interview with amira mednick

While attending Art Hop in Portland last spring I discovered the colorful and intricate jewelry of Amira Mednick.  I remember thinking," this girl has a great understanding of color and composition."  I've become obsessed with Amira's work.  My interview series gave me the perfect excuse to learn more about Amira and her jewelry line.

Where do you draw your inspiration?
I spend a lot of time looking at things, all kinds of things.  I don't always know where or when something I've seen makes a mark on me.  Often I see a new design while I am working on a current piece and this makes me want to finish the piece I am working on so I can start the new one before I forget it!  I do sketch out some of my ideas, trying to document an idea before it escapes my mind.  I wish I kept a note pad with me at all times so I could really get down every idea.  I find inspiration in the colors; lines and textures of nature, hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, camping in Bend surrounded by sage green dried desert bushes and bluish gray grasses.  I think that most of all I am inspired by the colors I see all around.   Other designers are a huge source of inspiration for me.  I am constantly looking at the work of other designers and artists.  While I was living in Argentina I came across the shop and studio of designer Gabriela Horvat.  Seeing her work was a very important moment of realization for me as an artist.

Where did you learn the knotting technique you use to make pieces?
After graduating from art school, I traveled throughout Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Uruguay.  My boyfriend (and best friend) and I wanted to volunteer and see more of the world.  I brought string with me to create friendship bracelets for the children with whom we would be volunteering at the end of our travels in Buenos Aires.  The first stop we made in Argentina was in a small town named Bariloche along the Andes Mountain.  There, I saw artists in the plaza displaying their knotted jewelry.  Their work reminded me of the bracelets I used to make when I was eleven years old, all summer long, knotting away with my friends.  But, their work was different and I wanted to learn.  While traveling I asked various artists about their knotting techniques and the materials they used.  I even found a store in some remote town on the eastern coast of Argentina that sold some of the string they use, a waxed nylon.  I looked over artists shoulders while they worked on the street to figure out how they started and finished a bracelet.  While on long bus rides, I spent much of my time trying to figure out how to make these pieces of knotted jewelry.  It was only until about 4 months into our travels that I finally asked an Argentine artist in Buenos Aires if she could teach me.  We spent a few hours at a coffee shop knotting and she told me more about the string and where to buy it.  There are so many artists in Argentina making elaborate and intricate macrame jewelry.  Since then I have been experimenting a lot trying to create modern macrame pieces, pieces that translate to todays' fashion.

What are some of your favorite tools and materials?
I could not make the pieces I make without this incredible waxed nylon string.  It holds the knot well and I can burn and melt the ends eliminating the need for glue.  I also love incorporating metallic beads into my woven pieces and various glass and stone beads.  A few months ago I began experimenting with canvas, vinyl and leather, painting it, varnishing and creating wearable art.  I think it is exciting to find new uses for materials, like canvas for jewelry.  But, above all, I think my most favorite artistic tool is color!

What inspired you to sell your work at Portland Saturday Market?
I moved to Portland about a year and a half ago.  One detail I had researched about Portland was the Portland Saturday Market.  It seemed like a place that has been allowing, encouraging and supporting creative and innovative people to suport themselves as artists. Once my boyfriend and I arrived in Portland, it took me sometime to apply and start selling at the Market.  The first show I participated in was the Portland Rose Festival, which is where I met an artist who told me great things about the Market.  I signed up as a Guest Vendor after that and eventually became a Fill-in Member.  The Market is a great networking tool.  I have learned of many great shows, made some wholesale contacts, created relationships with returning customers and met many wonderful artists.  I am lucky to live in a city that supports local creativity.

When you aren't creating, what do you enjoy doing?
So, I really spend most of my time crafting.  I am totally obsessed and have countless ideas and color combinations running through my mind all day long.  I have lists everywhere of pieces I hope to soon create.  But, when I am not creating, I love going for hikes in the Gorge, cooking and painting - more creating!  I also love watching movies, going to yard sales and shopping at Goodwill.

Picture taken by Amira while hiking in the Gorge.

Can you share a few of your favorite places in Portland?
Kennedy School, Next Adventure, Tender Loving Empire, Forest Park, Laurelhurst Park, the Daily Cafe on Grand Avenue - super friendly staff and yummy food, SCRAP, Grilled Cheese Cart, Spring Water Corridor Trail, Mississippi Studios, and I could go on....

Upcoming events for Amira Jewelry:
Portland Saturday Market various weekends until December 25th
Crafty Wonderland Pop Up Shop Mid-November thru end of December
Handmade NW Holiday Show December 19th

Thanks so much, Amira!

Amira Jewlery:

battling self-doubt

I try to stay positive, but sometimes doubt creeps in.  What am I doing?  How can I possibly compete with other stationery companies?  Should I throw in the towel?

I'd like to share how I push through self-doubt and get back on track.

Make a list of positives.  Write down a list of connections, collaborations, and opportunities that have presented themselves due to your efforts.  List everything...not matter how small it may seem.  For example, I've participated in a couple craft shows in which I've made little profit.  The silver lining is that I met some incredible artists and crafters that I now call friends.  

Surround yourself with people that love you.  I always feel energized and inspired after spending time with my friends.  Their support and encouragement give me the boost I need to move forward.

Surround yourself with things you love.  I fill my work space with letters, artwork, photos and trinkets from my friends and family.   When I'm unable to spend time with loved ones this is the next best thing.

Utilize mini goals.  I use mini goals to accomplish long term goals that I find overwhelming.  I write a detailed to-do list and work my way through it.  

Trust yourself.  I'm constantly reminding myself,"make what you love and others will love it too."

What do you do to break through self-doubt?

etsy faves: oregon

friends on the road

(photo courtesy of tyler kalberg)

My good friends, Drew Grow & the Pastors' Wives, are hitting the road tomorrow to begin their fall tour.  They are taking along the lovely and talented, Kelli Schaefer.  I know I'm slightly biased, but these artists put on an amazing show.  Every time they play in Portland I trek over from the coast.  

Watch this video for a taste of their live performance.

You can catch them tomorrow night at The Warehouse in Tacoma.  Check out the full list of tour dates on their facebook page.

studio corner

My studio is basically a card table in the corner of my living room.   I try to utilize every bit of space.  I'm thinking about installing a couple shelves to hold all my bits of inspiration.  My knick knacks are starting to take over my work surface.  My newest tchochke is a brown owl business card holder, pictured below.  I can't wait to use him as part of my display at craft shows!

My little owl needs a name.  Any suggestions?
I can never have enough pairs of scissors.
My mom made that hanging tag for me.  I love it.
Taking over the world one envelope at a time.

etsy faves: jewelry

new: five senses postcards

I'm very happy to introduce a brand new item to my stationery line...
Five Senses Upcycled Postcards

These note cards make letter-writing a breeze. Simply fill in the blanks to share your experiences from home or abroad.

Available for purchase in my shop.

with a little help from my friends

The Doe Bay Sessions - Kelli Schaefer from Sound on the Sound on Vimeo.

Kelli Schaefer @ CCT - Black Dog from Columbia City Theater on Vimeo.

My incredibly talented friend, Kelli Schaefer, needs help putting out her new record.  Visit kickstarter to fund her project.  Every little bit helps!

Catch up with Kelli while she's touring with Drew Grow & the Pastors' Wives October 27th through November 14th.  Check out her touring schedule.

current obsession: nightwood

I'm in love with the reincarnated furniture and textiles made by Nightwood.

(discovered via Design*Sponge)

nehalem bay

My Mom and I went for a walk along the bay this evening.  The sun was setting behind Neahkahnie Mountain while the moon was rising over the evergreens.  We were greeted by a kingfisher, a mallard couple and several sandpipers.  

I feel refreshed and ready to get some more work done before hitting the hay.

mini zine: rebels

My much anticipated mini zine, Rebels, is finally completed.  
The 3" square zine features 24 pages of full color collage.  

 School photos from a 1987 yearbook.
 Collage made from scraps left over from this project.
 Pages 10 &11
Lyrics from a bonus track on my friends' new album.

I had a lot of fun making this zine.  I can't wait to make another one.  

Rebels is available for purchase in my shop.

my dream office

My most recent Etsy treasury is devoted to items I'd love to have in my dream office/studio.  It's a nice mixture of handmade items and vintage finds.

Speaking of are a few my stationery has been featured in:

Hope you're all having a relaxing weekend.  

I'm going to stand in the rain tomorrow and cheer on a good friend while she runs in the Portland Marathon.  Run like the wind, Jess!

number 1

Sometimes I can't believe how blessed I am to have such supportive friends.  My pal, Emily, sent me a little surprise in the mail.  I was beyond stoked when I opened the box to find this adorable upcycled ribbon!

Thank you so much, Emily!  You're a peach.

mini zine

I'm working on a little zine for my shop.  I'm hoping to finish it this week.  

Hope you are all enjoying your weekend!