼, which if you know ring sizes, puts it into perspective. This doesn’t make me a better (or worse) metalsmith. But it is the reason I’ve always had to make my own bracelets, rings, and any pendant I want fitted like a choker. I started out just beading and my skills evolved. Eventually, I was making too much jewelry for my personal use and I had to either open an Etsy shop or stop making things all the time. And although I started out using cold connection techniques, I eventually gave in and learned to use a saw, torch, and metal plating equipment.