Love the excitement of a new artistic challenge? Find yourself looking for something new to try once you’ve mastered the ins and outs of one art form? Then you have a lot in common with this month’s creator and CraftOptics’ FIRST customer, Chris Mode.
Some people know Chris for her amazing art stamps. Others for her intricate bead- and metalwork. And still others for her heirloom-quality leather shoes and bags. No matter the medium, people know that anything created by Chris will be gorgeous to look at and meticulously made thanks to her creative skill—and her never-create-without-them CraftOptics!
It centers me. With everything that’s going on in the world, it can be really easy to get bumped off center. Having something creative in my life is necessary—it’s pretty much as vital as needing water. It’s almost like a fuel to me.
I went to school for art education, but when I graduated, I wasn’t much older than the kids and it was hard to find a place of respect in the school district. So, I started drawing and creating art rubber stamps and traveled around the country to sell my wares.
I did that for about 15 years, then discovered jewelry. I started making lampwork, or glass, beads, later got interested in jewelry components and added metalsmithing to my skill set.
The last few years, I’ve moved onto leather. I’ve always had a passion for fabrics, but not for sewing because you have to follow a pattern and that felt too restrictive. Now I’m hand stitching leather with a thread and two needles—just stitching it together and creating practical items. It’s a neat art and very portable.
I’ve had chapters in my life as I’ve moved from one medium to another. It’s my nature to push and push until I’ve taken myself as far as I can and I’ve met all my goals with a medium. I look back at the things I’ve made and feel really satisfied with what I’ve done. Then I find myself wondering, “What else can I try?” I like the excitement of learning. And once I feel like I’ve learned everything I want to learn, I start looking for a new chapter.
Leather is my current passion and I just finished a leather bag that is quite delightful. I drove out to Wyoming with a friend, and we went to a leather and tack show. I purchased a couple hides that were just yummy, and I made a nice little tote bag. I love that I can make something very simple—this had about five pieces. And after they’re stitched together, it could last for 100 years!
During the time that I worked in rubber stamps and glass beads, I also ran two shows: the Art Glass and Bead Show in Madison and The One of a Kind Rubber Stamp Show. I did each of those shows for about 15 years—they were both so much fun!
It was during my jewelry-making phase. As my jewelry skills grew, the size of my pieces shrunk. I was working on smaller and smaller things and realized I needed some kind of magnification to see what I was doing. My vision, or lack of vision, was starting to limit the way I could create. I’d been going to Tucson, Arizona to attend the gem shows and one year I started looking around for something that would allow me to see better.
The only options I saw were heavy and awkward or forced me to bring my work right up to my face—which was so cumbersome. Then this sweet guy (Charles Caplan, the inventor of CraftOptics) walked up to my booth and asked if I wanted to try his glasses. It was almost magical—this guy just popped up and had just what I was looking for. And, coincidentally, he lived right in my hometown (Madison, Wis). I came all the way to Tucson to find something that was in my own backyard.
I never expected to find something so useful and helpful. CraftOptics have truly been a game changer. The depth of field is phenomenal, and I can work as long as I want without having to crunch myself into the fetal position to see what I’m doing. I used to have to schedule time to stretch just to keep going.
Another thing I really appreciate about CraftOptics is how it’s improved the quality of my work. In the past, say when I was making jewelry, some part of a piece might wiggle a bit. I’d look at it as well as I could and convince myself that I’d done everything possible to take care of the problem. When I put on my CraftOptics, I realized, “Wait—there’s something going on that I couldn’t see before.” I thought my projects were top notch but getting CraftOptics allowed me to improve my finishing and really amp up the quality of my work.
I’ve had my CraftOptics for long enough that the DreamBeam light didn’t even exist when I first got them! The CraftOptics team came over to do some marketing shots and brought the light for me to try. No shadows and the right amount of light in just the right spot. They’re phenomenal.
Check me out at @creativemode on Instagram and Etsy, and my website www.creativemode.com