Today Artist Strong is pleased to welcome Enas Abdallah, an educator and jewelry designer.
Carrie: Welcome Enas to Artist Strong! Let’s jump right in as I know AT readers will be interested in your story. How did you get started in jewelry design?
Enas: I officially began beading summer of 2009 or 2010 when I was spending the holiday in Dubai and feeling the need to be creative. I asked my mom about what she had done with my dowry. (In the Arab world parents start preparing for the daughter’s wedding at an early age and purchase pieces for their dowries). A while ago she bought hundreds of freshwater pearl strings. she showed them to me and said she would like to get set for me when I get married. I laughed the idea off. So that summer in Dubai, I finally said to my mom that I am never going to get married, why doesn’t she simply give me my dowry so I can do something with it. At first she asked me to rather sell them and keep the money. I explained they won’t bring much but if I created jewellery out of them, maybe I had a better chance. Nonetheless, the idea of a business was really vague in my mind. I wouldn’t know where to start; I just wanted to be creative that summer.
Carrie: Can you share how your business developed?
Carrie: How do you make time for your art?
Carrie: Who has inspired your work?
Carrie: Does your process involve a set routine? How does creative process work for you?
Enas: When I began, I designed all the time. But I was one who always designed as I created. I do not sketch my work before hand like Azza Fahmy does. I go right into the piece. Sometimes I have an idea of what styles I want to make. Sometimes, I sit at my table inspired to create but I am clueless of what I will make.
Now my routine incorporates running the workshops, this keeps me grounded from losing my sense of creativity in a very busy teaching year. It gives me a structure. And my investment in this type of art, emotionally and financially, has not gone astray. I also create pieces for friends’ birthdays and Christmas gifts. I no longer buy jewelry, I make jewelry, and I am proud of how I have taught myself to follow my inspiration and creative dream.
Carrie: How do you know when a piece is completely finished?
Enas: Even though I do not sketch my pieces before hand, I do in a sense lay out my beads and silver before I make the piece. So I guess, in a way I do “sketch”. This helps me prior to beading, to know how the piece will look in the end. Many a time, I had to take pieces or half pieces apart because I did not consider how many inches or count how many beads should go on either side of a bracelet or necklace, etc. So now I try to sort out the piece before to know how it will look in the end.
Carrie: What piece are you most proud of and why?
Enas: I love my 7 string “dowry” pearl bracelet. It’s my signiture piece. And it evolved into being made by other precious stones. This took me a while to do. It takes a few hours, sometimes days. It’s delicate, elegant and beautiful. It became a hit with a lot of buyers and I am proud of that.
Carrie: Is there anything you wish you knew when you started out?
Enas: I wish someone told me where all the whole sale beading and silver stores are. But I also believe part of the adventure of evolving into an artist, a jewelry designer (I am not sure if i am comfortable calling myself so yet) is finding all of the places where one’s material comes from. I wish I took a jewelry making class (still wish to do this, as I want, at this point, to put my calligraphy into practice and learn how to create pieces on silver and gold).
Carrie: What advice do you have for creatives like yourself?
Enas: Follow your dreams. Despite the fact that any form of art can sometime be financially straining, one has to start somewhere. I honestly began very small, but what helped is persistence, patience and perseverance (the three Ps I live by). And get feedback, from friends, family, anyone. It inspires you more. My mom was so skeptical at the onset of my creativity, now she does not stop asking me about what new piece I have designed. She already owns a huge collection of my favorite pieces.
Carrie: Where do you hope to be one year from now?
Enas: I want to move on to the next phase. I want this art to truly find its fruition. I want to create or have someone create a proper website for me. I am in the process of designing my own business card. And to set up an online business. I am an artist. I am not a business person and so I need a business partner who will teach me to put an honest price on my work.
I also want to showcase in a gallery. I want to take jewelry making classes and see what other creative people do. There is so much to learn.
Carrie: How do you define creativity?
Enas: Creativity is pure inspiration for me. It’s to be alive, to truly breathe.
A Special thank you to Enas for taking the time to talk with Artist Strong!
ARTIST THINK ACTION: What is one small step you can take towards realizing your creative business?