This week we are featuring Lili of lilicharms! Lili makes fantastic beaded and wire wrapped jewelry that is sure to please! Check out her story:
“After being away for many years, I recently moved to a lovely new house in Louisville, Kentucky, my hometown and all-around fine city. I share this house with my husband, who doubles as my photography department, and two adorable cats. Most people know me as “Fran,” which is short for my middle name, Frances. When opening this shop in May 2012, I decided to use “Lili,” which is short for my first name, Lillian. I did this partly to symbolize a new direction in life and partly to honor my grandmother, the wonderful woman and craftsperson for whom I was named. Grandmother Lillian made the most beautiful, impeccable, intricate quilts totally by hand. It’s hard to believe I grew up sleeping under these quilts that I now treat as invaluable works of art. By assuming my grandmother’s name – my name – I aspire to produce works that will similarly delight their owners for many years to come.
After dabbling in assorted arts and crafts throughout my life, a few years ago, I discovered jewelry-making. The variety of colors and shapes in the beads and the need to continually master new tools and techniques were utterly absorbing. I fell in love with glass, especially artisan lampwork glass. In these days of mass production, it is inspiring to know that these beads were each produced one at a time by artists who have devoted years to perfecting their craft. Long before I decided to open my own shop on Etsy, I spent many a delightful evening exploring the shops of Etsy lampwork artisans. As my collection of these wonderful beads grew, I wanted to share them in easy-to-wear and affordable jewelry for real women who live real lives.
I’ve noticed that many jewelry artists on Etsy emphasize the “one of a kind” (OOAK) nature of their work. I admire this immensely but adopted a somewhat different strategy. Before I opened my shop, I spent several months perfecting particular designs that were comfortable, beautiful but subtle, and that had a distinctive, recognizable look that could be replicated with different beads using the same basic design. That is, I focused on creating (hopefully) lasting designs and collections rather than OOAK, never to be repeated, works. It is so fascinating to read these different accounts of artisans’ creative styles. Some sound fun but chaotic! I’ll never be one who can sit down with a random pile of beads and create a masterpiece. I am, by nature, a planful person, and my jewelry reflects this, for better or worse.
The collections themselves have evolved over time but my process has remained pretty much the same. For example, you would laugh to hear how long I spent on my first “floating pearl” memory wire bracelet, as I experimented with a variety of patterns, lengths of curved tube beads, and even the size of the seed beads I used before declaring, “This is it!” Since then, I’ve made and sold dozens of bracelets in a wide array of color combinations all essentially following this particular design. Similarly, my “layered gemstone” memory wire bracelet looks deceptively simple, but it actually resulted from a lot of planning to find harmonious natural gemstones and just the right accent beads.
I’m updating my profile tonight, almost 30 months into the life of my shop. I have well over 1,000 sales now and a good mix of new and repeat customers, for which I am so very grateful. I am so happy to be part of the Etsy community. Regardless of whether you shop here or elsewhere in Etsy, I thank you for supporting handmade. For me, buying handmade has become a cause – a way of preserving my grandmother’s way of life that was almost lost in the latter part of the 20th century but remarkably has been reinvigorated by technologies like the internet and Etsy.”