Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Meet Featured Artist Diane Simon of Lowcountry Elements!

What is your business’ name? Lowcountry Elements and I’m Diane Simon!

What sort of items do you make?  Copper wire jewelry primarily, but I also use silver filled and silver plated wire.  I also make some jewelry from copper sheet, like cuffs, earrings and pendants, usually with etched designs.  I make all my links and jump rings by hand, and pair those with gemstones or various types of glass and ceramic beads.

When and how did you learn your craft?  I started out looking for an idea to help my daughter earn a little extra money for a trip to Greece when she was in high school.  I had seen an article on making beaded earrings, so we decided to try it.  I began with simple beading, then took a metals class at Sawtooth School for Visual Design and I was hooked!

Where do you get your inspiration from?  Both my husband and I are from the lowcountry of South Carolina – Charleston.  Much of my inspiration comes from the nature of the South Carolina lowcountry – waves, sand, shells, ocean colors, sea glass….

How did you get started doing this as a business?  I started selling beaded earrings at work about 4 years ago.  Then after I took the metals class, I began looking at jewelry at craft shows and in shops and thought – Hey, maybe I could sell some things this way!  Then I visited the Kville Indie Flea (a Saturday handmade and vintage market) when it was operating in Kernersville and decided to give it a try.  The Kville Indie Flea has morphed into Eclection, a permanent storefront - handmade and vintage shop in Kernersville and I now sell my jewelry there, and at River and Sea Gallery in Wilmington, N.C.   I also do a limited number of craft shows.  I plan to retire next year and then I hope to expand the number of shops carrying my jewelry and also plan to do a few more craft shows a year.

Do you have any advice for other crafters/artisans just starting out?  Make items that you personally like, not just things you think will be popular and sell well.  That way you really enjoy it. But don’t lose sight of the fact that it is a business, and it’s no fun if nobody buys your items.  Customer service is of the utmost importance.  Making that connection with the customer is what makes it fun for me.  I love to make custom items for my customers and have quite a few repeat customers who purchase annually.  Last year, for example, I had a customer contact me that I had not heard from recently and I created four new pieces for her from some vintage jewelry that was her mother’s.  I took one bracelet and made several bracelets and necklaces by taking the major components and adding new wire links and a few new beads. That was really a fun project!

Anything else you would like to share? I am so thankful to live in the Triad where there is such a welcoming, cooperative community of artisans.  Folks here value local and handmade, and appreciate the time and effort that goes into one-of-a-kind items.  When I make a necklace, there are so many steps – creating the links and jump rings, wiring the components, assembling the piece, cleaning, adding a patina, polishing with steel wool then sealing the patina with microcrystalline wax.  The customers in this area value and appreciate that hard work and it makes the whole process enjoyable.

Lowcountry Elements will be a featured artist at the First Friday Indie Market on September 5, 2014.  The market is located on the corner of MLK and Elm St in Downtown Greensboro, NC and is open from 4-9 pm.

To find out more about Lowcountry Elements:

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