I love the revolution in art jewelry styles that happened at the turn of the last century, from the beadwork and silver out of the American West in the Victorian era to the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles inspired by the influx of Asian art and King Tut's treasures. And Mother Nature inspires me every day! I began with my own variation of wirework as a kid: a green Peace sign was my first 3D piece! Then spiral stars, and flowers and fans, and I started making masks soon after I learned brick stitch--my Venus mask is my best so far.
I've been having a ball lately with my new wirework, spirals and squiggles, which sounds silly but they actually look really cool. Every time I think I've run out of ideas a new one pops up, who knows what's next! In the meantime, you can see my newest work on my website at www.Beadmatrix.Etsy.com.
My second grade teacher in Minnesota showed us the beautiful bead embroidery of the Great Lakes Native American tribes and I was captivated. Then at age 10, I found beads at Lee Wards: natural mother-of-pearl nuggets, little carved ivory elephants (this was 1974), and "Indian ring" kits, which led me to my first 3D pieces, using my own variation on their simple wire ladder technique. This is the same basic principle behind what has recently been popularized as a Russian style of wire weaving.
At age 21, I rediscovered beads and met some Grateful Deadheads who taught me peyote and, after I taught myself brick stitch, I was off to the races. I went to my first bead bazaar at the Bead Society of Greater Washington, and found out about Fire Mountain from some of the friends I made there. I started doing shows in the DC area, and in 2008, relocated to Portland, Maine.
Jewelry-making has become a central part of my life, and my living room! Sometimes the images come into my head so rapidly I can't sketch them fast enough; sometimes I go a while without new ideas. But there aren't enough hours in the day, even if I never had another idea I don't think I'd be able to make everything I've thought of. And of course sometimes I haven't found the perfect beads yet for something I've thought of, although I am just as often inspired by the beads themselves. And they still mesmerize me: I hold them up to the light, run my fingers through strands of seed beads and watch them sparkle. It's magic!
I'd love to make a living with my jewelry, as well as getting back to teaching and publishing eventually. Even in a tough economy, wearing my art on my sleeve connects me to people wherever I go and I get to make new friends, which you can't put a price on.
View all of Catherine's designs in the Gallery of Designs.