Creative REuse Artist: Hydra Designs

I am having such a great time getting to know the eco-crafting community!  I get so inspired looking at beautiful creative reuse.  This week I would like to introduce you to an artist who reuses materials to make jewelry.  Nikki of Hydra Designs makes jewelry that, to me, stands out as a little whimsical and a little mythical.  I am a big fan of earrings and love what she has done with her collection.  Nikki was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

1.  Tell us your story…How did you get to where you are now as an artist?

I would say my inspiration to be an artist came from my mom. I’ve always wanted to draw since I was young, even under the age of five. My mom was always doing something creative, whether it was building and refinishing furniture, designing and sewing her own curtains, duvets,  pillows or oil painting.

I started taking art in my freshman year of high school and then was encouraged by my teachers to try out for the Gifted and Talented Art program. My mom’s always stated that I was a natural artist, and I admit I took to it like a duck takes to water. I’ve never thought there wasn’t anything I could do, and learned that with time you can master an aspect before delving into another. I also learned early on that you should never say something is impossible and that there’s always some one to teach you a new technique.

I went to a JC, was planning on attending the Academy of Arts here in San Francisco and ended up working as a visual merchandiser for quite quite a few years where all those handy odd skills I learned came in very useful.

I started making jewelry over a decade ago for myself when I couldn’t find anything I liked, then proceeded to give people things I was wearing because they admired them so much. About a year ago I was nagged into submission to finally start trying to sell my baubles.

2.  Why do you reuse material?

Working as a visual merchandiser, you were trained to look at everything as a component, and what it’s reuse factor was. Everything had to have more than one purpose, and from learning to fix antiques with my Mom, I started to look at old bits of broken jewelry as a component. Broken chains, singled faceted semi-precious stone earrings, broken strands of pearls, stones, everything became a resource to make more unique one of a kind items.

I’ve watched a lot of friends and family members gather bags of this kind of stuff to either toss into a landfill or Goodwill/Out of the Closet. It’s not that I don’t think Goodwill or Out of the Closet isn’t a good recipient – It’s just unfair to donate broken or single items that could never be sold. Better to be reused than in a landfill!

3.  How do you come up with ideas for creative reuse?

I usually spend an evening breaking things down. I look through boxes, sort through them and then bag them according to color or material. Then I pick one item and let inspiration run with me. With one piece of jewelry, I started with a broken sterling silver chain from the 50’s and it evolved into a pretty neat set of earrings. I suppose you’d call it a chain or flow of thought that I settle into and follow it to it’s completion.

4.  How does jewelry making influence your painting and vice versa?

I’ve learned from my painting and drawing, that when you start to get frustrated with the object, to set it aside. Give it a little time, come back to it and look at it from a different angle. Some times you get so far into a painting you can’t see the discrepancies.

As for jewelry influencing painting, it’s given me a better sense of space and detail.

5. What advice do you have for anyone interested in creatively reusing something?

Go for it! Artists have been doing it for hundreds of years, painting over older paintings, drawing influence from something broken and making it even more beautiful.

6.  What inspires your work?

Honestly enough, books and myths. I have ideas that come to me while watching movies, that sometimes never turn out to be exactly how I want them to be, but they’re beautiful anyways.

7.  Any favorite artists?

Jackson Pollack, Rennie Mackintosh and Gustav Klimt .. there’s a few jewelry artists I like, but I don’t have their names at hand.

8.  Where do you want to be in 5 years as an artist?

Honestly? To be just an artist full time and not part time.  I’d like to have my jewelry and paintings in boutiques and not juggle a job and my art.

To see more from this artist visit the following links:



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