A love for art is what I have always had. I have been drawing and creating as long as I can remember. My parents, George and Juanita Bandarra, being artists themselves, have always encouraged me in this avenue of expression and helped me make a career of it. Drawing was my first love and that has developed into more than I ever thought possible.
During high school, I was introduced to pen and ink art. As far as drawing, this is my favorite. I have found a unique way of expressing myself through this avenue of art. I have incorporated short poems into the drawings, as well as, peoples names. This is one thing that makes my pen and ink drawings unusual. I favor drawing faces, but have branched out into drawing plants and animals as well.
After high school, I had no idea what I was going to do as far as a career was concerned. I loved art, but trying to make a career out of that was next to impossible. I am good with numbers and assumed I would have to get a job as a secretary, or something that involved accounting. That was NOT appealing to me. Then, my dad, who is an incredible metal artist, came in contact with a jeweler. This jeweler, William Moore, carved waxes and cast jewelry. I worked with him as an apprentice for approximately one year and learned the process of mold making, wax work, and the casting process. After that, I worked for another jeweler who taught me jewelry repair, fabrication, simply stone setting, pearl stringing, and machine engraving. I was an apprentice there for about five years. After leaving Murray, Kentucky, my husband of five years, our two children, and myself ventured to Memphis, Tennessee. I worked for a local jewelry store there for about a year and learned advanced stone setting and the lost wax casting process. From there, I worked for another local store where I was able to focus more on stone setting and refinishing watches and detailed repair work.
It was in 1999, that I finally opened my own business, Tate Professional Jewelers. I started my business off very small. There were a collective group of independent jewelry businesses. They needed a jeweler to accomidate their repair needs, as well as, custom design work and stone setting. I had one room that I had ALL my equipment in , including the casting equipment! I didn't even have a sink in the area with me! The sink was in the hallway....but I made it work! By the year 2004, I was ready to have my own store independent from any other jewelry businesses. I still mainly serviced other jewelry stores with their needs which helped me have a steady income. In the meantime, I have built my own clientele of customers that use me for all their jewelry needs. I have been able to tackle most any request when it comes to repair or custom work. In 2015, my son Marques joined the ranks as Memphis' hand engraver and creates exceptional pieces, from hand engraved knives to custom belt buckles and pendants, trays, cups, etc. This is such an asset to our family business. My daughter, Maria has been in the business as well and has now decided to expand her talents in the jewelry industry through CAD creations. Without my husband's support and ability to help expand our clientele, and the enthusiasm shown by our children, the business wouldn't be were it is today. For that I'm truly thankful!
As far as my pen and ink drawings, I have just recently been trying to expose my drawings to the public. I know there is a market for this type of art out there. I just have to take the time to make it accessible to people. It might take several months to complete a drawing, but the end result is a piece of art that touches everyone's soul in a unique way. Hopefully, I will get a great response and can add this aspect of art to my love for creating jewelry as well.
My jewelry business continues to grow and I am very fortunate to have the support from family, friends and other businesses to help me become successful in this particular field of art. I never thought I would be able to use my artistic talents to make a living. It is a challenging, and sometimes frustrating work, but it is definitely satisfying!