Disclaimer: Seller Spotlights are hand selected by the ArtFire Staff and contacted personally. We ask sellers to tell us a bit more about themselves and their business through their own eyes.
My name is Penny Cordova, I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana.
I am a one-woman show, from designing and making the jewelry, photographing the pieces, writing the descriptions, listing each item on the website, to packaging and shipping orders, and providing the customer service, I do it all myself.
I was inspired to create at a young age by my mother, who in her free time was always doing something creative, whether it was making jewelry, crocheting, sewing, or ceramics. I got my first taste of jewelry making as a young girl. It was back in the 70’s and my mother was into the big craze back then, macramé jewelry, and she would take me with her to a local bead shop in search of supplies.
I loved looking around the store in awe at all the colorful beads and then going home and watching my mom create her jewelry.
I also had a thing for pretty rocks. I would search through the hundreds of small pebbles used in the landscaping around the neighborhood where I grew up and pick out the nicest, prettiest ones to take home with me. So I guess it was only natural that I would end up making jewelry and having an obsession with gemstones and minerals of all types.
I didn’t begin making jewelry until my early 20’s when I started college, shortly after moving to a new city, Houston, Texas. I started bead stringing in my spare time just for fun and would make jewelry for myself. I was required to take an art course as an elective at the community college I attended, and when I saw that they offered Jewelry/Metalsmithing as an option, I immediately signed up for that.
It was my first experience making jewelry out of sheet metal using fabrication and soldering techniques and I loved it! I ended up taking the second part of the course as well, where I learned more in depth, advanced metalsmithing and soldering techniques. I continued to make jewelry for a couple years during college, but then I had to set my hobby aside for awhile to pursue a career and other interests.
Years went by before I started getting the itch to do something creative again. I was working long hours in a job I disliked and I needed a creative outlet as an escape from the high stress level of the job. So I began making jewelry again back in 2008, and soon after, my friends and coworkers started telling me I should sell my jewelry. I decided to try my hand at selling my jewelry online so I joined ArtFire at the beginning of 2009. I also enrolled in metalsmithing classes again to brush up on my skills. I continued taking the classes for several years to further my knowledge, improve my skills, and learn new techniques.
So I began making jewelry again back in 2008, and soon after, my friends and coworkers started telling me I should sell my jewelry.
The methods I use to create jewelry encompass both traditional and modern techniques ranging from metal fabrication, soldering, and stone setting to stringing, wire wrapping, and hand-knotting. My specialty and favorite technique is enameling, which is the process of fusing glass to metal. I use different colors of powdered glass enamels, which I apply to metal using various methods. Then I fire the pieces in a kiln to melt the tiny glass particles and fuse them to the metal to create beautifully colored and textured enamel jewels.
I derive inspiration from exotic places and cultures, architecture, design and color, rustic things from times past, and the beauty of nature. I love to create pieces with an Asian or Indian flair, to look as exotic as the places that inspired them. I enjoy using natural materials like bone and horn to create African and tribal inspired jewelry. And since I live in Texas, I am influenced by the rugged beauty of the southwest, which I often incorporate into my designs. My own personal style is very laid-back and bohemian, and this down-to-earth boho style frequently finds its way into my designs as well.
After working at a large corporation for the last 11 years and not feeling fulfilled in my job and life, I eventually made the choice to leave my job last year to pursue my dream of making and selling jewelry full time. Now I am able to focus all my time and energy on doing what I love. I sell my jewelry online and have started selling at local art/craft shows in and around Houston several times a year as well.
In addition, I have just added another exciting element to my entrepreneurial venture. I am about to start teaching metalsmithing jewelry making classes at a local makerspace in the up and coming Eado district of Houston, an area currently being redeveloped into an arts and entertainment district. I will teach several classes starting with the basics like sawing and cold connections, and then building from there into soldering and more advanced classes like stone setting.
Previously all of my work was comprised mainly of unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. I never made the same piece twice. Although I do love to make one-of-a-kind jewelry and I will continue to do so, it is more time consuming because of the other tasks involved in getting each piece listed for sale. I am a one-woman show, from designing and making the jewelry, photographing the pieces, writing the descriptions, listing each item on the website, to packaging and shipping orders, and providing the customer service, I do it all myself. The most time consuming parts of running my ArtFire shop are taking the photos, along with writing descriptions and listing my items, so I found the need to do something to make things a little easier.
I decided to create a line of jewelry with matching pieces that can be worn together, and reproduce these in multiples. This makes the creation phase more efficient by allowing me to set up a kind of assembly line effect. I also save time on the listing process, in that I can just create the listing once and then simply relist it after each sale, without having to take all new photos or write new descriptions, etc. This is a huge time saver and allows me to spend more time creating. I am implementing this idea at present, and working on producing my first line of enameled jewelry, which I am currently testing to see which pieces are the most popular so I can reproduce those.