When I was a child, I loved crafting…just about anything. My grandmother was very talented at sewing, crocheting, cake decorating and just about anything crafty. I am happy to say that I inherited the love of creating hand-made things from her. In the summer, I got to go to a neighborhood program where we got to make crafts. Of course it was the typical lanyards, popsicle sticks and ceramics back then, but I loved it. I was happiest in the summer when I could work on whatever project we had for that week.
We didn’t have lots of money to go on fancy vacations (although my parents took us (by car) to Disneyland once). But, our grandparents took us on car trips around the state of Colorado. On one of those trips, I learned about Native American beading and was very taken by it. Somehow, probably at a souvenir shop, I managed to get my hands on a beading loom. How exciting was that? I even managed to get some seed beads and started to figure out how to bead on a loom. That was long before the Internet, so I had to try to find books with patterns. I’ve never been great at math, but I was able to figure out the patterns and started beading as much as I could.
Fast forward to the 60s, the time of music, flowers, peace and love (and a few other things that will remain unnamed). All of the sudden, hand-made things were again important in my world…and beads were part of our wardrobe, along with bell-bottoms, sandals, and flowers in our hair. So, I started beading again. The Denver Folklore Center on 17th Avenue in Denver had thousands and thousands of beads that were within my budget. I strung necklaces, but wanted more.
Then I remembered my bead loom and started beading Native American patterns into strips as headbands or to attach to leather vests and jackets that I sewed in the tiny apartment I shared with my roommate and best friend, Vickie. I guess that was really the first “line” of items that I ever designed. People started to ask me where they could buy my vests or even strips of beadwork to sew on their clothing, so I needed an outlet.
About that time I met a bunch of people who were also into crafts, and we started the first craft co-op store in Denver. It was called Prana Works and was located on 17th Avenue. We all put our items in the shop to sell and we took turns running the store and taking care of the business. It was quite successful for a time and I really enjoyed being with people that liked making thing with their hands. Several friends from the coop, Lorelei and Danny are still in my life, even though they now live in Pennsylvania.
Since then, I’ve dabbled in macramé, weaving, spinning, cross-stitch and crewel embroidery, rubber stamping, paper-making, paper-embossing, sweatshirt decorating and apparently whatever THE hot craft was at the time. All along the way, people seemed to like the things I was making and wanted to buy from me. I sold to people that I worked with, at craft fairs, and to my friends and their friends!
I haven’t talked much about the B’Sue Boutiques Build a Line Challenge, which I’ll be doing for the first three months of 2015. But, preparing for this challenge has made me think back about what I’ve done and what's been successful. I can see that each time I was successful, I had really built a “line” of products that worked together, even though I didn’t realize it.
Now, here I am in 2015 and have been dedicating myself even more to working on jewelry for the past seven or eight years (in my spare time, since I'm still running my Internet Consulting and graphic design business, LOmara Designs) . I love, love making things that people really appreciate and want for themselves or for gifts. I love my business and working with my clients, but the jewelry that I make really speaks to my soul, so I make time for it.
When I started beading again, I started with stringing beads on wire, which was great for a long time, but I found myself wanting more. A few years ago, I found some popular brass findings at a big box store and discovered that I could color them. Wow!! That opened up a whole new world. I even bought an embossing machine so that I could emboss the pieces and color them. That allowed me to start making jewelry that was so much more fun than just stringing beads together with a nice focal that I had purchased. Now I could actually make and color the focals!!
But, always wanting to expand my creative horizons, I wished that there was a place where I could get different pieces that I could put together to be more three-dimensional and fabulous. It was then that I discovered the wonderful world of mixed media, brass stampings and, best of all, B’Sue Boutiques with wonderful teaching videos by the incomparable Brenda Sue Lansdowne. The necklace to the left is more along the line of the kind of jewelry I'm designing and making now.
My next blog will be all about the direction my jewelry design business has gone since my discovery and how I’m planning to move forward.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!