Spotlight: Pharewings, Chainmaille Artist
Phare’s first encounter with chainmaille was being a chainmaille bikini model, and then she found her calling. A creative spirit across many mediums, she is now a full-time chainmaille artist and Twitch broadcaster, sharing her art and skills with the world.
Why chainmaille? How did you get started?
Why? Because it looked interesting and different. It was also funny as I was told by others, not my teachers, it wasn’t a woman’s art. I went to work with my friends and eventually teachers of the craft wanted a girl in a chainmaille bikini top. After watching them a while, I asked to learn. One year of just opening and closing rings later I was able to learn other patterns and my love for the art blossomed from there.
What are your earliest memories involving your own creative expression?
I have always been creative. From crayon drawings to loom beaded jewelry or friendship bracelets as a kid. I moved to plastic canvas and crochet as well. Wire wrappings. I also sing so I have always had something creative in my life. I have always tended to do things my way.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
As strange as it sounds, knowing when to take a break. It is really easy to just go-go-go-go till your whole world is nothing but your art. And then you just can’t anymore because the well has dried up. I think the hardest thing I have ever had to learn was to Stop. Take a week off. Play video games. Devour that book you want to read.
But also my Twitch community. They are amazing at going, hey have you thought about …. and it’s an utter light bulb moment! Some of the silliest and best ideas have been from someone saying something in chat and then getting my mind fired up on the possibility.
What is creativity to you? Do you consider yourself to be creative? Why or why not?
That’s a loaded question. It’s life to me. Again, I have always been creative and I come from a creative family. My dad did woodworking and refurbished old lamps. My mother was a massive artist from drawing, sewing, crochet… and the list goes on. I have always sounded myself with other creative types as well. I know I am a creative person. My few non-artist friends have assured me that not everyone walks into a store wondering how they can instantly up-cycle an item to look better and more personalized.
Have you always wanted to do what you are doing? If not, what made you decide to start?
Nope. I was going into religious studies when life happened, like it always does. Doing chainmaille and being a Twitch Broadcaster for a living just kind of happened and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
How do you make the leap from an idea in your head to the art you produce?
With a lot of profanity and determination usually. Then I just pick up my pliers and figure out how to make it happen or figure out how it’s not going to work and try a different way. It can take me weeks to figure something out, or to realize it’s a great idea but there is no practical way to make it.
How did you get started on Twitch? Tell us more!
So, I was hanging out online and one of my friends messages me and was all.. HEY my wife going to stream on twitch! Well what I knew of Twitch at the time (and yes my knowledge of Twitch has taught me how wrong and belittling I was) was how I answered ..”You mean the place where 13-year-olds go to talk smack to each other while playing League of Legends?” He laughed at me, then said no, she was going to stream art. So I checked it out and was amazed at this community I had been directed to in Twitch Creative. The next morning I was on again and started following other broadcasters beside FadyLace. He then showed Fady my art and she sort of voluntold me to start streaming. So I did my first stream on April 11th of 2016.. and haven’t looked back.
Are there indispensable tools in your studio? How do they improve your work? Where are they available?
My chiseled tipped Xuron 487. They are the best ever and you can get them on Amazon. Round nose pliers as well for the bead work and a good pair of wire cutters and memory wire cutters. I get most of my tools from Amazon. I also have a set of heavy pliers with no teeth in them for heavy rings. Good tools are so important in chainmaille. They keep you from hurting yourself or damaging the rings.
What is your favorite tip for organizing your stash of creative supplies?
Very Useful Boxes or containers like them. They make the best in ring storage. They stack nicely as well. For my beads I tend to use pill cases you get at Walgreen to sort my Swarovskis. I am also a fan of my Yazzii bag for 0n-the-go projects. I find craft storage to be an art form all on its own!
What does your studio look like? Where does the magic happen?
Chaotic clutter. That’s a thing right? It is a mix of ring and bead storage, as well as my other hobby crafts. But as well my computer, cameras and all the other things I need for streaming.
Tell us about your most challenging piece. What were the obstacles and how did you get past them?
We call it the beast. It’s a Japanese lace necklace. It uses many different ring sizes in a very tight formation. There is very little room to work and I cut myself quite a bit. (Cuts happen in chainmaille.) I am stubborn. Really stubborn and even if it took me 24 hours to make this necklace working 3 to 4 hours at a time, I was not going to let it win. And I was truly happy with the results. But the best thing was my Twitch community encouraging me to keep going, or telling me ‘hey Phare you need to take a breath”.
Have you had a “never again” moment, then gone and did it again?
Yeah its a bracelet called The Valentina. Its a combination of various weaves in different sizes. It a beautiful piece but one that is very, very challenging to make in stainless steel.
Do you think that creativity comes naturally to people – or do you think creativity is a skill that people must develop?
I think it is a combination of both. I think some are born with that flame while others have just the smoldering embers. Both take work to maintain and grow. I have seen so many artists who were told as children and young adults they had no creativity and walk away from the arts as whole only to come back to it and blow everyone’s mind away. I also think that creativity is not just art-based. It, to me at least, takse a creative mind to mix ingredients to new medicines and such.
With respect to your creative activities, what has been the greatest obstacle that you have had to overcome?
Myself. It is easy to doubt your self worth in the world. It is easy to fall into imposter syndrome as well. “I’m not good enough! They are so much better! I suck.” Sometimes it is hard to quell those voices. It’s realizing that even the artist you are looking at has the same doubts and fears while the same little voice gnaws at them.
What project are you working on now?
I am about to be working on two headdresses. Another beast, because I am silly like that. Play with more Swarovskis.
Where can people see your work?
Do you lecture or teach workshops? How can students/organizers get in touch with you to schedule an event?
I mostly teach online in my Twitch stream because I can show a close up of what my hands are doing and how I can manipulate the rings. I am always easy to reach there.
New patterns, more crystals! Then taking my art more on the road with my Twitch Stream.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I know that broadcasting on Twitch has made me step up my artistic game, as it were. It’s helped me push past boundaries I thought fully in place, and also given me the confidence to try new art. Like Quiltoni, another broadcaster on Twitch, teaching me how to quilt. Being able to share and teach my art as esoteric as it is has been one of the best experiences of my life.
Phare’s Favorite Tools