Femme Fatale Friday: Tammy Vitale

I first interviewed Tammy a little over 2 years ago on my personal blog after following her art via her blog, Women, Art, Life: Weaving It All Together, for I-don’t-remember-how-long. It seems I’ve been reading her beautiful writings and feasting my eyes on her extraordinary art forever. Tammy is nearly always the top search engine generated subject on Casa de Charlotte and that first interview consistently gets hits, day after day. Just goes to show how sought-after her art is!

I decided it was time to introduce Tammy and her art to the readers of NOLAFemmes. I picked up where I left off on the previous interview, anxious to hear what she’s been up to since then. (As if I didn’t know already!)

Since our last conversation you’ve added beadwork to your treasure trove of talents. Is this your first foray into this medium and what attracted you to it?

Well, not exactly. In the early 90s I tried jewelry making but could never find strong string – I have no idea what other supplies they had then but I was self taught and didn’t manage to find what I needed so I left it alone. Then I met my friend Tricia (now owner of mdbeadboutique.com) and for a while we traded work back and forth as a mutual admiration society. Then she took me to a wholesale bead show and I was hooked. When you buy that many beads you need an excuse to keep on buying so you start selling. I am attracted to glittery things so of course beads catch my eye! Plus in the economy downturn, I still had no problem selling jewelry. So I got really hooked and went into lampworking and beadworking (which is my favorite now). And it’s all so much more portable than clay!

How is beadwork similar and different from sculpting for you?

Making jewelry is 3D, especially in its fancier applications (wire working and the really 3D beadworking) – you can build depth into the finished product. Like sculpture you build it a part at a time and often it takes off in its own direction (okay, almost all the time). Better than sculpture (since I stick pretty much with clay and found objects) I love all the possibilities of beads – the colors, the matt vs glitter, faceted vs smooth – there are just so many lovely choices.I’d like to say it’s less expensive but it’s easily 10x more expensive than clay sculpture so that’s not an excuse. I can wear it out – it starts conversations, creates new clients, and while pieces are waiting to be sold I have this entire gallery of color and style to pick out the perfect piece for the day – talk about abundance! i LOVE that about making jewelry.

I see you’re also teaching now. How has that affected your artwork?

I teach very talented folks – whether or not they’ve ever touched clay. They all approach their pieces bringing their own experiences to bear so I get new ideas and tons of inspiration for my own work.

I don’t think you can share creative energy without new things being born, and I have always seen teaching as a two way street. As we work together to bring their conceptual ideas into realization, problems I’ve never thought of appear and are solved, ways of handling the clay, texture, color – all continually teach me to see anew through the new eyes of my students (who are always also my teachers).

Wyld Women Dancing Totem

How do you fit your art, both the creative and business sides, and your home life and responsibilities into a 24 hour day?

That’s an awesome question because for the last 8 years I haven’t. I’ve done pieces well, and other pieces poorly or not at all and was completely discouraged about how it would ever work out. Then I started working with my coach and suddenly it became apparent I wasn’t thinking big enough! So I am working on finding people to do those parts that can be farmed out or done better by someone else who will love doing them so I can do the things I do best: design and create. I’ve also begun putting together a combination of my former profession as a community-based organizer and my art into a program I call “AmpUP: Live/play/work outloud” that teaches others who are looking for “what’s next” or who find themselves yearning for something they can’t quite name how to think bigger. I’ve decided that will save the world! As soon as I get my website functioning half way smooth, I will have new programs under my “workshop” tab – I have a free handout with an overview of the art business that will go up within the next week or so. No wonder I felt overwhelmed! But it’s a good outline and is also a good argument for thinking bigger and starting to hire other people (this is done on a very part-time basis and works really well). Soon afterward I will be offering eseminars/webinars (depending on which I learn first). It’s all very exciting and I get up in the morning and go to bed at night thinking about how to bring this to fruition (I”m really really close!).

If you find yourself losing interest in a project do you feel guilty and push yourself to finish or set it aside saying, “ah it’s just not meant to be”? Do you have any tips you can share regarding motivation and/or discipline in completing projects?

I’m a firm believer in everything having its own time. If a project doesn’t want to be finished I have to look at why I’m resisting – is it intuitive that it’s the wrong direction and needs to be rethought? If yes, then stop and sit with it a while and wait to hear what wants to become. Is it because there are new scarey pieces to it that I’d just as soon not have to deal with? If yes, then persist on through, in small timed chunks if necessary, but keep going because this is a stretch out of the old comfortable cocoon and birthing is always a bit scarey but necessary. I think the answer of finish or no is in the why of the resistance.

One Woman's Life ~ Acrylic on canvas

Journaling or drawing pictures or collaging are all ways to bring forth answers as well as sitting quietly, or making a nighttime request before sleep to see what dreams bring. You know fear of success can be just as strong as fear of failure – stronger sometimes. Who are you now if you are this person capable of greatness? What does that do to your self image and what will you then need to do? (and who among us isn’t, in the end, absolutely capable of greatness – isn’t that why we’re here in the first place?!)

Part of what I love about your blog is the “Wylde Woman’s Wisdom” at the end of each post. Is spirituality integral to your creative process?

Linda's Angel

Yes. I have to believe that I have a part in something that is larger than me, that what I do counts in the larger scheme of things. We all tell ourselves stories and mine is that we came for a reason, and our heart’s desires are the guides to that. It would be so much easier if I could just get a regular job and collect a regular pay check, but the older I get, the less and less that becomes an option. It’s playing so much smaller than I am capable of, and fulfilling my possibilities (which increase with every success and even every “failure” that doesn’t stop me) really jazzes me up. I am not bored with my life. Ever.

Where can we purchase your art?

From me directly, locally at the several shows I do a year, from any of the shops I have, from any shops you can talk in to representing me (and oh I would love a shop in New Orleans! or, if not there then at least around Ocean Springs Mississippi!). Unfortunately one of the drawbacks of my new website is that I don’t have my gallery of work up yet (I’m hiring someone next week, but she can’t work on it if my webiste photo uploader isn’t working). That is looming large right now and within the next 6 months I will have an excellent gallery showing all I have to offer. In the meantime, scrolling back through my blogs gives a good idea of what I have to offer, and I’m always happy to send along photos if someone can sort of describe something of mine
they’ve seen somewhere.



3 thoughts on “Femme Fatale Friday: Tammy Vitale

  1. OOO! You got some of my students up here! Awesome! Would you believe the two ladies you chose had never ever touched clay before?! Aren’t they talented! Thanks so much for the post!

  2. Love the article about Tammy and of course, I am partial to all her work since she is a friend as well. There are several empty boxes which I assume are pictures of her work, however nothing is showing up except for her picture.
    Her jewelry is exceptional and one I wore actually got the attention of a actress on stage during a show and she sought me out to let me know how beautiful the piece was.
    Hope you can get some pictures of her bead work.

  3. I don’t know what the deal is with the pictures ~ I see them all on my computer. Will check it out.

    Tammy, it is hard to believe those ladies neve worked in clay before! A testament to an awesome teacher!

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