November 4, 2018: A Curious Wandering
“Leaving what feels secure behind and following the beckoning of our hearts doesn’t always end as we expect or hope. We may even fail. But here’s the payoff: it can also be amazing and wonderful and immensely satisfying.” ― Steve Goodier
This week’s blog is in response to a question I am frequently asked at shows:
How did I become a jewelry artist?
If you had told me eleven years ago that one day I would be a jewelry artist, I wouldn’t have believed you. I had never even thought about creating jewelry. I didn’t see my self as a creative artist in this field. I loved the process of gardening from the initial stage of designing flower beds to the satisfaction gained when harvesting and arranging beautiful flowers. I had also been exploring water colors, sketching, and photography, but jewelry was not even on my radar. I was teaching full time and still had one child at home.
So how did I get into the business of making jewelry?
Eleven years ago, in September, my eldest daughter Kate, was getting married. I had found the mother of the bride dress, but needed to find the “perfect” jewelry to wear with it on such a special day. It turned out to be an exercise in futility. I wasn’t sure what this jewelry was, but knew “I would know when I saw it”. A week before the wedding, I returned again to a local jewelry store, dress in hand, and once again couldn’t find what I wanted. But attached to this store, was a new smaller one in which there were shelves of beading supplies. Curious, I wandered in and was instantly captivated by the sparkling array of colors, shapes, and textures. I was intrigued by the idea of design possibilities. An invitation by the sales clerk resulted in sitting at a table and “playing” with materials which eventually ended up in a beautiful bracelet, the design of which had apparently been hidden in my mind.
It was such an enjoyable experience, that I returned a week later, and the week after that, until it became a habit. I found creating jewelry to be a great stress reliever from the pressures of teaching. I searched for other beading stores and took classes to learn the art of beadwork using needles and thread. I was fortunate to learn from and be inspired by some extraordinary teachers who were incredible artists as well. It was both a challenge and exciting to learn something new each week. I began collecting beads, idea books, patterns and materials which could possibly be turned into jewelry. I discovered I was incorporating many of the same design tips of gardening into the designs of jewelry, with color, shape, texture, and patterns. Only this time, I didn’t have to wait weeks or months to see a result. In New England, the growing season is short lived. My jewelry lasted all year long.
After a few months, colleagues and friends began to ask me to make them jewelry, for gifts and for themselves. My first show, was the following summer, at a local event in a small town in Maine on a 2 by 8 foot table. This is where my journey as a selling artist began in earnest. It was a road I had never imagined. I thought I would be teaching in a job I loved until my 70’s. But six years ago, I took a leap of faith and left to pursue a dream. My husband Ron, as I’ve written before, is now actively involved in the whole jewelry process from designs to show times. We now participate in 16 shows a year, including two shows in our home featuring 10+ other artists.
So the answer to how I became involved in this artistic business is two-fold. My daughter’s wedding and a wandering, born of curiosity, out of one store, into another. These were actually the catalysts for the change that has impacted my world and led to this life I am grateful for, as a jewelry artist.