Working with Our Hands

Working with Our Hands

by Tammy Honaman, Author, Jewelry-Making Expert and Educator,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

Each of us has a story for how and when we began our jewelry-making foray. Whether it started when you were 3 or if it was just last week when you picked up your first bead and wondered where they've been all your life--you started making jewelry at some point and your stories are what I love to hear or read. These stories define us, bring a part of us to light that might otherwise be overshadowed by the other important things in our lives, bring back great memories and often put a smile on the teller's face. And no matter the story--it is a part of us we all have in common.

A commonality between many is stringing buttons from your grandmother's button tin (and who's the lucky one who still has those buttons?); forming necklaces from folded pieces of gum wrappers (which are now all the rage and used to make purses!), weaving long licorice shoelaces into bracelets that wrapped around our wrists, and knotting long pieces of grass for anklets.

Following a similar industrious jewelry-making path, I was propelled into business courses, college prep and socializing. There was no longer room for working with my hands and at the time, I didn't know what I was missing.

Adulthood and more specifically my budget brought back the thought of working with my hands to fashion gifts for the holidays. This inadvertently led to craft show entries, teaching and selling my wares. Enter Martha Stewart, Carol Duvall and Donna Kato--women who showed me this was a way to not only save money but also make a living. Pushing aside the constraints of space and money, I forged ahead and began a new career, focusing on jewelry-making.

The jewelry-making field at the time was not what it is today--and technology was certainly far from the progress we have at our fingertips right now. Modem lines in the home were rare, Prodigy was new, AOL was up-and-coming and keeping in touch on the AOL bulletin boards and chat sessions were a thing out of Star Wars, or so it seemed. For me--these tools became a connection and where I first learned how common my story is.

It is through these days where new friendships were forged across the country and strangers who you never met were invited to dinner. My love of hearing the stories of "where you started" came from these new friends and I wish I had saved those conversations, as they would make a great read--or at least be a good reminder that we all started somewhere.

Do you have a story to share? Inspire other jewelry designer-artists with your Success Story and gain inspiration by reading the stories of others. Share how you were introduced to jewelry-making, what inspires your creations and what advice you have for other designer-artists on their creative journey.