Celebrate Artisans this Small Business Saturday
Q&A with artist Diana Branscome, creator of our Sea Glass Jewelry Collection:
For Small Business Saturday, we’d like to take a moment and celebrate all of our artisans who run small businesses around the world. From villages, to co-ops, to living rooms and workshops, we are so proud to be able to share beautiful work made by talented hands from all corners of the globe.
One such gifted artist, is based right here in the USA. We discovered her gorgeous and eco-chic creations at a local farmers' market and fell in love with her work. Meet Diana Branscome, the maker of our gorgeous Sea Glass Jewelry collection.
VT: How did you get into jewelry making?
Diana: A long time ago, I was working as a legal analyst. It inspired me to do something creative in my off-time, and jewelry-making was the fun choice. I used gemstones and different metals and started a side business selling my work on weekends.
VT: Why did you choose to work with glass, specifically reclaimed and recycled glass?
Diana: After a number of years using semi-precious gemstone beads, I felt that I had explored most of the possibilities of the genre. I happened to go to a party at an interactive glass studio, and I ended up doing an apprenticeship there to learn the basics of fusing and slumping art glass. One day when walking downtown, I saw restaurants with recycling bins outside that held beautiful colors of bottles and thought that someone should do something with them. Then I realized that I was that someone! I started experimenting with making bowls and plates out of bottles. Occasionally, little bits of the vessels would drop away during firing, and that inspired me to make jewelry out of the smaller pieces.
VT: How are your glass stones tumbled/fired to look like sea glass?
Diana: There is actually no tumbling involved at all. I cut the nuggets at room temperature using a hand tool, then I fire them in the kiln overnight at over 1400 degrees. Sometimes they have sharp points when they come out, so I grind those smooth. They are still shiny after firing, so I sandblast them to give them a beachy texture.
VT: How long does it take to assemble one of your necklaces?
Diana: There is no simple answer to this one! I make the necklaces in batches, so there is gathering, soaking and de-labeling, cutting/shaping, overnight firing, grinding, sandblasting, washing, two-step epoxy with 24-hour cure period, then actual assembly, and finally packaging.
VT: Do you have helpers or are you the sole artisan for your collections?
Diana: At present, I am the sole artisan for my collections. I am lucky that VivaTerra is understanding in allowing me to send my work in batches rather than building it all up at once.
VT: Any other interesting details about the Sea Glass Jewelry collection?
Diana: The glass in the Sea Glass Jewelry Collection at VivaTerra is all recycled, mostly from bottles and occasionally from other types of glass like antique drinking glasses or blown glass vessels that have gotten damaged and are now grist for my mill. Some is donated directly from customers and friends and some reclaimed from local bars and restaurants.