Learn more about Kathy and her work by visiting her blog: http://catjudesigns.blogspot.com.
1. How did you first become interested in making jewelry?
I became interested in making jewelry many years ago when my sister gave me a jewelry making kit for Christmas. It had little tiny gemstone chips, and instructions to make a necklace, bracelet and earrings. I was hooked! At the time it was very difficult to get jewelry making supplies, as there was no internet. I found a catalog to purchase from an ad in a craft magazine (of course no color photos like now, just line drawings) and ordered some beads.
I also went to a couple of craft shows and talked with vendors there who were selling their jewelry. They did not want to share their sources with me on where they got their supplies, and were very suspicious when I told them I also made jewelry. Boy, was I glad when the internet came along, especially eBay. In 2001 I got my start with being able to purchase supplies online and even took a few classes. I have been making jewelry ever since.
2. What inspires your designs, and what materials do you especially enjoy working with?
I look for inspiration everywhere, especially unique color combinations. Gemstone beads often have interesting colors and patterns, which helps decide what colors I use in making a necklace and earring set. My favorite material to work with are Swarovski crystal beads--nothing sparkles like Swarovski. They have so many colors, sizes, and finishes--they are just so beautiful. You can really dress up a mediocre bead and make it pop by adding Swarovski crystals.
3. Your pieces related to sports teams are very unique--could you tell us a little about those pieces and the response they've received from customers and the media?
I started making jewelry using sports teams charms when a friend of mine asked if I could make her a pair of Ravens earrings. I found the charms, and of course had to dress them up with Swarovski crystals. Suprisingly enough, the sport team jewelry is very popular the whole year through, not just during the season. And when the Ravens won the championship game, I could hardly keep up with the orders. It also helped that someone posted a photo with a link to a pair of the earrings on the Washington Post website, so that exposure created an increase in visits to my Etsy shop.
4. What has your experience been on Etsy, and do you also sell your work offline?
I have been selling on Etsy for a little over two years, and it has been a positive experience. I have had many repeat customers, which is always nice. I especially like working with brides to make something for them to wear at their wedding. They often send me a photo of them wearing the jewelry, which is truly wondrous to see and know that I have been a part of someone's special day.
I also sell my work to friends and co-workers, and host a show every fall at my house. I am always searching for other ways to expand my business. One of the things I do is donate jewelry to charities to use for door prizes or auctions at their fundraising events. And I do custom work, too: I've made jewelry to match prom dresses and for a 50th wedding anniversary party. What fun!
5. What topics will readers find you posting about on your blog?
Readers can find topics on my blog relating to new Swarovski colors, before and after projects where I take an old, sometimes vintage piece of jewelry and transform it into something else, tutorials, guest blogs, other artists I have met--a little bit of everything!