Shannon Conrad, the metalsmith behind Ruby Girl, is a wonderful artist and metalsmith, and is always helpful in the Etsy Metal community. Her work incorporates stones and vintage finds with a variety of metals, as well as enameling, which results in a colorful array of objects. You can find more of her work in her Etsy Shop.
1. Where do you live, and where are you from?
I live in beautiful Portland, OR and can't imagine ever wanting to live anywhere else! I grew up in a tiny town on the Oregon coast and escaped to the "big city" as soon as I graduated from high school.
2. How did you get started working with metal?
I started working with metal just over 3 years ago out of sheer boredom. No, really! I was working full-time as the Acquisitions Manager for a library wholesaler (exciting!). When I was not working, I was home being a wife and a mother of two. I needed something that was all about me. I had done some beading, but was bored with it. I started hunting and found an adult education metalsmithing class through one of the local community colleges. I still remember how I felt when I picked up the torch for the first time. At 34 years old, I knew that I had finally found what I wanted to do with my life.
3. What are a few of your favorite pieces at the moment?
I love, love the enameled filigree I have been working on! I really enjoy reworking vintage componants and giving them new life. I love the idea of a vintage piece re-made into something super-modern. Like Victorian filigree enameled in lipstick red.
My absolute favorite piece at the moment is the ring I made for Etsy Metal's Secret Santa exchange. Taking that piece from a vague idea into reality was very inspiring for me. It has triggered a ton of ideas. You can expect to see more pieces with layers of sterling and enamel in my shop in the new year!
4. What inspires you (artists, objects, interests)?
I find most of my inspiration in my materials. When I am ready to start a new project and need ideas, I will often just sift through my collection of beads and cabochons and the ideas start to flow. I love all aspects of hand-fabricating a piece from sheet and wire - making something from nothing. Often my original idea will morph as I go along. A finished piece may not end up looking anything like I originally planned.
5. Do you have any other artistic interests?
Over the years, I have dabbled in many "crafty" hobbies. I crochet. I have made candles and soaps. Nothing has held my interest like metal has.