Tell me about yourself. Im Charlotte. You can call me Cha. I’m the artist behind Cha Metals handmade jewelry. Im a multifaceted artist working as a metalsmith, installation artist, graphic designer, and video producer.
How often do you work on your jewelry? All day, everyday when I can. As a small business owner, however, that is not possible very often. I spend a lot of time packaging, planning for events, taking inventory, accounting, replying to email, and managing my social media as well as on some freelance video and design projects. I usually commit a few days a week to hands on creating and a use the rest for the less fun parts.
What materials do you use? I strive to make Cha Metals a sustainable business with as small of an environmental impact as I can. For me; that means using repurposed metals and all natural stones. I often find or purchase obsolete brass machine pieces to incorporate into my designs. When possible; I cast with repurposed bronze, silver, and gold as well.
Most Cha Metals pieces are made of sterling silver and repurposed brass. When working with stones; I prefer natural, one of a kind gems like Fire Opal and Rutilated quartz.
What is your process? It depends on what I am working on. When planning pieces for my line; I usually just get out some materials for inspiration and play around for a bit putting them together in ways that feel right. From there It’s an organic process of creating and joining forms and pieces. On a designing day; I’ll end up with five to ten unique pieces. Sometimes I keep all ten in my line and sometimes I keep none. When I begin a commissioned piece, on the other hand, I like to sit down with my sketchpad and some music. Ill make a bunch of quick sketches and go back and forth with the client, refining and editing my sketches, until we are both happy and excited about the final design.
I have a home studio where I take all of pieces from design to completion. Everything necessary to create my pieces is in that studio, including two torches, a kiln, a centrifugal casting machine, a workbench, and a flex shaft. Unlike many jewelry artists that feature cast pieces in their line, I am fortunate enough to have casting equipment in my studio which means I can do all the casting myself instead of outsourcing it. The beauty of handcrafted jewelry is its individuality. One of the things that Makes Cha Metals jewelry so special is that all pieces are made from start to finish in my studio. Every process from casting to finishing is done by hand. This means that each piece is unique. Even when a design is reproduced 100 times; every iteration will vary slightly.
What inspires you? I am inspired by the beauty I find in places I don’t expect it. I call it the “anti-pretty”. Its the visual attraction you feel in something that does not fit the traditional concepts of prettiness and it is what the Cha Metals ascetic is all about.
Tell me about the creation of Cha Metals. I started Cha Metals in September 2016 after graduating with my BFA from the University of Georgia in August 2016 and facing the usual post grad panic. Id already been making and selling my jewelry for a few years so I knew that Cha Metals was something I really wanted to make happen and feared that if I put it off in favor a “real” 9-5 job I would keep putting it off forever and my dreams would die and id lose my soul etc. So I bit the bullet and committed to life as a starving artist/ small business owner for a while.
How do you promote your work? I sell from my online store at www.chametals.com and at various art shows and artisanal fairs (some of you may have seen me at indie south in Athens in December). I have an email subscription list that I send out info to. I am pretty active on my Instagram @chametals where I often show my entire process on my Instagram story. I also have a Cha Metals Facebook page that I should be better about updating but I have done a live casting on there before which was pretty fun. I hope to do more live Facebook videos in my studio in the future. A lot of my business also comes from word of mouth.
What are you goals with Cha Metals?
Just to see where it takes me and how far it can go. I would love to expand my studio maybe even hire some studio assistants and business managers so I don’t have to do it all alone. Seeing cha metals pieces in galleries and select shops around the country- and even world would be pretty amazing. All of that is still down the road. For now; Im happy just to enjoy the ride and learn as I go.
Follow Charolette on @chametals for more of her work.