Seller Spotlight: Catherine of Shadow Dog Designs

Catherine runs Shadow Dog Design on ArtFire crafting and selling handmade jewelry:

I create unique, mostly one-of-a-kind jewelry using mainly semi-precious stones and sterling silver. But I also love to integrate bone, copper, brass, polymer clay, lampwork and many other different non-stone components in my work. I have fun doing what I love!

I am a self-professed science and nature geek. When I am not doing things related to my ArtFire shop, you can quite often find me lying on my stomach in the grass looking at an insect, with binoculars in hand watching birds in the arroyo behind our house, or hiking with our Shadow Puppy, Seamus, and picking up about every sparkly, interesting rock I see.

My Masters is in Science Education and I taught science and math for 12 years in Texas, but because of my husband’s job, we began to move every couple of years. Right now, we are living in El Paso, Texas, fondly called “Last Texas” because it’s almost as far west as you can get.

My business was named Shadow Dog Designs almost 13 years ago to honor Chase and Loki, the two rescue dogs my husband and I had the privilege of sharing a life with. The Shadow Dogs followed me everywhere; naming the business after them seemed the most logical choice. I am an ardent supporter of adopting dogs from shelters and donate a percentage of my total sales to the local Humane Society.

I try to create jewelry that is like a dear friend, pieces that you will reach for over and over again and enjoy each time they are worn. Nature is always a huge inspiration; I revel in the colors, shapes and textures that I see all around me. And I love to incorporate other artists’ work into my creations, whether it’s polymer clay, lampwork, ceramic, stamped metal or PMC pieces.

Sometimes when I am out shopping for stones or other components to add to my already hefty stash, I instantly see a design and can’t wait to get home to make that piece of jewelry. I’ll collect my supplies, sit down and make it without many deviations from what flashed in my mind. Other times, I might play with the stones for hours or even days, stringing and re-stringing, adding and taking off and re-arranging, until the Muses tell me it’s done. Even though I keep up with current trends, I definitely create what is right for me.

The journey of making jewelry seems to have started from an early age. I have a long love affair with stones. As a kid, I was always picking up stones to put into my treasure box. (To tell the truth, I still do that!) If I found stones with holes in them, I would tie them on fishing line or string and give them to friends.

When visiting during the summer and holidays, my Grandmother always had necklaces for me to re-string. I remember spending many happy afternoons with her wonderful old beads. In college, I created simple leather chokers strung with African trade beads and sold them for a little extra spending money. It wasn’t until much later, however, that I became hopelessly addicted to the whole process.

A friend and I walked into a newly-opened bead shop in Warrenton, Virginia, and were dazzled by the possibilities: there was a whole wall of amazing gemstones waiting for me! My friend and I signed up for a basic jewelry-making class before we left the shop that day, and I took other classes over the course of several years. The shop owners, Norma and Nick, are very supportive and gave me invaluable advice when I first started selling my jewels at shows and in galleries.

Besides taking classes, I read a lot and browse the internet to learn new techniques and keep up with the newest stones. Going to gem and mineral shows is also invaluable – I love hanging out and talking with the vendors. I also like to study about stones, their geological formation, their history through the ages, and so on. Right now, I am re-reading a book by Victoria Finlay called “Jewels:  A Secret History” – it’s absolutely fascinating!

One of the bedrooms in the house we’re renting became my studio, and I spend a lot of time creating and looking out over the amazingly colored desert and the mountains beyond over into Mexico. The play of light over the land is such an inspiration and it is definitely showing up in my jewelry designs.

Mother Nature is my biggest inspiration, but sometimes the Muses go on vacation and I hit a creative block. During those times, I can’t push a design, or else I invariably end up taking it apart. To help boost me over that, I load Seamus into the Dog Mobile, drive out to a hiking trail and just look at and breathe in and feel what’s around me.

The desert is subtle in its absolute beauty and something always triggers an idea and the need to create. After coming back from the Australian Outback, most of what I designed for months after was inspired by the trip, stones of a rich earthy red color that mimicked the soil of the Red Centre.

A few years ago, I was visiting one of my favorite bead stores, one of those comfortable places where you could hang out, talk and create. It was a slow day, and the lady who worked there asked me if I had heard about a new venue that was going to be launched, a site called ArtFire.

Even though I was selling jewelry then, doing anything online wasn’t yet in the cards. In early 2010, after being hounded by friends to open a shop on a different online marketplace, I did — and felt totally lost and unhappy there. After months, I had only sold one piece to a friend who I think took pity on me. I remembered ArtFire, did some research, and really liked what I read about. I listed my first necklace on October 2, 2010.

From the very beginning I felt extremely comfortable, felt a sense of community and started making artist friends right away. even though I have a shop on a few other online venues, ArtFire is definitely my online jewelry-selling home.

 

I have a hard time looking years into the future. Because of my husband’s job, we move often. I have enjoyed everywhere we have lived, have made good friends and have great customers who keep in touch with me. With an ArtFire shop, there is more of a sense of continuity instead of having to basically start my business from scratch with each move.

One big thing on my To Do list for 2013 is to take a basic silversmithing class. I hope in a year or so to start offering bracelets, rings and earrings set with gemstones, along with the jewelry I so love to make. I know my jewelry and means of selling will evolve, but who knows how?

I have two short and sweet pieces of advice, given to me when I was first starting out. The first is, “Make what you feel.” And the second is, “Do NOT undersell your jewels.” I think both of those are invaluable, and have followed them as best as I can from Day One.

Catherine has up-to-date announcements and other goings on at Shadow Dog Design’s official blog. You can also find Catherine on Facebook here.

 

Items from Catherine’s Shop: Shadow Dog Design

Tree of Life Pendant Citrine Pearls Gemstone Necklace Handmade OOAK

Tree of Life Pendant Citrine Necklace

Rustic Horse Pendant Jasper Pearls Handmade Necklace Jewelry 2 Strand

Rustic Horse Pendant Jasper Handmade

Handmade Earrings Carved Bone Diamond Cross Garnet Ethnic OOAK Jewelry

Handmade Earrings Carved Bone Cross

Chunky Copal Turquoise Handmade Necklace Beaded OOAK Jewelry Summer

Chunky Copal Turquoise Handmade Necklace

Handmade Bracelet Purple Recycled Glass Sea Sediment Jasper Jewelry

Handmade Bracelet Purple Recycled Glass

Comments

  1. Lisa B. says:

    So truly delighted that Catherine was chosen as a spotlight artist. Love her work and proud owner of some of it ;). What a wonderful soul on this Earth ;)

  2. Elaine says:

    It is nice to see the face with the name after talking on email and facebook for about 2 years now.
    And you have a ansome big boy now.
    also your tableto work on is clean LOL….
    Love the story
    :O)

  3. This is such an honor! Thank you so much to whoever nominated me and to ArtFire for this wonderful opportunity! Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  4. designsbyskt says:

    I enjoyed reading your bio and love the picture of you and your beautiful dog. I too have adopted several dogs and like to hear about it when other people adopt. I’m new to Artfire, infact just joined today. Thanks for telling us about yourself and your jewelry!

    Sharon @ designsbyskt

  5. Gina Crane says:

    I really really enjoyed your blog! I could “FEEL” all the places,stones,and rocks you were talking about. I too have moved a lot,and I enjoy every place I go, especially being out in nature. I know exactly what your talking about. I am a avid rock collector, and look for rocks wherever I go.
    I looked at your shop and I love your creations~!

    Gina

  6. Wonderful article. I’ve been a fan and friend of Catherine’s for awhile now. It’s great to read more about her. :)

  7. Congratulations on this wonderful feature, Catherine!

    What a treat it was to put your lovely smiling face with a name after all this time. I’m so happy to see you and your beautiful jewelry getting the recognition that both so richly deserve.

    Once again, congrats!

  8. Congrats Catherine! I agree with Dawn that its great to put a face to someone I’ve had such great conversations with. I’m so happy for you and you have truly earned the ‘spotlight’ that’s on you.
    Beautiful pic of you and your puppy.
    Happy day to you!

  9. Julie and Blu says:

    Well, this is a wonderful thing! Congrats to you and Seamus. :) So very happy to see your profile here. May you be blessed in all your endeavors.

    Julie and Blu

  10. Cinders says:

    Catherine’s art is as wonderful as she is. It is really great to see your face and hear your story. Congratulations on the wonderful feature.

  11. Smitty says:

    Great story and wonderful insights into a talented artist.

  12. Lisa says:

    So excited to see Catherine chosen as the Artfire Spotlight Artist. A truly well-deserved honor. Congratulations and what a wonderful, well written article giving us so much insight to your craft, your inspirations and well, just you. I am so glad we met on Artfire :)
    Lisa

  13. PrettyGonzo says:

    What a perfect choice for the AF Spotlight! Catherine is such a fantastic jewelry artist and a wonderful member of the ArtFire community.

    My glass is raised to you, Catherine! Cheers, and major congratulations! Gonzo wishes lots of celebration treats for Seamus. :)

  14. Lynn Reno says:

    What a read from a awesome handcrafted jewelry artisan! Catherine really is a natural and it was so great to read about where her beginnings and inspirations came from. I do see her love of nature in the semi-precious stones she uses, it really does come through in her beautiful jewelry.
    Lynn

  15. Cassandra says:

    Wonderful spotlight on you and your business. Nicely written. I will be sharing my friend!

  16. Regina says:

    A beautiful story about a beautiful friend. I miss you! Happy Thanksgiving every day.

  17. Ewenique says:

    I enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Catherine, the gal behind Shadow Dog Design. Such unique pieces of jewelry! I can see how the beauty of desert and mountains is an inspiration to create.

  18. Cathy says:

    It is so great to finally put a face to the name! What a great article and a wonderfully talented person for the spotlight.

  19. Zoraida Bros says:

    What a wonderful feature! I love Catherine’s work and it’s great to see her image and read her story. Catherine has so much talent, so much depth and soul. After so much time communicating as a Facebook friend, I feel like I finally met her. Congratulations Catherine <3

    Zoraida

  20. ThaddeusRose says:

    Catherine… Congratulations on the feature! I love what you wrote. The spotlight is well deserved… you do excellent and beautiful work.
    Rose

  21. Anna Garner says:

    I knew you had to be beautiful! But I did not know how young you are. Finally I see a picture of you and your new shadow dog. What a wonderful blog and I am so happy to consider you my friend. Blessings always.

    By the way, Seamus has your smile (tee, hee).
    Anna

  22. Catherine has a great sense of style and design and you can tell, that she loves doing what she does. We are in the AFPP Guild together and I have had the opportunity to see lots of her jewelry and have admired her work. Congratulations on being chosen as a featured artist Catherine,I really enjoyed getting to know you even more.

  23. Jim Juris says:

    Catherine, your story is wonderful and I enjoyed reading about your jewelry making experiences.

    Your photographs are terrific.

    Nice jewelry too.

  24. Ahhh Catherine…there you are! I am so glad to see your face. I see in your smile the beauty I have always seen in your wonderful jewelry. Your story is just wonderful. I was so glad that ArtFire did this and knew you had to be one of those special people to get nominated. Congratulations!

  25. Catherine my friend, I can’t believe that I’m finally getting a chance to see the lovely face behind all of the lovely jewelry that you create on Artfire! Now I really feel like I’ve known you for years. What a wonderful chance to get to know you even better and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your Muse and I can so relate :) I love the photo’s of your shop and of your gorgeous views!!!
    Thank you so much Artfire and whomever nominated Catherine, you so deserve these accolades and what a very special treat!

    Kathy :)

  26. Gratz on the feature!!!!

  27. Sue Smith says:

    Catherine…I am so glad I saw this piece about you today. You look so lovely sitting there with your dog and I am so happy now to put a face to your ShadowDog name. Like your dogs, I like to follow you around. LOL Your work is stunning, full of life and nature. Such an interesting article about you and it was a pleasure to read it.
    Sue

  28. Congratulations, Catherine, on a well deserved honor! I had to laugh out loud when I saw this because I finally saw a picture of you and you don’t look like a pointy nosed dog with a cone around your neck [avatar]! You should post more pics of yourself, it’s going to take me a while to get the dog image out of my head when I think of you.

    I think you have a great sense of color. I always love your color combinations.

  29. Congratulations on the feature Catherine! It was nice getting to know a little more about you and your business. Such beautiful pieces too.

  30. PrettyGonzo says:

    Thanks for this fantastic feature on such an outstanding jewelry artist and wonderful member of the ArtFire community.

    And major congratulations, Catherine! Loved reading this feature and looking at the pix – especially the cute one of you and Seamus. :) Best wishes always!

  31. Maureen says:

    I’m very excited to see the face behind the shop I’ve been admiring for years. Your story is enlightening, and I’m glad to know you.

  32. Barbara Len says:

    Well deserved and well done, Catherine! Nice to know more about you and to see your world.

  33. This was a wonderful inspiring article. Congratulations Catherine! In addition to everything covered in the article, I wanted to mention how helpful Catherine is to everyone on Artfire. She always goes the extra mile to take time to explain or help someone. You know that she takes the same care with all of her creations.

  34. Augie says:

    OMG – Catherine – this is AMAZING !!! Congratulations on your feature – well deserved. My, hasn’t Seamus grown into a big boy!
    The article is brilliant and the photo gorgeous. Keep on keeping on! xox from Augie

  35. Catherine, I too have been following your shop for as long as I’ve known about Artfire (only a year or so, alas, though now I’ve a shop here too…) It’s delightful to read your story and I feel both privileged and prescient to have been so taken with your work and style. I think we’ve much in common, and I consider your shop a go-to when fretting over how to price something – I agree, pricing is hard to parse and not to be taken lightly.

  36. Jo/Umeboshi says:

    I was so pleased to see that you, Catherine, are being featured! How I love your work and the camaraderie we have on ArtFire! My collections are never complete without a piece of your work! Your inspiration shows so well in the natural beauty of your work and the kindness you always display on AF. I love getting to know more about my ArtFire buddies and this feature has done a great job of making “Shadowdog” a bit more than just a name.

  37. Gayle Dumars says:

    Catherine….I have admired your beautiful creative jewelry ever since I discovered you on Flickr a few years ago. What a pleasure to now see you honored in the Seller Spotlight on Artfire. And so richly deserved to say the least. Seeing your pictures and learning more about you and your creative process in your own personal words has been most enjoyable. You are also a great inspiration to others and I want to say CONGRATULATIONS and many thanks for sharing.

  38. [...] many other different non-stone components in my work. I have fun doing what I love!” more… [...]

  39. Karen says:

    A wonderful lady … of course her feature is also wonderful! Congrats, Catherine! No nicer shopkeep, lady, friend can be found xo karen

  40. How exciting to see my friend, Catherine featured! I met Catherine on ArtFire and was thrilled when she became my neighbor. We have enjoyed shopping for stones together, Catherine has a “natural eye” for colors and inspirations. Of course, Seamus always makes me smile, too. I love Catherine to pieces, she is such a joy….beautiful person inside and out. Bravo!!!!! Great article!!

  41. Audrey says:

    Way to go Caterine!

  42. It’s so much fun to read your story miss Catherine and what a wonderul picture of you and your newest shadowpup!! You deserve it my friend!!

  43. rose says:

    Fabulous feature of a fabulous artisan *and* fabulous person!

  44. Can’t think of anyone more deserving to be highlighted on Nosh – Catherine is genuinely talented and a fantastically supportive, lovely person on top. Wishing you every success my friend! :-)

  45. Congratulations, Catherine!!! What a terrific write-up ;-)
    I love your work ~ and hope your success continues to grow.