In 2010, I enrolled at Santa Monica College to pursue that degree that I had never quite finished. I had intended to major in Math, but after my 3rd or 4th semester of sneaking an art class onto my schedule, my husband urged me to change my major to Art. I soon fell in love with 3D media and in 2014 I transferred to Cal State Long Beach intending to major in Sculpture, but soon found myself drawn to the Metals Department. One semester in and I was hooked...a socially acceptable way to play with fire and hit things with hammers? Sign me up! During my time at CSULB, I fell in love with enameling and blacksmithing. I served as the President of the CSULB Metal Arts Guild, and I earned a BFA in 3D Media, emphasis in Metals in 2016. Soon after graduating, my husband and I moved to a new larger home in Northridge, where I was able to turn one of our spare bedrooms into a metalsmithing studio.
After finishing school, I began experimenting with different mediums, trying to find my artistic voice. Besides Metalsmithing, my other passion is knitting and fiber arts. I was looking for a way to combine the two, and began experimenting with etching the stockinette and garter stitch patterns into sterling silver, brass and copper. I began with earrings, but have since branched out to pendants, cuff bracelets, shawl pins, and will soon be offering trinket bowls and copper light switch plates etched with my signature patterns. My jewelry is available on my website, www.birdieparker.com, and I also sell at trunk shows hosted by local yarn stores. Next year I will be participating as a vendor at several large knitting conventions, and I also hope to expand to offering my products wholesale to yarn stores across the world.
All of my work involves electro-etching, so my most valuable tools are the Cricut Maker that I use to to make my vinyl design resists, and my Variable DC Power Supply Rectifier.
I also utilize a hydraulic press and my bench shear is also well-loved.
If I could offer any advice to jewelry artists newly starting a business, it would be to educate yourself about what exactly is required in your city to start a business. Do you need a license and insurance? Teach yourself some rudimentary photography skills and dive into building a website. Marketing your work on social media can feel like a full time job in itself, but it’s definitely necessary. Learning some basic accounting/Quickbook skills will not only help you with your personal and business taxes, but it will also help you to know exactly what your bottom line is and will be invaluable with determining your hourly rate and how to price your work. Don’t be afraid to reach out to another artist whose work and/or sites you admire; most Metalsmiths are friendly and generous with advice.
In 2019, I will be taking over as the Membership Chair of MASSC, and I look forward to working with the Board to continue to build our Society, as well as meeting all of you at an upcoming event!