Often inspired by nature and the natural beauty of aging objects, Debbie Zapatka of ‘The Spirit Box’ creates her art objects by melding nature and metal together into distinctively organic, one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art.
Debbie’s home studio located in sunny Arizona and she has a degree in Design and Illustration; however she is self-taught in painting, jewelry making and other crafts by means of trial and error.
1) Pink Leaf Designs: When did you first know you wanted to be a Jewelry Designer, and what are your inspirations?
Debbie Zapatka: I have been creating art for as long as I can remember. I started my art journey as a painter, but I had a longing for creating 3-dimensional pieces. I took a metal sculpting class at the Evanston Art Center, just north of Chicago and fell in love with the process. When I moved to Arizona I envisioned having a studio space where I could work outside on my metal sculptures, but I soon discovered that would not happen living in a community with an HOA. Ha, ha. So, I had to go smaller with my work and that’s when I started making metal jewelry. I have always been inspired by nature and the natural beauty of aging objects. My goal is always to have my work reflect that by melding nature, metal and other objects together into a organic piece of art.
2) Pink Leaf Designs: If the sky’s the limit, what piece of jewelry would you create now?
Debbie Zapatka: I’m not sure that it would be a piece a jewelry. Perhaps something that combines my metal work with my painting. I would like to work on something large-scale again. Maybe something that is showcased in a gallery or part of a store environment.
3) PLD: Name a place/ a thing/ a person usually inspires your work?
DZ: The Southwest is a huge inspiration for me. Red rocks, unusual landscape, copper mines and turquoise. Love turquoise! The person who has the biggest influence on my jewelry making is Susan Lenart Kazmer. She is an amazing designer and loves to share her knowledge with others. I feel lucky to have taken one of her workshops at the same time I was searching for new direction in my own work.
4) PLD: What LIVE celebrity would you like to send a piece of your jewelry for FREE?
DZ: I sent a piece to Jennifer Westhoven at CNN with her babies name on it, but I have yet to see her wear it. I wish I would of sent a piece to Oprah while her show was on-the-air. How amazing would that be?
5) PLD: If you have your way, what famous and successful Jewelry Designers/ company/ brands would you like to be?
DZ: Island Cowgirl. I love her jewelry and she seems to have a successful storefront by the beach. Sounds perfect to me!
6) PLD: You get stuck designing today, what do you do to get unstuck?
DZ: I like to look thru my boxes of found objects, what most people might call “junk”, but which I find interesting and inspiring by the different shapes, textures or colors. Then I figure out how to make something new out of it. I also find that exercise helps unblock my mind.
7) PLD: Which music CD are you listening now?
DZ: I always have Radio Paradise on, everyday from 8am til bedtime. Bill & Rebecca Goldsmith run this internet radio station out of their house. Sometimes you hear their dog bark or the phone ring in the background. I love supporting a small business, such as theirs, and they play a wonderful blend of many styles and genres of music. You’ll hear modern and classic rock, world music, electronica, even a bit of classical and jazz. What you won’t hear are commercials. None!
8) PLD: Which piece of jewelry at your store is your most favorite and why?
DZ: I have to say it would be my Metal Bouquet. I hand cut the metal and sculpt it into forms and shapes to represent a vase of flowers. Then I enamel each piece. To me, it’s more than a piece of jewelry, it becomes a one-of-a-kind piece of wearable art.
9) PLD: What advise would you give to other jewelry designer newbies who wants to set up a new business store (online & off-line) during this difficult economic climate?
DZ: Self-promoting is really hard, but networking and social media has made that so much easier. I find that my friends and clients promote my work almost as much as I do and you can’t ask for better advertising than that!
10) PLD: What is in your tool box?
DZ: My must have (purchased) items are my Foredom flex shaft for drilling, hammer, propane torch, liver of sulfur, resin, enamel powders, and pliers. By my priceless tool box is my collection of recycled metals, seed pods, and found objects. I love to upcycle!
Source: ‘The Spirit Box’