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Artist profile: Joan Babcock

Artist: Joan Babcock
Business name: Joan Babcock Designs
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Joan Babcock
Micro-Macrame Jewelry

Joan, how do you describe your work?
I make jewelry in a variety of different mediums including fiber, wire, and metal, but I particularly like working with fiber. I'm best known as a micro-macrame artist and have written 2 books and a DVD on that technique.

What is your creative process like?
I do a lot of experimenting with the materials. Many times the results are not that great but I always learn something in the process. I've gotten better about keeping a record of the things that work or don't work so I don't have to repeat the same lessons several times. I'm really driven to discover something new, to pursue a fresh idea. I find it boring to repeat the same exact design - then it feels like work, not pleasure. I follow my intuition when creating a new design - I usually start out with a specific idea but I let it go where it wants.

My studio is my haven. I like to listen to music or the sound of silence. I usually work in 4 -6 hour chunks and rarely keep close track of my hours. I'm fairly disorganized which is a constant challenge. I think it's because I'm self-employed and I don't have someone else telling me what I need to do. I'm glad to be autonomous but I often feel like I need to be more focused and disciplined.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I've taken a lot of art related classes in my life and I've developed my art-confidence over the years. Taking a course in metalsmithing at the community college was an important learning experience for me. I'm a fan of books as a great and inexpensive way to learn something new.

How did you move from being a hobbyist to a professional?
I never thought of art/crafts as a way to make money until I moved to Santa Fe and got a job at an "art tile" business. I saw how they sold their products at trade shows and wholesale to gift shops. At about that time I discovered jewelry making and started doing outdoor craft shows. I created a wholesale line of beaded bolo ties and earrings and sold those for a while. As time went on I realized that I enjoyed making one of a kind pieces much more so I focused on galleries to sell my work. That's how I sell now, a few galleries and my website.

Is there a tool or material that you can't imagine living without?
My macrame board and quilting pins.

What inspires you to create?
I'm inspired by the joy of creating. It transports you away from everyday cares and worries. You can lose track of time and get into an altered state - a meditative state.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
I know that "this too shall pass". I've accepted that creativity is an up and down path and I don't expect it to always be smooth (although I wish it were!) I trust that when I'm not feeling "on" creatively that something new is brewing under the surface. Like the cycles in nature, there are cycles in creativity.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
There's no substitute for being passionate about a certain artform and putting in the hours of trial and error that helps you to develop your own style. Although there are many beautiful techniques that may vie for your attention, focus on one technique and really explore it.

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
I'm a homebody at heart and love hanging out with my husband Jeff and my cats. I feel restored by nature so I like taking walks everyday. I like reading good novels, watching movies (especially period dramas of the 18 & 19th century) listening to beautiful music and dancing.

What's your favorite book?
At the moment I enjoy Eckhart Tolles The Power of Now

Don't miss Joan's books and DVD:
Micro-Macramé Jewelry: Tips and Techniques for Knotting with Beads
Wired Micro-Macramé Jewelry: Enhancing Fiber Designs with Wire
Micro-Macrame & Cavandoli Knotting, Level One

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Roberta Warshaw said…
Thanks for a great interview! I have long admired Joan's work.
Cyndi L said…
Her pieces are amazing, aren't they? :-)
Genevieve said…
Spectacular work. Great sense of colour too.
Wow, wonderful work.They are eye catching with her great work of art and unique design.I too love the color combination u have used which just adorn the beauty of the design more.
Thank you for introducing us to Joan, Cyndi.

Her work is absolutely beautiful. I love the uniqueness and the sculptural qualities. Truly each piece is one of a kind.

Joan, thanks for sharing your beautiful artwork and some terrific tips with us!
Micro Macrame said…
Joan got me started with her books and I haven't looked back since. Thanks for the great interview and the resources you provide here.
Sarah Sequins said…
Joan's an amazing artist, and also a wonderful person and teacher. I took a beaded mosaic class from her a few years ago, and it was one of my favorites! :)