Sharilyn Miller is an artist, instructor and author of 10 instructional books, including the best-selling Bead on a Wire, her newest book Wire Art Jewelry Workshop (Interweave, April 2011), and her latest ebook Arty Jewelry III. Sharilyn writes on her web site, “Prior to learning how to make wire jewelry in September 2001, I had explored many other mixed-media artforms, including collage, painting and other surface-design techniques on fabric, handmade books, fiber arts, and beading. But once I learned how to manipulate wire into fabulous jewelry pieces, I was transformed forever!” Sharilyn is the former editor of Somerset Studio, Belle Armoire, Belle Armoire Jewelry, and Art Doll Quarterly and was the creator and launch editor for the last three titles. In 2002, she began teaching art workshops part-time. In February 2006, Sharilyn left her magazine editing job, moved to a mountain home in Idyllwild, California, and began teaching and writing full-time. From her home she hosts Wild Wire Women retreats, and she teaches jewelry making workshops in Southern California, across the US, and all over the world.
Q: What kind of art are you known for?
A: Jewelry making with wire, metal and mixed media
Q: What are you working on right now?
A: A wire-woven doll necklace built on a small porcelain doll body, using wire, vintage rhinestone buttons, beads, and pearls.
Q: Why do you make art?
A: Because I really enjoy being creative. I find it incredibly fulfilling to work with my hands and create original works of art that I have never seen before.
Q: What’s your current favorite, can’t-live-without-it tool?
A: My most important tools are my Wubbers pliers and my Tronex wire cutters, but my favorite tools are my Fretz brand texturing hammers.
Q: What is your least favorite technique that you still use anyway?
A: Probably making wrapped eye-pin loops. I’ve made thousands, and I’m so over it, but it’s necessary when making most types of jewelry with wire, so I suppose I’ll be making thousands more in the future.
Q: What’s your favorite art material?
A: In a word, metal. I love working with round wire (copper, sterling silver and fine silver), and I really enjoy cutting out shapes from copper sheet metal and making gorgeous things out of them. If the price of silver ever goes down, I’ll purchase some silver sheet straightaway and begin working with it as well.
Q: What’s your one favorite material thing?
A: Besides wire and sheet metal, I truly love working with enamels. It’s the best (although not the only) way to add color to metal, and it’s easy to apply using a map-gas torch. Someday I would like to explore kiln-fired enamel as well. The creative possibilities are never-ending…
Q: What is on your workspace right now?
A: I have several projects going, so it’s very messy right now! I’ve been doing some torch-fire enameling, and wire weaving, and I’ve been making some heavy fold-formed copper bangles with sheet metal. I was etching a few days ago, but I have since cleaned up the mess!
Q: What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
A: I’m constantly reading, so it seems that my answer will change from week to week! For example, I just finished Suzanne Collins’ book The Hunger Games and enjoyed it immensely, but my favorite book of this summer was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Every day I read my Bible, and currently I’m in the book of Esther (a great story!).
Q: What’s the most inspiring trip you’ve ever taken or adventure you’ve ever had?
A: Without a doubt, every trip I’ve ever taken to Europe. Most recently I was in the south of France, where I taught for a group of ladies in Provence. I absolutely loved every minute of my experience there, and was profoundly inspired by the beauty, history and architecture of the area. I’m really looking forward to teaching a group of ladies in Cortona, Italy in August 2011. We’ll be shopping the flea markets, looking for little treasures to incorporate into our wire jewelry creations!
Q: What’s the last thing you cooked?
A: Funny question! I am no cook. The last thing I cooked (this morning) was hard-boiled eggs, which I’m using to make egg-salad sandwiches. Super easy, delicious, nutritious, and a great source of protein.
Q: If you could surround yourself with only one color, what would it be?
A: Impossible question! I have no one favorite color, but I do lean toward the warm hues over cool ones.
Q: What’s your favorite place in all the world?
A: Probably Italy, especially the northern area (Lake Como region), and Switzerland.
Q: What one thing do you want to do that you haven’t done yet?
A: I really want to explore more of Europe, especially Eastern Europe and the northern countries as well.
Q: What’s the best day you’ve ever had?
A: Probably the very best day was when I was working as a reporter for The Orange County Register, and I woke up at 4 am to hear the newspaper slapping on the driveway. I ran out to pick it up, opened it and found one of my stories inside with my byline. It was my first experience of being published with a byline, and the joy of that memory carried me through many years of writing and reporting for the paper, and later editing magazines for a craft publisher. Even seeing my very first book published in 1999 did not compare to the joy of seeing my name in the paper; but not because I felt that being published made me special. It was more like a confirmation, a voice inside my heart saying “this is what you are supposed to do with your life,” and I needed that at the time.
Q: What’s today’s Word to Live By?
A: “Let me experience Your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in You. Reveal to me the way I should go because I long for You.” ~ Psalm 143:8
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
A: Watching House Hunters International on HGTV. A real time-sucker, but I cannot resist!
Q: What do you listen to when you create?
A: Believe it or not, I listen to CNN. A lot!
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: The ability to go back in time. I would first go back to the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth, because I cannot imagine anything more wonderful than to meet him during his earthly ministry. I would also visit Florence during the Renaissance, because who wouldn’t want to witness that? And to meet the Italian artists of that time period… There are so many places and times that I would visit if I could!
Q: With whom would you love to spend one day making art?
A: Vincent Van Gogh, for a couple of reasons. First, because I’d love to spend time making art with him and talking with him about his process. Second, because I’d love to be able to encourage him and tell him how famous his art would be someday. He always believed in his art, but he was terribly depressed because he never knew any commercial success during his lifetime. How I would love to be able to tell him that he was right to believe in his talent!
Q: When is your favorite time of day?
A: Early morning, just before dawn.
Q: What is your earliest memory?
A: I have a very clear memory of looking out the bars of my crib when I was a baby, but I don’t know how old I was.
Q: What’s your best piece of advice for artists?
A: My advice is conflicting. On the one hand, I want to say, “take classes and workshops” with great art teachers—that is, people who are experienced at making art and are very focused on pursuing their own vision (no copycats! no amateurs!). Learn everything you can from them, and take classes in your chosen field of interest with as many different artists as you can. Here’s the conflict: I also want to say, “Stop taking so many workshops!” Spend time every day alone in your studio, avoiding the influence of other artists as much as possible, just noodling, daydreaming, sketching, and working on your own unique ideas. No copying what you see in magazines or on the Internet! You will be amazed at the creativity and originality that simply oozes out of you if you will please just STOP taking so many classes and workshops from other artists. How’s that for great advice?
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