My first jewelry making adventures were of the natural type; the all familiar clover necklaces and bracelets. I remember sitting at the edge of the clover beds searching for the plumpest clover blooms for my beautiful creations. I eventually graduated to making telephone wire rings. Every elementary school girl needed one, right?
When I was in 6th grade, I rummaged through my mother’s treasures in her jewelry box. I found a broken strand of pearls and a lonely cross that I knew needed my immediate attention. I restrung them together and wore them almost every day.
A few years later, when I was in junior high school, the most popular and hippest teacher in school wore the most awesome necklace to work one day. I knew I had to have a “Bubble Gum” necklace immediately! After walking home from school, I headed to the nearest bubble gum machine to collect a nice color assortment of gumballs. I went home, put holes on each side of them, applied clear fingernail polish and proceeded to string them. The next day I wore my own version of the “Bubble Gum” necklace to school. I remember thinking I was ahead of the other girls on that cool new look.
Thankfully, the elementary and junior high schools I attended in the 1970s funded remarkable art experiences. Mrs. Cornelia DeWoody took my young mind and expanded it with every type of hands-on art experience that an elementary child could imagine. They are some of my fondest childhood memories. Mrs. Virginia Dowdle added fuel to the fire that was already burning in me. She encouraged all of her students to build on their individual art styles. Mrs. Dowdle had the wonderful gift of pulling the best out of each of us. The words of these two women echoed in my mind helping to give me the courage to return back to school in my mid-forties.
In my early twenties, after completing all the collegiate art courses that were offered, I left school to focus on my family. Twenty years later, when I started to ponder returning to school, my heart knew I had to pick up where I left off. I wanted to stay in a field that I could create in. I had prayed for confirmation from my husband, yet I had not told him I wanted to go back to school. One Sunday after church, he stopped me in my tracks and told me he wanted me to chase my dreams. That gave me the encouragement I needed to sign up for school the next day. I attended the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology for the next 3 years. I was challenged and stretched far beyond what this middle-aged woman ever thought was possible. My education there gave me a strong foundation, thus building my confidence and releasing the creativity that had lain dormant for so many years.
When I am able to create a cherished piece from old family treasures, my heart soars. I love knowing that the piece I created came from a previous generation and it will continue to live for generations to come.
Designing new pieces that mark a special place in one’s life as a forever reminder and a future heirloom gives me the immense satisfaction of knowing that the work of my hands will go on into the future.
Repair and restoration is the icing on the cake for me. My heart sings knowing that I am the chosen one to bring life back to pieces that are needing professional TLC.
Thank you for trusting me with your treasures – Angela