Interview #1: Ellygator

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Hello everyone,

With out very first interview, we wanted to kick things off, for a grand start. A talented female artist, Ellygator. Her art mainly consists of the popular book and movie series, Harry Potter, mixed with a large line of jewellery and stained-glass and other kinds of paintings.
Ellygator agreed to an interview back in March, but due to some issues, the staff members weren't able to access the profile. the reply to the questions, via note, were replied to on May 1st.

"Thanks so much for this list of really pertinent and insightful questions. I hope my answers cover what you were looking for, and if you need to abridge some of it because of length, please feel free to do so.

all the best,

The first and one of the most important questions; how did you learn to draw with such skill?

My Mum was an art teacher at school for many years, and while a lot of parents encourage their kids to draw pictures, she really took that kind of encouragement to the next level offering a lot of support, inspiration and materials for different techniques to keep me interested and help me develop. Thinking back, I learned watercolor painting from her, drawing, silk-painting, stained-glass making, embroidery, she got me clay for sculpting and even booked time at a communcal kiln to burn and help me glaze my miserable first attempts. She had my pictures framed (even the bad ones) and hung them all over our home.
So while a lot of kids eventually stop drawing, to me it became a very natural process to do something creative of one sort or another. And it made it easier for me to teach myself new techniques later, like beading, jewelry making, working with pastels and lampwork. I guess I always had this message from her that I could do anything that I put my mind to in the way of art, and I am deeply grateful to her for that kind of confidence she inspired.

Do you use any "special" things, to help you with your artwork? (special pencils, paper, etc..)

I'm not really finicky about materials seeing that most times you are more limited by your own skill than by the limitations of the materials you use. That said, I am not encouraging anyone to put up with sub-par products that will disintegrate or make the creative process more cumbersome than it needs to be. But in a pinch I have seen good people do more with a ball-point pen on some notebook paper than others with the most expensive artist colors money can buy.
For my drawings I use Strathmore drawing paper that's available in most US art and craft stores and Kimberly HB and B2 or B3 pencils. I don't use stubs and don't blend but leave each stroke as it stands on the paper. I like the harsher, sharper textures you achive that way.
For my beadwork I am pretty much hooked on Miuki Delica and size 15 seed beads. Again they are of a good and uniform quality and widely available in a dazzling number of colors and textures.
My art glass beads are made from Italian Moretti glass which has a lower melting point than Borosilicate glass. In this case I am definitely not going with the best that's possible, because boro has way more colors and is more resilient as well. However, you also need a torch with a separate oxygen feed and oxygen tanks, and my husband is already concerned that one day I'll blow up the garage…
My silver pieces are made from Silver Art Clay, I have not used Precious Metal Clay which is the competition product, but this was not a conscious choice it was merely a matter of finding a supplier website…
And finally I always keep my eyes open for something new and unusual. As I get to travel a lot for business I google bead stores in every city I get to visit, and I often manage to pick up something new and exciting. The fact that I probably won't be able to get it again or anywhere else only adds to the challenge.

How do you get inspired to do jewellery and drawings?

I actually studied history of art for many years at university and at some point in my life was quite serious about becoming maybe a lecturer or a curator in a museum. This has left me with a wonderfully stored mind regarding compositions, iconography and imagery. My main area of interest is 19th century art from the English Pre-raphaelites (you can probably tell from the painfully labored detailed backgrounds and my obsession with textures) to continental Art Nouveau (mostly for my silver jewelry), but I also love tribal and ethnic art, particularly from the south Pacific and any kind of patterns and ornamentation. I still remember standing in the corridor at a client site about a year ago where we were doing some IT consulting and taking one of our meeting breaks to do a quick sketch of a pattern on a Southwest Indian rug that hung in a frame outside the meeting room. I got a lot of baffled stares from everyone, but I developed a cool bead pattern out of it...
The best I can suggest is to keep ones eyes open at all times. Maybe the next time it's a flower shape that arrests your attention, or the colors and life in a tide-pool, some carving on a historical building front, or a pattern on a wall-paper.

You have so many Harry Potter-inspired pieces, and many of them are commissions and such. But for the ones that aren't commissions; why Harry Potter?

Actually I was determined at one point to cultivate snobbish disregard for the whole phenomenon. That was about at the time book two had come out. My younger sister was a rabid fan and I just thought she was silly. Still she faithfully sent me copies of all the three volumes as books on tape and they collected dust on my shelf. And then fate intervened when I decided to have my life-long nearsightedness fixed and have a lasik procedure on my eyes. They put me on the table first thing in the morning and then had my husband drive me home while I was under strict orders to stay in bed in a darkened room and wear something like swimming goggles over my eyes for 24 hours. Booooring! I guess I got so antsy, my husband eventually put a tape recorder next to our bed and popped in my sister's tapes. I had nowhere else to go, so I listened, and it was simply magical!
After that I was definitely a confirmed fan, though my most favorite and fascinating character at the time was Severus Snape - and from a perspecive of the books he still is. Then the movies happened, and the moment I saw Jason Isaacs sashay onto the scene as Lucius Malfoy I was done for…
Overall I would have to say while I like the whole story-line over the sequence of the books, I am not that interested in the fates of the children characters or even in the final showdown with Voldemort. My fascination with the books has to do with the incredible imagination JKR has lavished on even the smallest details, the kind of vignettes that show how much she has immersed herself in the "reality" of a world that is entirely fictional, to come up with something like the Marauders Map insulting Snape, the witch at St. Mungo's with a tangerine stuck up her nose, Sir Nick being denied membership in the Headless Hunt because of a technical glitch, the demented Lockhart still intent on giving authographs… I just love that kind of attention to the craft, the sense of humor behind it. I also like the erudition that has gone into the stories, the references to alchemy, astrology and high magick that show knowledge of and sympathy with the subject.
So I read more within the gaps of the story, the things that are not said, I focus on the minor characters, the behind-the-scenes happenings, the grey areas. The pages and pages of Harry snogging Cho or Ron snogging Lavender or Hermione throwing hissy fits about it all really leave me cold.

When did you start making jewellery?

My jewelry making started with a gift of a thin paperback on beading techniques that I got when I was about 16 or 17. I can't remember who gave it to me, and I don't even have it any more either, but it was very clear and detailed on all of the basics from netting to weaving to Peyote and brick stitch. At the time (over 20 years ago) it was virtually impossible to get any kind of good quality beads, at least in my home country of Germany. Most of them were 11 size delicas in a few primary opaque colors and of very uneven sizes. I still remember my first encounter with a real bead store, which was "Beadworks" in London during a class trip. The store used to be in Neal Street then, and is now just off Seven Dials. I blew my entire amount of pocket money on beads and begged and borrowed off class-mates to be able to buy more. It was crazy!
After many years of beadmaking I branched out into maille about 4 years ago, then added lampwork beads after taking a class on it at a store in Dallas about two years ago, and my latest discovery is silver art clay. I love how I can combine the techniques to make something unique that is all hand-made, such as a silver clay pendant with my own glass beads and a maille chain fixed to it. The only components I need to buy these days are cut gemstone beads and the odd silver finding. I like that complete control over my final product that I am getting that way.

How many commissions would you say you sell every month? and how much do you take for one piece?

I didn't do commission work for the longest time, just presents for family and friends. My commissions really have only taken off over the last year or so through DA and my etsy store. At the moment I work on about 2 or three drawings every month and one or two jewelry pieces. My pricing is more reflective of the time and labor and unique design that goes into my creations rather than of the materials (only silver art clay is an exception as it is very expensive). Drawings will go for anything between $50 and $90 depending on number of characters and amount of detail, bead jewelry between $90 and $200, and silver art clay from $100 to $350. I would say that overall I'm not really making a profit on my stuff, it's more a case of finally breaking even on my hobby. Now I can just go and splurge on a batch of silver clay or a beautiful gemstone strand without turning over my pennies, because I'm no longer spending household dollars.

How long does it take to finish one piece?

My beadwork wing bracelets take between 20 to 25 hours, some of the more elaborate pieces anywhere up to 50 hours, a drawing will take 8 to 10 hours, and a set of art glass beads you can whip up in an afternoon. With both art glass and silver clay you have some waiting time as well, because the glass beads need to be annealed before you can work them into a finished necklace, and the silver clay needs to thoroughly cure before firing, so there are a lot of starts and stops.

Do you get many commissions for jewellery?

Jewelry has picked up recently, I am happy to say. People seem to like the beadwork based on the brick stitch fan pattern, and there are quite a few inquiries about the silver art clay and the art glass beads. At the moment I am not turning anyone down, but I may have to delay some folks in the future if this trend continues. I had never expected any of this!

Which materials do you mainly use in your jewellery?

For my beadwork I am using delica beads and size 15 seed beads (so glad I got that lasik…) and as a thread either fireline (fine but very durable fishing line) for the strung projects, and transparent polyester thread for the stitched and woven pieces. I have never got friendly with beading silk. I buy all my beads over the internet these days.
For my maille I use half-hard sterling silver wire in various gauges. I make my own rings using knitting needles for mandrels. I buy my wire over the internet having found a reliable supplier.
My art glass of choice is Moretti glass that I get from a local dealer. I like to inspect the rods and their colors for real as there is quite a bit of variation even in the same color category.
My silver art clay I also get over the internet, but I may look into Precious Metal Clay at some point, too, just to get a feel for the differences between the two products.

And last.. aside from art and the dA community; what do you really enjoy doing?

I love reading, though I've shifted my focus from reading mainly fiction to more non-fiction books, especially on philosophy, art, science, ancient history (Egypt, Greece, Rome) and on the occult (High Magick, Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Crowley, Golden Dawn and Kabbalah).
When I can I try and get to the outdoors for hiking, biking and camping - Dallas is a bad place for this, as you can do few things besides drive places in your car, and when you're there either shop or eat. There are a few artificial lakes and small hiking routes, but overall the place is rather disappointing. At the least you need a friend who owns a boat... As a default I will at least hang out in the yard, do some gardening and swim in our pool.
I also enjoy cooking. I travel a lot for business and it's always pre-prepared meals, cafeteria junk-food and your usual hotel staple diet of chicken wings, caesar salad, pasta Alfredo and steak. So when I'm home I'll cook German recipes from home, English food like Yorkshire pudding for my husband, or Indian food which we both love!
And finally I did Kendo for many years, loving the work-out as much as the aesthetics, the philosophy and the discipline behind the practice, but I haven't found a dojo in Dallas yet - also I'd never be there to practice, being on the road too much. Still, I miss it.

Thank you, Elly, for kicking thisjournal, and club off.

**Note: Don't forget to read, the main DAInterviewers journal (… )
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velvetsnape's avatar
You are simply fantastisch, Elly! Ausgezeichnete Arbeit!
mrs-jessicat's avatar
really interestning interview :)
Dashkova's avatar
Elly is amazing. Love her work and she's such an interesting person.
Great interview. I love her work and am fascinated by her discipline and attention to minute detail.
FabF's avatar
Elly=talent !
jessa1155's avatar
This is a wonderful article! We've been fans of Elly's jewelry and drawings from the first time we saw her work on DA:)
c-urchin's avatar
Fantastic interview Elly :D I've loved reading about your inspirations and influences :)
padfootsgurl8179's avatar
Proud to say I was a fan long before this interview. Good choice for a first one.
lyanyne's avatar
Thank you for featuring Elly as your first interview! As a fan of hers, and a friend, I was very pleased to see that you had recognized her genius! The questions were intelligent, and ones that were quite interesting to learn the answers to. Keep up the good work!
SerenaVerdeArt's avatar
That's a wonderful interview, and beeing a great fan of Elly, I'm just too happy to know she's the one you interviewed first!
Great work!
ElkStarRanchArtwork's avatar
what a great article! I am one of elly's commissioners and it's great to see you interview her! :clap:!
Zethara's avatar
What a wonderful first interview! :clap:
ohnojaylo's avatar
This would be nice as a news article.
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