Ruth Avra’s jewelry is featured on our site in a separate post. Ruth was also kind enough to answer questions about her journey as a jewelry artisan, and life as an artist and mother.
CC: Tell us about your family. Significant other? Children’s names and ages?
RA: My husband, John, and I have two little monkies. Calder (boy) is five years old, and my daughter Avalon is three years old.
CC: Where are you currently located (city / state / country)?
RA: Currently living and working in Sarasota, FL.
CC: Tell us about your work space. Do you create items in your home? A separate studio?
RA: My workshop had always been a bedroom in my home, but since our move to Sarasota we were lucky enough to find a home with a dedicated outbuilding to use as my jewelry studio. It’s not huge, but it’s a perfect fit for my needs. It has AC and full ventilation, and is my own little private creative oasis!
CC: What is your best time of day to get work done?
RA: Mornings! I am my most productive after my kids are in school and my coffee cup is empty!
CC: Anything special about your business name?
RA: It’s my name!
CC: How long have you been in business as an artisan? Making mama metal?
RA: I have been making jewelry since I was a kid, selling since I was 10, went to college for metalsmithing, and had my own official business since 2003. I have been making keepsakes for parents since 2012 but only started making Mama Metal in 2015.
CC: What drew you to enter this field of work?
RA: I have always loved art in all forms, but anything 2D looked better in my head than on paper/canvas. With 3D, especially metalworking, I could always match the beauty of what was in my head, and that always made me so happy.
CC: How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?
RA: Previously (before having kids of my own) I made art jewelry with a modern edge. Since I make everything myself and nothing is mass produced, I work within the “craft” category. But my work was never really a great fit, a bit too fashion forward, my edge not quite understood by the craft crowd. It wasn’t until I had kids that I really found my current voice. Now, much of the jewelry I make is keepsakes for parents. From umbilical cord stumps to mama metal, I LOVE working on really unique custom projects. I am currently finishing up a feather-shaped cuff with an umbilical cord stump, I can’t wait to take pictures!
CC: What mediums do you work with?
RA: Mostly silver, some gold, some stones, some oddball things (umbilical cord stumps, baby hair, baby teeth, my husband’s kidney stones, etc).
CC: What inspires you in your creative work?
RA: A beautiful stone is always fantastic inspiration. Natural shapes and textures inspire me. Working one-on-one with a client to make a piece dedicated to an individual is always inspiring.
CC: What are you presently inspired by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
RA: I wish I had more time to read… Love my Prince station on Pandora; it’s what is always playing when I work. I have a stash of amazing things (stones, etc) that I have collected over the years. Whenever I am lacking inspiration I go through my cabinets to find treasures.
CC: How has your work / practice / design changed over time?
RA: I think my target audience has changed, and thanks to Facebook and other social media outlets, become so much more accessible. But perhaps they have just grown up a bit, as I have. I don’t know if my aesthetic has, I feel like my work has a similar vibe throughout my working years despite the work looking different and evolving.
CC: What kind of experience do you want a viewer or user of your art to walk away with?
RA: When creating very personal pieces I want my clients to feel comforted (as will their little ones when playing with the pieces). A keepsake is such an important piece, even if it’s simply a design or image that resonates with a client. I love the idea of comfort jewelry that looks stunning and tells a story.
CC: What risks have you taken in your work, and what has been at stake?
RA: I used to do shows (retail and wholesale) around the country. While doing those shows was a risk, stopping those shows all together in 2011 was also a great risk. But with the voice I have found online and how it connects me directly to my clients, it makes it all worth it in the end. I do finally feel comfortably successful in this venture. Mama Metal has opened up a whole new world for me.
CC: Fill in the blank: Motherhood is…
RA: The hardest and most rewarding challenge I have ever faced.
CC: How has being a mother changed you?
RA: It’s made me more appreciative of time, in so many different ways. Appreciative of alone time with my husband, quality time as a family, and those special fleeting moments that you’ll somehow remember forever.
CC: What is something your children have taught you?
RA: To slow down, to cherish each moment. To always stop and examine the bug or smell the flowers 🙂
CC: What do your kids do that makes you laugh?
RA: Too many things to list… When my 3-year old daughter says her full name “Avalon Jules DUFF”. She’s so proud, it always brings a smile to my face. My 5yo does the same in a different context. I tell him he’s a silly goose. He responds “No I not, I Calder Isaac Duff”. Yes that’s right kiddo! You are!
CC: What is one piece of advice on motherhood that has helped you?
RA: I don’t know if there is one piece that I can credit, I just do my best every day to be patient and loving. Both my kids flourish with positive reinforcement. So I do my best to focus on the good in every single day, no matter how hard the day was.