Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Meet Oksana of SanaGem

We all love getting to know the people behind the work, what inspires them and what drives their business.  Today we hear from Oksana of SanaGem.

1. Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and what drew you to your chosen craft?
I am a 40 year old self employed person, running a small local shop where I sell my hand made gemstone jewelry, little gifts and souvenirs.  Since Dec 2012 I am a new etsian.
My personal gemstone collection started with mom's present - an amber pendant, continued with tiger eye beaded necklace (first stone I bought for myself).  Now I have 2 big boxes!
Lead by my love for natural stones, I bought jewelry for myself wherever I could, then found supply sources and tried myself at a new craft.  My serious jewelry making period in life may be counted from the 90s till now.

2: Who taught you how to do your craft, and how long have you been creating?
A creative line has always run in my family.  Both of my grandmothers used to crochet, sew, do cross stitch and even some home-weaving.  I picked up some crocheting basics from my granny.
My mom taught me to sew and knit.  Dad does anything from woodwork and gardening to radioelectronics.  He gave me all his tools and often gives technical advice.
Since my childhood I have always been making something: sewing doll clothes, drawing pictures, creating little gifts for friends.  It was a path of trying and learning from experience, now I regret not taking a serious art school at that time.
To think of jewelry, I remember making a crocheted pendant when I was in the 3rd grade - round little bag on a string with heart and arrow on one side and my initials on the other.  At that time I had no idea it was personalized jewelry :)  Another big project was made for my highschool prom - I took apart mom's Czech glass brooch, added ribbons, glass rondelles and ear wires and made "French Queen's Dangles" :)
I still learn from experience, never taken jewelry classes.  I want to learn more about metalwork and to use it in my craft.

3: How would you describe your style? Are there any crafters/artists/designers that you particularly look up to?
I love showing the natural beauty of gemstones, amber and pearls in my works.  Very often material dictates the style: bead shape, texture and weight tells you how to arrange a piece.  If I try some designs and like it, I develop a small line in different stones and colors.  I had periods of long multiple wrap necklaces, dangling earrings, cascade necklaces, chokers, certain types of earrings and bracelets.  I am still on my way to develop the style that everyone would recognize as my brand.

I would name a few people whose works I admire: Official website
Vladimir Levestam, designer of eco-friendly wooden jewelry, Crimea, Ukraine.  His site is international, you can view by item types and collections, read about the author etc. Russian blog-shop
Svetlana Voinskaya, Russian gemstone jewelry designer and author of the book "Create and Sell", a guide into the world of crafts and building small business out of hobbies.  Her blog is in Russian but you can scroll and view item pictures.

4: Where do you seek inspiration from?
My source of inspiration is the beautiful nature of Ukraine, color combinations coming from trees foliage, flowers and landscapes.  Biggest source of creative energy is the Black Sea and Crimea, though I live far away from it and only go there on vacations.
Another inspiration booster is hunting for beads and supplies.
I see them and start boiling with ideas how to use them.
I do not copycat other crafters and do not even look at others' works too much. Some ideas and trends are in the air and they get me inspired, but I always offer my own versions.

5: What are you focused on right now?
At the moment I am working on jewelry with natural wooden beads and fibers (cotton and linen) and want to make a small collection for summer.  I also want to try making things that look aged, use more brass and patina findings.  Yes, I know both are hot trends and I am just a follower, but there is always a way to bring individuality in the common stream.  I am presently taking a photography class and one in fabric painting - as a hobby and for self-development.

6: What are your can't-live-without craft-room essentials?
Picturing my craft area: a desk, shelves, many boxes of findings and beads on the floor, trays and cardboard chocolate box covers - each with a selection of beads soon-to-be-a-project (occupying window sills).  I work with my well tested and trusted tools (taken from dad). I have a notebook and pen handy to draw designs and patterns and take notes in the process.  Besides jewelry making, I always have some projects running for personal use - knitting, fabric painting, cross stitch pictures.  I often switch from one thing to another.

7: How do you combat creative blocks?
Sometimes I get nice materials and supplies with a feeling that they must turn into something beautiful...but days pass until I get the plan!  I just let it go, spread beads on a tray of chocolate box, have them in the open area to take a look often, and let the ideas settle in my head.  I switch to other hobbies for refreshment.  When I catch the inspiration I can spend a day and make 15-20 pieces, and in other days I just sit and stare.  May not sound like a good remedy financially, but I buy more new findings and beads and combine "old and new".  I also remake earlier pieces that happened to be unlucky and were not sold.

8: Why should people buy handmade?
First thing, would be good for people to learn crafts and MAKE things.  Ask about any nation in the world and you will hear: We are crafty, creative and hard working!  And it is true, we all have it in our genes and blood, each person has some talents.  Creating something is a way to express yourself and to heal your soul and mind.  In old times when people made things rather than bought, they cared more about making them last, keeping for the next generations, they used natural materials.  And now a toy passed to grandchildren or a piece of vintage clothing tells you more than history lessons at highschool and possesses the energy that a mass-made thing will never have.  Crafters themselves feel it the most.  A typical scene at craft shows and festivals is artists buying from each other or swapping their works.  This is WHY MAKE and not to fear the competition.
And WHY BUY - because there is always somebody else better at a certain kind of craft, there are real artists of the highest level of mastership.  It is a fantastic time when we can get closer to any person in the world, get to know cultures and unique national crafts, have different styles intertwining and influencing each other.  Handmade things and art work create what is called material culture, mass products DON'T.

9: Anything else you would like to share and where can we find you?
You can find Oksana and her wonderful makes at:
Social media updates will be added to my etsy profile.

I would like to thank Oksana for taking the time to write this wonderful interview and give us an insight into her world!
Clare Martin - DreamDifferently


  1. A wonderful interview Oksana and Jennifer! Oksana, your designs are lovely! Thank you for sharing your creative world with us.

  2. Congrats, Oksana! Great feature!

  3. Continued success, Oksana! Nicely done, Clare :)

  4. Loved the interview and seeing Oksana's work. Thanks for sharing with us Clare!

  5. Fabulous! I love getting to know artists better! I look forward to new work from Oksana and watching her business develop!

  6. Thank you so much for your nice words and for all support and encouragement, my dear fellow etsians!

    This is my Google account with my full name and a picture of my cat :)
    Oksana OOOXXX

  7. Great interview! Love the pieces featured as well.