My earliest desire to work with beads came soon after my grandfather took me to the Alabama-Coushatta reservation when I was six years old. I saw a boy about my age in his fancy-dance regalia and was so impressed that I immediately started learning everything I could about Native American artways, especially beadwork. By my early teens, I was happily experimenting with loom-weaving, various kinds of bead embroidery, and off-loom techniques.
In college, where I double-majored in art and natural science, I learned my first metalworking techniques, and have continued to build on them ever since. Following a desire to combine my love of nature (particularly insects) with my need to make things, I started my jewelry business, Silverspot Studio & Metalworks, in 2003. The earliest incarnation of my website featured a line of jewelry that combined beadwork and silver: I set loom-woven panels of 14/o beads in sterling silver bezels, embedding them in a thin layer of resin. The bezels were cast from models that I carved in hard modeling wax, and my patterns were inspired by the infinite variety of spots, stripes, and delicate shading found on insects and other creatures.
In order to fit more complex patterns to a scale appropriate for wearable jewelry, I started amassing a palette of antique microbeads, down to 24/o size. These enabled me to make a pair of earrings (featured in Lark Books’ 500 Earrings) based on the pattern of the Burmese python, which were woven with 20/o beads and set in frames hand-fabricated of copper and sterling silver.
The rarity of microbeads has limited my ability to produce more pieces like these, but I continue to develop new patterns with larger beads. Recently, I’ve found that I love making quick Ndebele-stitch bracelets with 8/o beads, and weaving Ndebele “ropes” that complement the colors of gemstones I use with my metalwork.
My husband is an entomologist, and I often exhibit my work at ESA (Entomological Society of America) meetings, where I enjoy being able to present species-specific designs to an audience that’s deeply passionate about insects. My work is also available through my two Etsy shops: silverspotstudio.etsy.com features my lost-wax jewelry, while my fabricated metalwork and beadwork can be found at silverspotmetalworks.etsy.com.