My Jewelry Story
My maiden name is Smith, so I think I must've been born with this desire to work with metal. When I was a kid, I loved hanging out with my father in his garage. He is a tinkerer, and there was always a project he was working on either in wood or metal. I enjoyed watching him work with his hands, and when we moved to a little town in Arkansas, I befriended the construction workers in our new subdivision and they would give me scrap telephone wire.
If you are old enough to remember telephone wire, the plastic covering came in a variety of candy cane colors. I would coil it and twist it into keychains, jewelry & whatever else I could dream up.
When I was in the 6th grade, I had an opportunity to take Band as an elective, and I decided to play the drums. I loved learning the different rhythms and had my first taste of the bliss associated with doing something where you lose time and feel connected to something bigger than yourself.
When I was in my twenties, I worked on small cruse ships in Alaska and Mexico. Some of the women that I crewed with spent their extra money on beads and would make jewelry in the dining room after the passengers went to bed. I was introduced to simple beading then and loved it. Beads became something that I collected on my travels and I gave away many necklaces to my travel mates!
In my late twenties, I met my husband, and finished a degree in Technical Writing. After we got married, we moved to the West coast where I worked for a Title & Escrow company. I remember walking down the street on my way to an account and I passed a jewelry designer working at his bench in front of a shop window. I was mesmerized, and in that moment I started to cry because I felt like I had missed my calling working with my hands in a creative way.
I was about 32 when I had that experience and managed to dig out my old bead collection from storage. I started beading again in my spare time, and after a couple of years, Shayne and I had the opportunity to move to Singapore. I was wandering around in an old shop in the Arab part of town and happened upon a box of Bedoin jewelry. That triggered a deep need in me to explore making metal jewelry and I started my down my own path of creative self-expression.
After we left Singapore, we found ourselves in Houston after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Shayne was working for a bank based in New Orleans, and I found myself at a jewelry supply store in the manufacturing area of Houston. I bought a small traveling jeweler's bench and all the materials I would need to make wire jewelry based on the work & teachings of Lynn Merchant.
I was off to the races!
I made a lot of wire jewelry, did some outdoor shows and kept working on my skills. We left Houston, and moved to Chattanooga, TN. While there, I was able to rent a small studio in downtown Chattanooga where I sold my work in the Chattanooga Market on Saturdays and was accepted into a cooperative gallery, In Town Gallery. This time spent in Chattanooga was an exciting time for me, as I started working with sheet metal and really exploring different techniques.
After a couple of years, Shayne and I decided we needed to travel around the US for a while, and so we did. I packed up the bare minimum of jewelry making supplies and managed to keep making jewelry and sending it to a few of my retail accounts I had landed while in Tennessee. I made jewelry in spare bedrooms, garages and hotel rooms for about 18 months, and managed to learn more skills from some very kind silversmiths in the American Southwest, along with a jewelry designer out of Black Mountain, North Carolina.
We continued to travel and then settle down for a bit and during this time I joined a few more cooperative art galleries, and I started to teach others also. By this time, I was writing some articles for Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine, along with Step by Step Wire magazine and I enjoyed sharing what I was up to with others in this way. We moved to Asheville, NC where I co-owned a studio/gallery in the River Arts District with a wonderful artist where we taught also, and I was approached by Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine to be their featured artist.
I had a full schedule and was loving every minute of it! By this time, we were ready to find a home to buy, and decided that Asheville was just too expensive. So we started traveling around the area and settled on Roanoke, Virginia. We found a wonderful home with a beautiful, wooded backyard and moved in.
I didn't make much jewelry for a couple of years, and then in 2018, I decided I had to create again. I ended up getting another studio in downtown Roanoke, and this time, I was approached by a jewelry representative and I designed a wholesale line. The last year has been filled with more growth and expansion, and all the things I was interested in during the course of my life has come full circle.
I am working full time in creative contentment making jewelry and continuing to expand my self-expression via a system called Human Design. I use my technical writing experience and website skills to communicate to others about jewelry and self-awareness work. The time I spent learning how to drum showed me that immersion doing something that you love is a working meditation. Being willing to trust the process of learning and making mistakes while continuing to develop brings a satisfaction to life that is indescribable.
I am now 52 years old. I hope that my journey shows that we are never too old to learn something new, to change our trajectory and do something that calls us to it from our deepest place. Bringing your best self to your life is essential to living a fulfilled life, and that is what I continually work on.
10 Wire Cages and Bezels for Stones, Best of Step by Step Wire Jewelry E-book, 2016
Featured Jewelry Designer for all 6 issues of Step by Step Wire Jewelry Magazine, 2015
Stylish Stirrups – Belle Armoire Jewelry, Winter 2014
Pillow Pretties – Belle Armoire Jewelry, Winter 2014
10 More Fabulous Wire Earring Projects- Best of Step by Step Wire Jewelry, E-Book, 2013
Curve Earrings – Belle Armoire Jewelry, Autumn 2013
Lightweight Metal – Belle Armoire Jewelry, Summer 2013
Oblong Hoops Tutorial – Step by Step Magazine, August 2012
Stirrup Connectors – Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine, Fall, 2012
Poppy Flower Tutorial – Bead Trends Magazine, October (Cover), 2012