Feeling lackluster? Looking to be more industrious? Let Amanda Sellers, a local artist who has knitted your scarves, made your greeting cards, sung you songs at local bars, and is now opening a new online store to sell her silver jewelry (ryegrassstudio.com, @ryegrass.studio on Instagram) tell you about doing things yourself.
Are you just bored?I don’t know that I’m bored, I just have a job that doesn’t have a lot of creativity. I work in banking, so it’s pretty bland. I have a great job, and I like it, but there’s not a lot of creativity involved. I crave creativity in my life, so it’s nice to do something in my spare time.
Do you choose these activities randomly, or what?I usually want something that I can’t find. That’s why I started knitting. That’s why I learned calligraphy. I wanted to have things, but I didn’t want to have to pay for them. [laughs] I started making jewelry because I was looking for this very specific ring and I couldn’t find it anywhere, and I thought, “How hard could it be?” So I started learning. I never did make that ring that I was after, though. Oops! [laughs]
So, how hard is it?Not that hard. It takes a lot of practice, steady hands, and the ability to mess with something until you can figure it out. I did take a class. It was a two-day thing in Texas with my mom who was already looking to do the same thing. She called me one day to say that she had found this class and asked if I wanted to do it with her. I had already found a class that I wanted to take, but we ended up doing it together.
What sort of equipment does it take?I have a torch! My husband, Stephen, thinks that I’m going to burn the house down, but I’m probably not going to. Lots of silver. Sheets and wire and solder. Stones. Turquoise, white buffalo. I’ve used some coral and onyx. Jasper, too. They’re all naturally occurring stones and most are from the area. I use lots of hammers. Lots of large-sized tin snips, clippers, big-ass files. And when you’re done, there’s this shiny, pretty thing. It’s more physical than I thought it would be. I thought for a little while about renting an office space, but realized that no one could work next to me as I’m hammering away on metal. There’s a little bit of rage. [laughs]
That sounds like quite the investment …Yeah, and a lot more than buying the one ring! [laughs] I had looked into it a lot before I took that class, which was actually in Amarillo, where my parents live. I drove all the way down there, and halfway through the first day I thought, “I’m doing this.” My mom and I went and bought half the stuff I needed right after that class – well, at least what we could find. It takes a lot of specialized tools and things that you can’t find just anywhere. I got the rest of it on the way home from Amarillo two days later. Turns out Albuquerque is a hub.
What have you learned between making your first piece and now preparing to open your own store?If you have an eye for it, you just have an eye for it. It’s the putting it together that’s hard. Things move when you solder them, so you’re torching stuff and then adjusting things as they’re glowing red, which is a little nerve-wracking. Using fire takes a lot of getting used to.
It’s amazing to me that you’re creating such professional quality in these disparate creative DIY avenues. Are you an obsessive?Absolutely. Stephen would agree. I’ll come home for lunch and do it, and then I forget to eat and then I eat lunch at my desk, and then I go home and do it some more. I do other things, but I do it a lot until I figure it out. This came fairly naturally to me. I don’t have the first things I made anymore, but I would wear them. Obviously, I’ve learned some things, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be, which might be why it’s so much fun. I jumped into making finished products pretty quickly.
Any advice to the aspiring?You just have to love it enough to do it a ton. If you don’t like it, do something else.
Cyle Talley is loving this crispy air. If there’s anything you’d like to Get Smart about, email him at: [email protected]