Words of advice from today’s featured handmade jeweler – If you haven’t yet: attend a craft show! You’ll be amazed as I always am at the innovative creations I stumble across and compulsively must buy– the handmade market is a treasure chest full of unique, rare & precious one of a kind finds, craft/art shows are definitely worth visiting!
Desiree T. Castro
-I am guilty of adding salt to food before tasting it.
-I will shamelessly creatively brainstorm while pretending to listen to someone talk.
-I am a playwright.
-I love law & order, vampires, & sour patch candy.
What got you started crafting?
I have always been obsessed with collecting earrings: the crazier, brightest, colorful-est, oddest earrings-- Then while visiting Puerto Rico this summer, I met a street vendor who inspired me to come back to Chicago and start making my own. So I found some wire, my friend made me a steel block and I would come home from my cubicle, sit in front of my house and start shaping, twisting, turning and hammering my wire earrings on my front stoop. Then a snow-ball effect happened where I could not stop dreaming up new designs and ways to create jewelry. In three months I had 6 collections: "Abstract & Contrary," Steel jump rings I hand paint and assemble into necklaces & earrings- "Wired Expressions," my hammered wire earrings-- "Heart of a Biker," jump rings that resemble bike cranks-- "Word Puzzles," my letter stamping collection where I stamp words away on necklaces & earrings, my "Kaleidoscope" Collection that is my new fascination of sealing images of all sorts into pins, earrings & rings and finally my: a 'I'm a Jerk" series-- that I created to contain all the profanity, rude and sarcastic head-nodding words I stamp on metal. I have a dozen more ideas swimming in my head and if only I had more hours in a day... but I will get to them, because the ideas are like a scorned lover refusing to let me forget them-- they burn into the forefront demanding to be created- so I must and will get to materialize them.
What is your source of inspiration?
Life, love, insanity, people, emotions, experience, all of it! I pull from all angles. My most transparent collection is the "Word Puzzles" Collection of hand-stamped jewelry I have. It was brought to my attention by a very special person who is close to my heart that apparently the type of week I am having is loudly advertised in what I decide to stamp on metal that week.
For example: One week I stamped "F*** this, F*** that, F*** off, etc-- and the next week I stamped: Love, Faith, Believe, Amor, got Milf, etc..on earrings--so clearly I was on a different emotional wave length those two weeks and my hand-stamping can give me away. Which being the private person I am, I am learning to deal with but also have fun with because humor lies in honesty and in that case, I got some laughs for the world.
What have you made recently?
I recently started rummaging through the character files I have created in my writing projects and put their voices and opinions on pendants in relation to famous art pieces... I haven't posted any pics yet on my store because they are still in process, but it is a mixture of fantasy and reality, heartbreak and heart-happy, cruel & kind, hard to swallow and easy to digest, rude and in-your-face, funny type pendants. I'm curious to see how people react as I get bolder with my creations, which translates to: I'm interested to see how people react as they near the core of my insanity which is my creative vortex of a mind, heart & soul.
Where do you sell your crafts presently?
I started on Etsy. I opened my store: Mano y Metal in mid October 2010. Then since the holiday season was just beginning I signed up for one craft show after another, and pulling all nighters to create inventory... and despite the lack of sleep it was so energizing to establish myself as a vendor and see people's reactions to my work in person. But I love Etsy! I have joined teams and came across so many awesome sellers/stores that continue to inspire me with their stories and creations. So as of now: Etsy is my primary source of selling and Mano y Metal makes appearances at local Chicago art/craft shows!
Why are handmade crafts important to you?
When I found myself coming home and being magnetized to hammer out some earrings everyday, I thought to myself: Look woman, if you are going to be make jewelry you are going to be serious about it and do it full force because you don't have time for a hobby!
So I did just that: I went full force, opened the store, signed myself up for craft shows, researched, became obsessed with shopping for new tools and have not been able to stop because the reality is--I do not have a choice: I must create, if not I die. Seriously, I am not being dramatic, I mean I am dramatic by nature but if I try to deny myself creative time-- I get C-R-A-N-K-Y, sad, withdrawn... (fill in all the side-effects of those sleep-aid drugs advertised on TV) the point is: I am not happy if I am not creating. Even if it is choreographing an entire dance to my favorite song in my living room alone, I need that, or editing pics to have an artistic edge, or googling the crap out of "how to make a race-track cake" for my 4 year old son's birthday party-- I need to be creative. So Mano y Metal has been an amazing and fulfilling venture for me because I am able to share my creations with the world. I am able to create things people want to wear and appreciate and that is mind boggling and explosively addicting-- because ever piece I create carries a bit of my spirit in them and that cannot be found in mass-produced chain store products-- and that is the beauty of handmade items.
Desiree T. Castro