By N Valentine Studio
Featured artist - Nicole Hill, Europe
Nicole's pieces always seem to say "classical elegance" to me. Her chainmaille work is very unique and has such lovely finishing touches to it. I'm drawn to copper a lot and I really like the square wire in this piece.
How long have you been working in your medium?
I've been making chainmaille jewellery for just over 2 years now.
What drew you to this medium?
Initially, a fascination with medieval history, of all things. I like the idea of using a centuries-old technique designed for use in warfare, and subverting it to create decorative, feminine items of jewellery.
What is your favorite thing about your art?
The versatility - all the different metals you can use, the different effects of the different weaves, the sense of achievement you get from creating something beautiful with your own two hands.
What's your favorite piece?
I'd been wanting to make a dragonscale bracelet in square wire for a while, but wasn't sure of the ring sizes to use - square wire rings don't work in quite the same way as round wire. Then CandTDesigns (who I buy a lot of supplies from) released information on the best ring sizes to use and I gave it a shot. I loved the resulting piece so much that I've kept it - I offer it as a custom order now, but the original is all mine!
These earrings are also a favourite, made from a tutorial by the wonderfully talented Jewlie Beads - I wore them at my wedding and am planning to offer a range of similar earrings in sterling, copper and copper/sterling mixeds, with different stones, all sorts of variations. (If there's something specific you've got in mind, do get in touch to discuss custom orders!)
What's the hardest piece you've ever made?
This bracelet is in Viperscale, a complicated weave, and if you stop in the middle of making it, it can be hard to pick it back up again. I, sadly, have the attention span of a sick goldfish, so I had real trouble making this bracelet the first time - I can't count the number of times I had to unpick the weave and start over when it had gone wrong - deeply frustrating! I recently made another version as a custom order for a customer, and was surprised by how much easier it is when you do it all in one go!
What's the one favorite tool you cannot live without?
Pliers. One of pairs of pliers broke recently and I've been limping along without them. But good pliers are crucial for maille works, otherwise you'll knacker your wrists and hands.
What is your other craft?
I write, usually fairly badly. I'm in the middle of my third novel - one of which is completed, one of which is very definitely not, and I'm aiming to get this one mostly done by the end of November, as part of NaNowWriMo.
Who or what inspires you?
Pretty much everything - the pattern in leaves and flowers, the curves of wrought iron gates. Brickwork. I get a lot of ideas for jewellery when I'm out doing other things - my husband has more or less grown used to me pulling out a notebook in the middle of the street and scribbling furiously before the idea floats away!
What's your favorite inspirational saying?
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
The SATeam blog features artisan handmade creations by the etsy starving artists jewelry team. SATeam members create handcrafted jewelry and beads. More information about our team and its current etsy shop owner members can be found at SATEAM.etsy.com.