Enameled charms - Interview with bead artist Cathleen Zaring

Enameled earring charms, Blue Hare Art Wear

Who doesn’t get happy just by looking at the whimsical, brightly colored enameled charms made by Cathleen Zaring? I certainly do. To be honest, I have amassed quite a collection of her beautiful art beads of which I can’t seem to part (‘my precious…). I will, in due time, I promise I will. For now, we all get to know the artist and woman behind these beauties a bit more, as she is this months’ guest.


Q: Can you tell us more about the beginning of your career as a bead maker? Were you always an artist? If not, what made you decide to change your career and how did you experienced this transition?
I was fortunate, as a child to have been taught how to loom bead by my mother, who used to make the beaded leggings and yokes for the costumes used by an American Indian dance troupe. I also had the good fortune to have had good, encouraging art teachers thru out elementary and high school. So, yes, art has always been a part of my life.
I spent most of my career in the event catering field. Because of the erratic schedule of this kind of work, I always grounded myself, by working on crafts, which lead to making jewelry. Over time I began to spend more time with my art and less time catering. Now I work on an on-call basis with a few catering companies in and around Napa Valley and San Francisco. It is great because I can work around my production schedule.

Blue Hare Art Wear, enameled earring charms

Q: Do you work full time as an artist?
Yes, except for some occasional catering work.

Q:  At the moment you work with metal that you enamel yourself. Why did you choose this medium? Are you planning to explore other materials as well in the future, like glass, polymer clay or ceramic?
I actually worked with polymer clay before I began the enameling. I enjoyed that medium because of the 3 dimensionality and that I could fabricate anything. My favorite part was making beads look old and weathered.  I chose to work with metal and enamel, because it is real and it is coherent, and I get to work with fire. I love the effect that the torch can have on the metal, and I greatly enjoy playing with color, vivid color, rustic color, making crazy combinations work in the designs.  As far as other materials, I am going to begin some construction work using silver and I have some Thai Hmong fabric on the way for making some colorful pieces. I guess I need to balance creating with the sharp and the soft.

Earring charms by Cathleen Zaring, Blue Hare Art Wear

Q: Are you self-taught?
Over the years, I have taken several intensive workshops on different jewelry making techniques as well as worked as a bench jeweler’s apprentice. I am a hands on learner and I have a deep need to experiment. I am always asking myself, “what if?”

Enameled earring charms, Cathleen Zaring, Blue Hare Art Wear

Q: Can you tell us more about the work involved in making enameled beads and charms?
After doing this work for a couple of years now, I have discovered that, because there are some less than fun steps that it makes sense to do a “group task” each day. By this I mean, perhaps on Monday I will cut out dozens of shapes, on Tuesday I will do my counter enameling (enameling the backs of the piece) Then a couple of days of putting down the background colors, followed by the fun and games of creating the design. This way I can focus and concentrate completely on the colors and executing the design with as much care as possible, without worrying about any other tasks. I think the clean-up is the hardest, but critically most important part of the process, which includes, filing, buffing and polishing of each piece.

Blue Hare Art Wear, work in progress

Blue Hare Art Wear, work in progress









Q: What inspires you in your work?
The number one inspiration for me are the great Master Painters, like Brueghel, Manet and Utrillo. With Matisse being my favorite. I think, also my memories have inspired quite a bit of what I have been doing lately.  I am a little bit sentimental for the past, and I have found great enjoyment in bringing back to life my memories of the 1964 World’s Fair and the colors and patterns from the fabric and furniture from my childhood homes.

Earring charms, Blue Hare Art Wear

Q: The name of your brand is Blue Hare Art Wear. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind this name?
Hahaha, only one other person has asked me about this until now..It really is a play on words. Back in the day, we used to call our grandmother and her friends, and ladies of that era, “Blue Hairs” because of the blue toned rinse they used to put on their gray hair to make it look pretty. I created the Blue Hare brand as I am creeping up on my own senior citizenship.

Enameled earring charms, Blue Hare Art Wear

Enameled earring charms, Blue Hare Art Wear

Q: Can you tell us what a typical day in the life of Cathleen looks like?
Pretty much I begin my day with a cup of tea or coffee and I check my emails, while playing catch with Tucker, my feisty black rescue kitty.

Cathleen Zaring, TuckerYes, I know, he’s a cat, but he likes that game. After that, I like to put on some music, lately it’s been country music, and do some simple household chores. This helps to ground me and connect me to my soul. From there, I will usually go to work out on the Porch and handle whatever task needs
to be handled as I wait for the sun to come up. Once the daylight is sufficient, I can work on the charms. Middle of the day, I take a break and walk around or take a swim (or a nap if I need it) After that break, I will finish more work or shipping and usually knock off around 7pm.  

 Blue Hare Art Wear









Q: Your beads sell the minute you list them and they are used by many well know jewelry artists. You have achieved a lot in the bead world. Is there a next goal you want to accomplish?
I am planning on incorporating some of my enamels into the construction of wearable art pieces.

Q: Is there a particular bead and/or jewelry artist you admire or whom you consider a role model?
As far as role models, Soji Wada, my high school art jewelry teacher, showed us how to put joy into our work and Iris Sandkuhler, who I only met once, but I admire her calm and confident way of creativity and that nothing is impossible to construct. As far as jewelry artists that I admire, there are quite a few, mostly it’s the people who push the envelope, keep it simple, make me smile or make bold statements that excite me the most, like Lynn Ferro, for her eclectic, organic vision, Nikki Zeller and Temi Kucinski for their use of stones and minerals, Suhana Hart for her whimsy and Richard Salley for his simplicity and exactness.

Enameled earring charms, Blue Hare Art Wear

Q: If you were not a bead artist, what would you be doing?
Probably still be catering, because I love that thru this kind of work you get to go to some amazing places and meet some very cool people, who ordinarily I wouldn’t get a chance to meet. If we had a local bead store, or a proper venue around here, I would love to teach young people how to make stuff.

Enameled earring charms, Cathleen Zaring

Q: Do you have a life motto and if so, would you like to share this with us?
I have a couple that keeps me grounded: “Integrity, Patience, Fairness and Generosity” and “If you learn by your mistakes, you may as well make plenty of them”

Q: Do you have tips, tricks or advise you like to share with us?
I don’t remember where I first heard of this idea, but the biggest tip I’ve got as far as design, is to once you think you’ve got something finished, take something away, until you can take away no more. This concept keeps things from getting too crowded.
Don’t be afraid to try something that has never been done before. Take a chance. Learn by your mistakes. But mostly, take some time to listen to and act on your intuition, because this will lead to the cultivation of your true nature. Whether it is gardening or teaching or art, I believe that’s were true quality creativity comes from.

Enameled earring charms, Blue Hare Art Wear

Thank you so much Cathleen for this wonderful interview. You made me smile with your story about the origin of your brand name. And your beautiful charms never fail to make me feel happy, just by looking at them.

Dear readers, to get extra brownie points (yep), it would be wonderful if you could send Cathleen a message on her facebook business page and tell her what you think of this interview and of her lovely work.

You can buy these bead candy at Cathleen's Etsy shop. More info can be found on her
Facebook page. She has a closed group on Facebook as well, where you get to see (and buy) her latest work. Just ask her to add you to this group.

This month we have two wonderful gifts to give away.

Give Away 1

Cathleen created these lovely earrings with her own enameled earring charms.

Give away, earrings Cathleen Zaring

Give- away 2

Of course I couldn't stay behind. I created these earrings with a pair of her earring charms I have been hoarding for a long time (my precious.....). Combined with handmade lampwork glass beads and vintage swarovski crystal. These were the star in my post of last monday on Earrings Everyday.

Handmade earrings by Janine Lucas, Esfera Jewelry

How can you enter this give-away?

If you are a regular reader of my interviews you know the drill by now.

If you are here for the first time: entering is very simple, all you have to do is comment on this post, to get a change to win one of these give-aways.

There are lots of ways you can increase your chances of winning too...

Do any of the following and leave an additional comment each time and you will get an extra entry for each one:

·    Share this give-away on your own blog
·    Share this give-away on your Facebook pages, Google+, Twitter etc.
·    Subscribe to my newsletter (see top of page, to the right hand side)
·    Subscribe to my email-list (to receive special promotions)
·    Become a follower of my facebook page
·    Become a follower of the facebook page of Blue Hare Art Wear
·    Follow me on Pinterest
·    Follow Cathleen on Pinterest
.    Follow me on google+
·    Like my Etsy shop
.    Like the Etsy shop of Cathleen
·    Anything else you can think of to spread the word.

Don't forget to leave a separate comment for each method to maximize your chances though!
Don't worry if you don't see your comments appear immediately. I need to approve them first, otherwise spamrobots will be able to enter the give-away as well.

The draw will close at 10am GMT on Sunday April 3, 2016 and I will randomly select and announce the winners later that day.

Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope to see you next time.

Want to read the interviews of 2014? Here is where you go. In the coming months I will publish all the interviews of 2015 in an E-magazine.

Too Late, but still very enjoyable to share it all

I found your interview and the giveaway a week too late, but I truly enjoyed reading it, and so I shared and joined in all to be a part of the fun some other time. Besides, I truly love this artists work!

Artisan Jewelry

I found your work and this interview by "accident" this morning, and I'm so glad. I really love enamel work. I've been very inspired by the family that did so much work as INGA Enamels. I've bought from them in the past, and regularly shop for their old brass from their grandaughter. It's wonderful to find an artist of the same caliber.

Cathleen Zaring Interview

I adore Cathleen's work! Her colors are vivid and yummy. She is lovely person to work with and incredibly talented. I love reading her process!

I shared on Facebook x

I shared on Facebook x

I absolutely looooooooove

I absolutely looooooooove Cathleen's work

Love seeing Cathleen's

Love seeing Cathleen's process and hearing more about her as an artist. Thanks!

I followed Esfera on Facebook

I followed Esfera on Facebook

I followed Esfera on Facebook

I followed Esfera on Facebook

I followed Blue Hare on

I followed Blue Hare on Facebook.

Cathleen enamels

I have loved enamels by Cathleen Zaring since I started my jewelry company! I follow on Facebook and etsy. Loved the interview and both of your earrings! I am not entering to win (others would be happy to know- I have developed metal allergies) but one if my greatest joys in life is making jewelry especially if is with Cathleen's charms :)...many of Cathleen's things can be seen on my Facebook page Howubeaddoin

Enamel Earring Giveaway

Wow, I only recently found Cathleens enamels and I absolutely love them. Her color combinations and artistic designs are amazing. And now I have found you...you make beautiful wearable art with your creations. The earrings in the giveaway are stunning. Please message me and let me know where I can find more of your beautiful work.

Thanks for offering this wonderful giveaway. Cathleens enamels and your artistic style are a fabulous combination!


Liked your etsy shop!

And lastly, for one more entry, I've liked your Etsy shop :-)

I've liked Blue Hare FB page

For another entry I've liked the Blue Hare Art Wear FB page!

Great Creativity!

Your earring charms are absolutely gorgeous! Very difficult to decide which charms I like the best!

I've liked your FB page

I've liked your FB page for another entry :-)

Liked Blue Hare etsy shop

For another entry, I've liked Catherine's shop :-)

Leaving a comment to enter

I'd love to win a pair of these earrings... if I had to choose I'd pick your ones, I love the pink and blue colour combo!

i'm a fan of your fb page

i'm a fan of your fb page

i'm a new blog reader =)

i'm a new blog reader =)

i'm a fan of blue hare on fb

i'm a fan of blue hare on fb

I adored your Earrings from

I adored your Earrings from the earrings instead of Chocolate Eggs post on earrings everyday and I would love to win them. I am a blog subscriber of yours

I subscribed to your email

I subscribed to your email list. :)

I subscribed to your awesome

I subscribed to your awesome newsletter. :)

Your work is original,

Your work is original, colorful, funky, eclectic.....So VERY COOL!

Great interview, great giveaways!!!!

Read the Interview with great interest!!!! Admire you both for your art!!! Warm regards, Birgit


signed up for newsletter.


Great interview! I am a fan of Cathleen's work and am already a followe on FB & Pinterest.

Following Cathleen on

Following Cathleen on Pinterest too.

I am following you on

I am following you on Pinterest. Cool pages I might add!

I subscribed to your

I subscribed to your newsletter too.

Yes, I too, am a Cathleen

Yes, I too, am a Cathleen Zaring enamel creation hoarder. Just doing my part to support the economy!!

I shared this article on my Facebook page

What a fantastic article. I love learning how an artist got started and how she works.

Cathleen Zaring

Can't wait to get my enameled components from CZ. Excellent article - thank you!!

I love Catherine's charms!

I love Catherine's charms! I haven't been lucky enough to own a pair or two yet, but they have been on my radar for a long time!

Cathleen Interview

wonderful read, I follow both of you in many places, ;)

Cathleen Interview

wonderful read, you two are awesome, ♥

I also smile everytime I see

I also smile everytime I see Cathleen's work and have acquired several pairs. I'm searching for the perfect components to add to her brilliant works of art. Hopefully I was successful at completing the above list, I'd love to win

I folllowed you on Facebook

I a now following Esfera Jewelery on Facebook

Favorited BlueHareArtWear

I favorited bluehareartwear on Etsy, too :)

Favorited esferajewelry

I favorited EsferaJewlery on Etsy

Great interview

I love Cathleen's work and my favorite part is hearing her typical schedule for production and seeing photos of her work space.

Cathleen Zaring Interview

Lovely and interesting interview. Now following Blue Hare Art Wear on Facebook, favorited Cathleen's Etsy shop and following Cathleen on Pinterest. (Just one comment this time)

Cathleen Zaring Interview

I shared on Google+

Cathleen Zaring Interview

I signed up for Newsletter.

Cathleen Zaring Interview

I favorited Blue Hare on Etsy.

Cathleen Zaring Interview

I favorited on Etsy (Esfera)

Cathleen Zaring Interview

I liked Blue Hare on Facebook.

Cathleen Zaring Interview

I liked Esfera Page on Facebook


I signed up for Email.

Cathleen Zaring Interview

I followed on Google +

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