Welcome to Friday Feature! A new weekly feature showcasing artists, designers and lots more. For the next few weeks, I’ll be interviewing some lovely creative souls who have been taking part in the Color Challenge to tell their story of their journey of color and creation.

Valerie Brown

I am Valerie Brown of Firepan Jewellery Designs, a jewellery designer, goldmsmith, beadweaver and neophyte surface pattern designer. Many thanks to Louise for featuring her color challenge participants on her blog and for enabling us to stretch our color wings with her monthly challenges.

Valerie’s work for the January challenge. Read her blog post here

1) What has your journey with color been like so far?

I’ve always loved color – Louise will be happy to know that my favorite dress when I was a little girl was pink! I think growing up in the Pacific Northwest (Victoria, BC) and spending a lot of time in my Grandfather’s garden allowed me to learn about color and all it’s subtleties. As well, I am a birder – so I really enjoy the complexities of color found in birds.

When I was in my twenties, living in the big city (Toronto) I tried to pull off the “cool” all black clothing thing. I was moderately successful, except my bright grass green car showed who I really am!

After moving to a much smaller community (in the Niagara Region) I was able to really express my love of color through my garden. I have almost every color imaginable in my flowers!

Then my path took an unexpected turn, and I learned how to create with beads. Specifically, I make jewellery and small sculptures or wall hangings with very colorful seedbeads. I finally found my niche. This lead to a diploma in jewellery arts (goldsmithing) – which is great, but the one thing I really missed in school was color! However, when I learned enameling I knew another door had been opened to using color!


Valerie’s work for the February color challenge. Read her blog post here


2) Tell us a little about the mediums/materials that you like to use? If the challenge is more difficult for you depending on the materials you use, please tell us about that.

When I found out about Louise’s 2012 Creative Color Challenge I was really excited for two reasons – 1. it would be a good exercise for practicing my enameling, and 2. I thought it could be a good push to use colors I might not usually chose!

So far, of the six challenges, I’ve made five pieces of jewellery (3 necklaces and 2 brooches), a collage, and a photograph. I’ve enameled two of the necklaces and used stones in 2 necklaces (one necklace has both). The brooches are bead embroidered.

I have found that the challenge CAN be difficult depending on the materials (never mind how I personally may feel about a color)! Some colors are hard to recreate in enamel, and stones for that matter.

Valerie’s work on the March color challenge. Read her blog post here

3) What has been your favorite color to create in?

I think, so far, I actually have two favorites.

I loved everything about the lavender/green challenge – the colors, the materials, enameling, and getting to use an unusual stone (charoite).

I also really like the blue challenge because the initial idea and design flowed very easily – so much that I made two pieces for the challenge!

4) What is it about this color that makes it so fabulous for you?

The lavender/green challenge came in the midst of a gray winter and it just seemed like a harbinger of spring. Also, I have lilacs, and my garden is full of lavender so I was able to anticipate the enjoyment I was going to have!

The blue challenge was a good one for me because it is my “old standby” favorite color. I liked trying to work in monotone as much as possible for this challenge, which can be hard with glass beads!

Valerie’s work on the May color challenge. Read her blog post here


5) How has the color challenge helped you stretch and explore color more?

Because I’ve always felt that one of my strengths as a designer is my eye for color, the color challenge has been useful to help me stretch to try to make something for colors which I don’t really like or wouldn’t naturally chose. I think this is very valuable to keep out of ruts and be mindful that other people may actually like those colors! As well, it has helped define what I just can’t do in regard to design (jewellery or otherwise) –like use mustard yellow!!

Valerie’s beautiful roses as part of her June color challenge. Read her blog post here

6) In what ways has it enhanced other parts of your life?

I’ve always looked at, sought out, and enjoyed color, but I think the color challenge has made me look even harder at it. Take Common Grackles for example – if people were to look at them in the first place they might think they are just blackish. If they are a birder they know they are iridescent. But now I look at them and want to pick apart the iridescence! Luckily I found a small breast feather in the garden the other day, so I can report they are bronze, purple and blue on charcoal brown!

As well, it has strengthened my intuitive relationship with colors and how they make you feel.

Last, but certainly not least, it has enabled me to feel that I am part of a creative community exploring color together and our reactions to the challenges!

Thank you so much  for sharing your lovely work with us

Connect with Valerie here: Website | facebook | flickr | shop


Fridayfeature_button125pxlWould you like to be featured or interviewed?

Please email Louise with a short introduction and links to your lovely work.




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