Sunday, February 3, 2013

Featured artist Cynthia from Antiquitiy Travelers

Hello everyone after a whole month of being challenged with the photo a day challenge in January I am back to regular programming.  Today back with the featured artist I bring you Cynthia from Antiquity Travelers a fellow blogger whose source of inspiration is travel and exploration!  Enjoy the interview.

1. Tell us as little or as much as you would like about yourself.
I don’t think any one of us define ourselves by any one thing. But perhaps where I grew up does give an insight into who I am. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest in a small coastal town where fishing and logging are a way of life. Most people are employed in the mills, canneries, or as fishermen and loggers. I think this simplicity of life grounds me.

Wanting to travel is something that came later. I didn’t travel much until I was out of college, but once I started I just could not stop. Luckily both my husband and I share a love of travel; to see another culture and to explore the history of the place. We always look for a good local museum, and if I can find it I look for an exhibit on jewelry. You can tell a lot from a people by what they valued. For example, one of my favorite books on jewelry is one on Native American beadwork which gives such rich history to the traditional stitching. I blogged about this awhile back describing a Native American tradition of using a Spirit Bead:

This tradition dates as far back as 800 A.D. and served as talismans against threat.  The spirit bead is one that stands apart from the rest of the pattern; sometimes a bead of a different color. Native Americans believed that each piece should contain an intentional mistake (or spirit bead) somewhere within the pattern because humans cannot achieve perfection. If we attempt perfection it could be bad luck. And the spirit world would not enter into anything that was flawless. So a spirit bead was sewn in among the others to provide a flaw where the spirit could enter and flow through the beadwork. A spirit bead is a reminder anything created by human hands cannot be perfect. These Native American beaders would intentionally include a wrong colored bead as a way to honor the Great Spirit and express humility. 

I first started making beaded jewelry as a girl. I think I was about 8 years old. My family took a trip to Crater Lake and I was fascinated by the Native American beadwork I saw at the park stores. My grandmother bought me my first beaded necklace, and I was hooked. Once I got home I begged my mother to take me to the local bead store to buy seed beads. I guess beading and making jewelry has turned out to be a life-long passion for me.

Beading in Native American Tradition (book): Blog post:

Earrings:  Vintage Adventurine and Onyx
2. What do you sell?  I sell jewelry. It is all handmade using items like semi-precious stones, pearls, shells, art glass, enamels or the occasional beachcombing item like seaglass. I use gold and silver earwires as I have allergies to base metals and so I swear by not using them for the items I create.  I rarely duplicate an item as I create each piece as an artistic outlet. I’m lucky that this is a hobby for me, and I don’t need to focus on the margins. I am just trying to afford my bead-a-holic tendencies so I can buy more beautiful beads! But in all seriousness, handmade is labor intensive. I have such respect for the artisans on sites like Etsy and Artfire who have dedicated themselves to making a business with their craft. I recently joined an Etsy team call Blogging Business Artisans (BBA). This is an amazing team of people dedicated to handmade. They are very hard working, putting in long hours to create their items, and all for the love of their craft and running their own business. I have been so impressed by the dedication they have and how supportive they are to each and every person on the team. 

3. Why handmade?  My common response to this is ‘because I don’t knit.’ It is a relaxing hobby to me. Some people like to knit the hours away; making scarf after scarf. That isn’t me. I like the uniqueness of handmade jewelry, and challenge myself to create in a way that ties to art, history or culture. 

One other reason for handmade is that I hope to pass on a legacy to my girls. My Grandmother taught me how to crochet and to sew. It is a lost art really. I want my girls to understand the value of making something with your hands. They both bead as well, although I’m not sure that they’ll really dive in. But that isn’t the point. I want them to understand the time that artisans put into a craft. They see that with me and the jewelry I make. 

Gold and Onyx earrings
4. Where does your inspiration to create come from and/or your inspiration in life?  
My inspiration comes from pretty much everywhere. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed most about starting to blog about jewelry making is meeting other people who share my passion. The blog hops the beading community regularly sponsor are a way to get everyone together to try something new. For me it has been a fun challenge to use inspiration in my jewelry creation I probably would not have thought of. Sometimes it is a new technique (a particular bead stitch), a new material (sequins) or a color pallet (color ways as beaders call them).  At this point in my jewelry making journey I will try just about any technique. Some stick, some are complete disasters. But the journey really is the fun of it all. 

5. Besides creating what else do you do? Do you have a full time job?I do have a full time job. I work in Advertising, in New York City. But I live in Connecticut, so I commute into the city everyday (90 minutes one way – or 3 hours a day). That is a lot of time on a train. But it is when I get the chance to read blogs, and I read a lot of them.   
The funny thing is that I always knew I wanted to work in Advertising. As a kid when people asked, it was my answer. I’m not sure how I knew, but I can tell you that once I ‘arrived’ in advertising I wanted something else. It was fun at first – a small town girl moving to the big city. But I think as we grow older, we realize that we want more out of life.

6. When did you start thinking you were an artist?
I’m not sure that I think of it that way. I see all these amazing artisans in the beading community that I hang out with. They make glass lampwork beads, bronze components, pottery beads. The work is truly amazing. I love taking these artisan items and using them in the jewelry I create. But I guess I feel more like a jeweler than an artisan. Perhaps it is because so much of the jewelry I actually sell is commissioned. 

Tahitian Pearls
7. Who has been most influential in your craft work?
This is a tough question for me as current people aren’t my influence. If I consider what one thing inspires me most it would be history. I am completely fascinated with ancient cultures; where they lived, how they lived, what they wore. Generally what life must have been like to live a day in their shoes. Jewelry making is an artistic outlet for me, so I try to just let the ideas flow. And I guess my imagination just gets going when I think of some of these ancient civilizations. 
Blog post:

8. Where would you like to be in five years?
Retired! And traveling the world. Sadly, I have quite a few more years before that can become a reality for me. So in the meantime we try to do as much travel as possible as a family in between the kids’ school breaks and my work vacation time.

9. Is there anything you'd like to try doing that you haven't done? crafts, sports, life in general?
I think this list could be endless for me. Maybe in another life I would have been a museum curator or perhaps an archeologist. When I think about what I’d love to try my hand at in the world of jewelry it would be metalwork and how to set jewels. For travel, the list is a crazy long one; I’ve got an entire Pinterest board created as my bucket list. There are just so many places I still want to see in my lifePinterest board:

10. Besides online where else do you sell?
I sell quite a bit offline. I have a lot of people who know I make jewelry at my office, friends (who find my work on Facebook) or from my train ride each day. Blog content label (Train Jeweler):

Ways to contact you:


  1. Claudia! thank you so much for the interview! So strange to read about yourself on someone else's blog :)

  2. Cynthia's work is so amazing! I love how she uses findings from her travels and that each piece tells such a unique story!

  3. Wonderful article. Cynthia's creations are beautiful, and she's also a terrific blogger.

  4. Great interview Claudia! Cynthia's work is so beautiful and I love how history has so much influence on her designs. I am glad she has blogging to keep herself occupied on that super long commute! :)

  5. Fabulous - it was great to read about Cynthia and get to know her a little more!

  6. I loved reading more about Cynthia! I have long admired her work and dedication to her craft!


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