EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is the next installment in a series of articles highlighting local artists who create wearable art. These Fashion Friday features will be published each month on First Friday.)
Jule Hanford, 46, from Montoursville, began her career as a corporate buyer for American Greetings, but has been creating jewelry for 20 years.
She specializes in sculpting clay beads and combining them with silver to make gorgeous art to wear. To learn more about Jules Artwear, contact the artist by phone at 447-8959, in store at Patinaz, 400 Pine St., visit her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JulesArtwear or at the numerous festivals listed on her website at www.jules artwear.com.
Look for the Jules Artwear kiosk during the Christmas season at the Lycoming Mall in the center court.
Tara D. McKinney: How did you learn your craft and make the decision to create professionally?
Jule Hanford: I'm self-taught. I've been creating things since I was a little kid. I could never settle on any one thing until I stumbled upon polymer clay thanks to an old friend who learned from local bead artist Steven Bastian. After leaving my corporate position as a buyer for 400 card and gift stores, I was looking for something that would keep me home with my two young children. My first show turned out to be a success and there was no turning back. I jumped right in!
TDM: What processes are involved in making clay beads?
JH: Polymer clay is a versatile and fascinating material. Marbleizing is my favorite technique as the results are always surprising. Clay colors can be mixed like paint to create new colors and, therefore, the spectrum is endless. I also use a variety of textures from found objects and stampings. My experience has shown that my customers enjoy pieces that are simple, every day designs. I love to combine my beads with my silver work, making each piece unique, yet timeless. It's always satisfying to see someone wearing a piece they purchased 10 or 15 years ago.
TDM: What inspires you to create wearable works of art?
JH: Inspiration comes from every direction at unexpected times in the changing of the season, fashion, textiles, and so on. I tend to do a lot of creative thinking while I run, especially when I'm out on the trail enjoying the woods, water and nature at its finest.
TDM: What do you love about being an artist and businesswoman in Williamsport?
JH: I love the nostalgia and romance of downtown. There is a down-to-earth social experience that occurs when people are out on First Friday enjoying the old buildings and remembering days of shopping downtown when they were young.
TDM: Often, people are great artists or businesspeople, but find it difficult to play both roles because they are at such opposite ends of the spectrum. How do you reconcile the business side of your work with the creative side?
JH: I am both creative and analytical. I really enjoy marketing and social media - all of which are critical to a successful business. Both aspects of my business are satisfying, although, I wish I could put aside the business more often to have more time to play with my work!
TDM: Can you give me an idea of how much one of your designs would cost?
JH: A pair of sterling silver earrings with clay bead charms are $18. A modern Victorian necklace made with large handcrafted chain links of organic shapes in fine silver is $130.
TDM: Can you describe your relationship with your partner at Patinaz?
JH: Suzette Mason and I are good friends who share a similar outlook on how we do business. We simply have fun while we work. Our emphasis is on making everyone feel at home in our shop just as we do. We offer each other support and friendly competition that keeps us motivated.
TDM: Do you participate in any festivals or gallery showings of your work?
JH: I exhibit at about 20 art festivals each year, including the People's Choice Festival in Boalsburg and the Lewisburg Arts Festival. My work can also be found at Eagles Mere Art Gallery where I am a partner with a number of other talented artists.
TDM: Are there any local artists you admire?
JH: We are fortunate to have an art rich community. I couldn't pick just one artist. There are so many people I admire. Patinaz alone has the work of 40 artisans who perfectly represent the wealth of talent and creativity in our area.
TDM: What would you say is the best part of working at Patinaz?
JH: A big part of what I love about Patinaz is showing, telling and selling the creative work of others in addition to my own work. It's satisfying to talk to customers about the variety of handcrafted goodness we are fortunate enough to represent.
McKinney may be reached at life@sun gazette.com.
To submit an artist for consideration, email email@example.com or call 326-1551, ext. 3108.