15 September 2010

Turning Beads Into Wearable Art

A few weeks ago, I said that I would conclude my Etsy.com jewelry posts with the shop I thought deserved the title, "Best Overall."  It didn't take me long to figure out which shop I would feature.  When I came across Cindy Caraway's shop, I knew I had to show y'all more of her striking jewelry creations.  I wanted to do more than just another jewelry feature, so I decided an interview was in order.  This week, I have the privilege of introducing to you, Cindy Caraway.  I featured her shop in two of my previous blog posts, "What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs" and "Off the Cuff."  One of Cindy's gifts is turning beads into wearable art.  Take a look for yourself at her impressive attention to detail in her jewelry collection and enjoy getting to know a little bit more about the designer. 

When did you start creating jewelry?

I can remember buying beads and string at Woolworth's when I was very young and was into macrame jewelry when I was around 10 or so. I didn't really start making jewelry to sell until the 1990's. I was looking for a craft to fill spare time and found a book at the library on making wire jewelry. I started selling it in a record shop run by a friend. She suggested I add some beads for interest and that was the beginning of the end! Pretty soon I was more interested in the beads than the wire and then the beads got smaller and smaller. I sort of stumbled on bead weaving and am totally self-taught. I put the beads away for a few years because no one else was doing what I was doing - in retrospect, I see how foolish THAT was!!

Fire Starter
Beaded Pendant Necklace

How did you learn your craft?

I am a self-taught bead weaver. Some of the things I was doing with beads early on were techniques I was sure I had invented. Then I saw some beaded art made by Native Americans and some African art and realized that I was just a tiny stitch in a long tradition of beadwork.

Beaded Statement Necklace

How did you get started on Etsy?

Hard to say - I can't quite remember. I had sold vintage items on "that other auction site" for several years and was becoming disillusioned with it. I think I found out about Etsy through an add in a magazine and decided to check it out. I opened a vintage shop first and was pretty successful and then opened my beadwork shop a few months later.
Dancers at the Fiesta
Beaded Cuff Bracelet

What or who inspires you?

Is it fair to say EVERYTHING?? OK, probably not...

Nature, movies, decorative arts of all forms, architecture, Chuck Jones cartoons, paint chips at the hardware store, illustrations in children's books, other artist's work... the list goes on and on. Although I love music - especially classical and new age music - I do not find too much inspiration from non-visual stimuli. I get more excited about beautiful things I can see and/or touch.

Egyptian Journey
Statement Charm Necklace
What do you do when you aren’t creating?  What activities do you enjoy?

I am a singer - professionally trained in opera but I am not an opera singer! My husband is a very talented guitar player. He and I have an acoustic duo and perform at wine bars, coffee houses and do the occassional wedding. We have a website at www.carawaymusic.com. I also sing with a local chamber choir of 24 voices and I love it!

Movies are a love of mine - my favorites are romantic comedies, fantasy and science fiction - and I enjoy theater, both doing it and watching it.

Mahogany Dreams
Beaded Cuff Bracelet
What are five things you want people to think when they see your product?

1. Wow!
2. How does she DO that!?
3. I could wear that.
4. I wish that were mine.
5. I would love to learn how to do that!

Beaded Statement Bib Necklace
Which item in your shop do you secretly want to keep?

Nebula. I love the color combo of pink and green. I have worn this piece out to functions and always get a great response to it!

Beaded Ocean Jasper Neckalce

Aside from Etsy, how do you promote or sell your items?

I have a blog - Artful Living on the Bluff  http://artfullivingonthebluff.blogspot.com/ and a website at http://www.cindycaraway.com/.

Mardi Gras
Beaded Cuff Bracelet

Is there anything about yourself or your shop that you want to share with us?

I would love to teach beading techniques - especially bead embroidery and bead weaving. Beadwork has been passed down through the ages by oral tradition, passed from generation to generation - I feel fortunate to have "discovered" it. I would like to do my part to keep passing the tradition along.

As for my beadwork shop, I guess I would like everyone to know that I use repurposed and reclaimed materials in almost every piece of jewelry I make. Beads and findings are salvaged from vintage jewelry and I like to use vintage brooches and earrings as centerpieces for my necklaces. The leather backing on all my bead embroidery pieces is reclaimed from damaged leather clothing I find second-hand. You never know what little nick-nack or treasure unearthed at a tag sale will make it's way into my beadwork. I think it's important to use the materials around us because those are almost always more economical and eco-friendly. I try to reduce, reuse, and recycle in my life as a whole and try to incorporate that thinking into my art as well.
Beaded Statement Necklace

Thank you, Cindy, for sharing yourself and your time.  I loved getting to know a little bit more about the lady behind the extraordinary jewelry.  And I can honestly say that I have thought the five things that you said you want people to think when they see your jewelry. 

If you would like to see more of or purchase Cindy's jewelry click here http://www.etsy.com/shop/CindyCaraway.

I hope y'all enjoyed Garland and Grace's first blog interview.  Don't miss a post by Garland and Grace, subscribe or become a follower today.

Living Graciously,