Interview: Cloette Zager

Today we’re joined by Cloette Zager. Cloette is an incredibly talented jewelry maker. Her work is incredibly unique and quite beautiful. It’s very obvious a lot of love goes into every piece. Aside from jewelry making, Cloette also enjoys writing and has done a bit of graphic design in the past. She’s a wonderfully enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Jewelry-making is my main art at the moment, but I also write quite a lot of fiction and poetry, and did a bit of graphic design work in the past (mostly designing the layout for magazines). Eventually I might turn the various lyrics I’ve written into songs.

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My jewelry has always set me apart. I stick to a medium-width style, symmetrical design, typically with large pendants as centerpieces. Picking the right beads in shape, color, and sheen is the most important part.

I can still do the complicated weaving and stitching that you might find in professional beading magazines, but find it’s usually not worth it. I once made a purse entirely out of beads and string over a two-week break, and my brother broke it under his shoe. Ever since, I’ve held myself to a rule that if a project will take more than four hours to complete, I have to simplify it.

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What inspires you?

Cats. No, really!

Besides cats, I like to look at things that are already beautiful and build off of them in new ways, frankensteining styles together until I have something suitably “original” that I still love.

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The things I typically find beautiful?

  • Cats.
  • Androgynous people? I can’t explain why but I find people with long hair 40% more aesthetically pleasing.
  • Nature: stones, shells, stars. Flowers are overrated for me.
  • Over-the-top desserts. Always down-to-eat, that’s me!
  • Anything that is more than meets the eye – lockets with glow in the dark stuff, magnetic materials, hidden compartments, false walls, characters that are more than caricatures…

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

When I was little, my mom bought me one of those make-your-own candy necklace kits. I spent hours making necklaces in different patterns and never ate the candy!

Honestly, being artistic was never a choice – my whole family is full of artists, and they were determined to relate their passion to mine somehow. Though I’ve never thought of myself as having natural talent for it, I have gotten better at various artsy things through practice and observation. I was forced (and I do mean forced) to play the violin for 8 years, and even participated in 3 different symphonies. Can’t sketch, paint, or watercolor to save my life. But jewelry? I can understand the math behind good designs, and apply that to already beautiful beads to make an aesthetically pleasing product.

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When I was young, I wanted to be a full-time artist because my parents wanted me to be one. I clung to that objective for a long time, and then took a computer science course in college. Science and math were actually my strongest subjects all throughout school, but no one pulled me aside and said, “Hey, this is something to be proud of and has opportunities.” When I saw the job prospects of computer scientists, I realized it didn’t make sense not to build upon the things I was naturally good at. My family has always struggled financially (and been unstable because of it), so fear played a lot in that decision.

I’m not a full-time artist, but I’m proud of everything I do create. Including code. 🙂

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Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I do! Haha, I actually got sent to the principal’s office once because one of the school police officers thought it was a “gang sign”:

It’s simple, and I’ve never seen it anywhere else. Usually found on my handwritten work, like first drafts of fiction stories or poetry.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

1.      GOOD JOB! It’s easy to be an audience; kudos for being a creator.

2.      Make things just for yourself, or you’ll only create ¼ (or less) of the things you’re inspired to make.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aromantic and asexual, so if you imagine the spectrum as a temperature scale I’m absolute zero. Also touch-averse, although I think that got a special name awhile back. I’m single and never down to mingle!

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Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Hrmghflgl. Not ace-specific prejudice.

Had a lot of weird situations at work where I because ostracized because I didn’t want to talk about guys. Had a not-great experience with the two people I came out as aromantic to, (they spent an hour each trying to define romantic attraction in a way I couldn’t deny. They failed to find a definition that I had experienced) but everyone thus far has been chill about asexuality. I think public awareness efforts have gone a long way.

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What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

People often think it refers to the action of not having sex, rather than the absence of sexual attraction.

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What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Knowing your orientation? It doesn’t have to change anything in your life. It’s something that says, “hey, I’ve taken a long look at myself, and this is a pattern I’ve noticed. I’m now aware of it.” Inevitably, we follow up with questions: “What now? Should I adjust things in my life?”

And I get that those last two questions can cause panic. For me, I didn’t feel like adjusting anything at the time. I still wanted to date the person I had been dating. And that’s 100% okay! For others, they might realize that some of their past sexual experiences were less consensual than they thought. They might feel that their dreams of having a family are incompatible with the lack of frequent attraction they expect to experience. And giving up on a dream, and trying to find a new one, are hard. But trust yourself to know if it’s worth it, if it’ll make you happy, if it’s necessary or not.

And if you decide to become a single-for-life person, welcome to the club! We have cookies!

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Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Simbi, simbi, simbi! My artsy stuff lives there. If you’re looking for my writing/poetry… welp, I’m still working on that. If I do make a site/blog/AO3 for that, I’ll probably link to it with my Tumblr blog about page. Or just send me prompts.

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Thank you, Cloette, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

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