Allow me to introduce you to polymer clay artist Rocky Antonio, super mom and crafter extraordinaire (hehe). Rocky is a housewife and a hands-on mom to 3-year-old Liam, but that doesn't stop her from creating gorgeous works of art from polymer clay. When you see how intricate her work is, you can't help but wonder how she squeezes in all that creativity into her already busy schedule.
What makes Rocky's work different from the rest is her clever combination of polymer clay with otherwise ordinary materials. She transforms simple filigree components into surprisingly opulent bib necklaces. Her vintage-inspired jewelry, often featuring clay-covered lockets or embellished pocket watches, will make you dream about fairies in a secret garden. Customers have fallen in love with her signature theme of flowers and butterflies, either stamped or neatly photo-transferred onto the clay.
It comes as no surprise that the international community has begun to notice her work. Her intricate rosette locket landed on Craft Gossip, and some of her jewelry was part of Tejae Floyde's book Polymer Clay Artists' Showcase.
Like most of us, her love affair with accessories started with beads. Rockybeads, her eponymous online business, debuted on multiply.com in 2008 with simple beaded accessories. She later on found her signature style after discovering polymer clay. Before this interview, I had no idea Rocky discovered polymer clay through my multiply site. I am deeply honored to be part of her story.
Read the interview below to get to know more about Rocky and how she successfully juggles her passion for crafts with her Mommy duties.
Angeli: Please tell me about yourself. What course did you take in college? Any hobbies aside from crafting?
Rocky: I graduated AB-Psychology from DLSU. Aside from crafting, im really into music. I love to sing!:)Angeli: How did you discover polymer clay?
Rocky: I discovered polymer clay through the internet. I was looking around some multiply sites and saw your shop, Yummytrinkets. I saw you used polymer clay in making your accessories. I got so curious with how it works so I spent countless hours reading and researching about it on the net. I bought my first bars of clay from a hobby shop, and from then on i never stopped playing and experimenting with it!:)A: When and how did Rockybeads start?
R: Funny but i really don't remember the exact date when i started my online shop! (That's also the reason why i don't celebrate my shop's anniversary! lol) But i checked in multiply, i opened an account april 2008, so i guess that's when i started RockyBeads. I used to sell beaded stuff only, but when i started working with polymer clay and started to experiment in mixing that with my other beading materials, that's when i really really fell in love with polymer clay. It's because of that "mixing" that i started to make unique pieces that only RockyBeads can offer. :)
A: Let's talk about your handmade life. What is a typical day like for you?
R: A typical day for me nowadays is very chaotic because Liam goes to school already. My day starts at 4am: hubby goes to work then I make some orders, update my online shop, check emails and blogs while Liam is still asleep. When he wakes up, it's all Liam and house work already, until he sleeps in the afternoon (sometimes he doesn’t! Haha!). If he doesn’t , he sleeps by 7 or 8 pm. When he’s knocked down already, I start working again. But sometimes I also get knocked down when i’m putting him to sleep (so tired from all the household work and keeping up with liam hehe) and i just wake up in the wee hours of the morning to make orders again.
A: Being a hands-on mom, when and how do you find time to create? How many hours a day do you spend on your art?
R: As for the designing, I constantly think about it even if i’m cooking, taking care of Liam or while waiting for him in school. So i think the answer to the question is..24 hours a day, 7 days a week!:) Seriously though, i only get to play with my clays and materials and really put the design i have in mind to work for about 3-4 hours a day but sometimes there are also days that the hands won’t just work. lol.
A: What inspires you?
R: Lots of things! Music, crafty blogs, works of other people, but most especially materials! For a design idea to hit me, i usually put my materials in front of me and see what i can do with them.A: Are there any polymer clay artists you admire?
R: Yes! Foreign artists: Christi Friesen, Afsaneh Tajvidi (joojooland), Tejae Floyde, TreeWings studio, Block Party Press and lots more! Local artists: Jen Cruz, Angeli Sobrepena, Gin Rose Caballero and Erose DeLa Rosa.A: What is your design process like? (ex. Do you sketch first?)
R: I really just think of a design and then work on it. But sometimes i sketch so that i won’t forget. For mto’s, I usually sketch first for the client to check then if its a go, i start working on it.A: What is your favorite project?
R: The Full of Roses Heart Locket, Bug Lockets, Bib Necklaces and the filigree necklaces.
A: What polymer clay tools and materials are your favorite?
R: Kato and Premo clays, mica powder, acrylic paints, liquid clay, rhinestones, pushmolds, stamps, needle, and a toothpick! :)A: Let's talk about the business-side of things. What are your typical customers like? Is there a certain demographic?
R: Of course mostly women! I think i only had 3-4 male customers as for the age, i had students, mommies, grandmas etc..i think no specific age demographic.A: Your business is mostly focused on made-to-order or commissioned work. What are the advantages and disadvantages of making custom pieces?
R: The advantage is you get to use your creativity a lot in coming up with a design that the customer will like. The disadvantage is if they don’t like the design that you made because, you have to do it all over again! This is where sketches come in handy!A: What is your favorite custom order?
R: I’m very happy everytime i make lockets for clients because i know that it’s something that they’ll treasure. A keepsake of happy memories!:)
A: Have you encountered any bad experiences in business? How did you deal with it?
R: Fortunately, i have only encountered one! It was a customized locket with a broken heart design. She didn’t pay for it anymore because she and the boyfriend got back together! I just put it up for sale in a bazaar and luckily someone else with a broken heart bought it! (Hilarious! -Angeli)A: What advice can you give to beginners starting out in the biz?
R: Always strive to make designs that you can call your own. Find what you’re really good at and then develop it. Clients will always come back if they see pieces that are really unique and can’t be seen in other shops.