When Riki Schmacher began teaching with Artful Gathering, we saw the doors opening up on the horizon for so many new and exciting techniques in metal work. If you can envision that door with windows on it, letting the light shine through, that would be Riki Schumacher’s effect on a room filled with creative students! Our rooms are virtual, but the doors are just the same, the windows are as bright, and we have Riki all to ourselves for six whole weeks at a time. Riki teaches at live retreats too, and she carries a large measure of encouragement for her students wherever she goes. If you get a chance to take a workshop with her, you will learn a lot. Most of all, you will learn to let go of your fears.
Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
A. Riki Schumacher, mixed media jewelry artist and instructor. I am married, just celebrated my 25th anniversary, and am a dog lover and owner. We have Maddie the Havanese, who is five this year. I have been making jewelry since about 1996, and started out beading, then learned to carve wax for the lost wax method. Then moved on to working in wire and mixed metals.
Q. How do you like to work?
A. I collect items, gathered from all over the nation, and occasionally flea markets in France. I like to mix metals and found objects together, most often using cold connections (no solder) mixed with some soldering as well. Designing for me is working pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle, always challenging, and always fun. You have to think how pieces will connect, like layering, drilling, attachments and what kind, it keeps the brain working!
Q. What role does metal work have in society today?
A. I think metal work today, as far as fashion, is still an expression of our current day’s issues and feelings. I see jewelry being used to display the wearer’s psyche, current trends, fashion, political issues and many more things. People wear jewelry to be subtle, or make a statement, and reflect their passions and moods. It has been so interesting to see the variety of likes and dislikes from each and every individual I come into contact with, whether a customer or a student. I work hard at keeping in mind that it is important for me to stay true to what I like to design, and hope others will enjoy it as well.
Q. What inspired you to begin working with metal and jewelry?
A. I retired early from a corporate, high stress job thank goodness. I had the opportunity to return to my passion of art, and loved jewelry. So I began researching artists and instructors work and found people I wanted to study with. This lead me on an amazing journey, finding like minded people I was missing in my life. I had never had the opportunity to hang out or share play time with other artists. It changed my life.
Q. Where do you most enjoy creating and working?
A. I am lucky enough to have two homes at this time. I enjoy creating in workshops at both locations. Each is a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, allowing me to pull items together and design, or brain storm about future workshops I want to teach and make prototypes. When that creativity stops, it’s out on a walk to visit the woods, the beach, the open spaces wherever I am.
Q. What do you like about your work?
A. I like seeing found objects being repurposed. I like bringing an assortment of items together to serve a purpose once again, being shown off in a proud manner by the wearer. I love incorporating vintage, French anything and neutrals. And most of all, the reward is having happy customers and thrilled students.
Q. What do you most enjoy about teaching?
A. Giving back! I had so many amazing instructors, and a few where I learned how not to do some things. All the workshops I have taken have helped me formulate my road map, and it has been so much fun to be on this journey. How lucky can a girl get to be happy, healthy AND get to do what she wants to do in life, a couple of times? I had a fantastic work career, and now in this life, where I get to bring enlightenment and instruction to ladies, who just like me back when, want to learn how to express their feelings through art, both for joy and financial reasons.
Q. How do you get into the mood to be creative?
A. This is an easy one for me! You either have your mojo working at that moment, or you don’t. I have done plenty of staring at the walls, and finally one year realized, ah ha, I need to walk away at this moment and stop forcing. I really don’t think you can force creativity. I can be watching TV with my husband, standing in the shower, almost anywhere when I am relaxed and boom, in comes another idea. If I don’t have the time or not in the right place to act on it, I draw it or write it down. Then I have formulated a plan, which make it much easier to design when I can get to it.
Q. What advice would you give to those who may wish to begin the metal work journey?
A. I liked the path I took, take workshops! Research who’s work and techniques you like, then get to a workshop with them. Learn as much as you can, because that opens up your options to create. Don’t limit yourself from fear, like being afraid to try soldering because you have never worked with a torch. I hadn’t, almost no ladies have ever held a torch, but that can’t stop you from learning how. Or using a jeweler’s saw, it is something you have to learn how to operate, we aren’t born knowing how! But learning to use tools and techniques just open up your world, and isn’t that what you want? If metal interests you, don’t limit yourself to beading! If I could learn how, anyone can. It takes practice over and over, you can’t do something just one time and expect it to look like your instructors, or be able to teach it after one class. Remember learning to ride a bike, same thing! Take a class with me, I love teaching newbies! I remember how terrifying it is to start out, but it gets easier and easier as you practice.
From simple soldering to intricate work in wire, riveting, metal sculpting and more, Riki teaches us that we can do anything we set our minds to. If you haven’t taken the leap into learning how to create with mixed medal, Riki’s encouragement, her can-do attitude on life and creativity, it all comes full circle and you just might find a whole new door opening up to you in your own creative life!
Start learning today:
Riki’s Artisan Workshops available now DVD include, Romantic Relic Frames, Overcoming the Fear of Fire, Sweet Tweets, Whimsical Teensies, Stackable Boho Bangles, Downton Heirloom Cuff Bracelets.
You can learn more about Riki by visiting her blog, www.rikijewelry.blogspot.com