July’s Independent Spotlight is with Etsy gems, Kelly & Joey of Whimsy Beading.
What made you decide to start creating jewelry?
I give the credit to Joey, my husband. He had lost his job in the automobile industry in early 2009, and decided to make some beaded knitting stitch markers to pass the time. He would then take the stitch markers to sell at a local yarn store. Well, there was a certain strand of beads I’d always wanted, a strand of iridescent clear teardrop beads. I asked Joey to make me a necklace of those beads. He did, and when random people stopped me on the street to try to buy the necklace off me (and in one case demand that I hand it over!) we thought we might have something people wanted. In June of last year, we opened our Etsy shop, and the “Drops of Jupiter” necklace was a good seller for us. Along the way, I learned how to make jewelry too, so I could contribute to our productive power.
How did you decide to use the weaving techniques?
I’ve been a needleworker since my childhood. I started with counted cross stitch, and from there moved on to crochet, knitting, and needlepoint. Joey picked up beadweaving first by teaching himself peyote stitching, and then he taught me. He’s a fantastic, patient teacher. He also taught me to crochet and to knit – and if he can teach me to knit, he can teach anyone, since my particular knitting style is a combination of two separate techniques that usually don’t work well together.
How long have you loved making jewelry?
I dabbled at making my own jewelry as a kid and a teen, but I never knew what I was doing, so it didn’t work out all that well. So, I’ve loved jewelry for a long time, but have loved making it for only about a year or so.
How many hours a day do you work on jewelry?
I work a full time job, so I only get to devote my evening and weekend hours to making jewelry. I’d say I average about four hours a night during the week, and probably ten to fifteen hours total on weekends. It really depends on what else we have going on during the weekend.
What made you decide to start selling on Etsy?
We’d heard of Etsy from friends and seen references to it online. It seemed like a good place to start out and get our feet wet – good traffic, a good brand image and recognition. But it really boiled down to trying to make a little extra money while Joey was out of work. While it didn’t quite solve that issue, it has been a very enriching experience in other ways. We’ve met new friends both local and abroad and found things I never would have dreamed were being created, all by signing up for an Etsy account.
How do you come up with your designs?
Our mantra is “I wonder if I could…?” That’s really how it all starts. “I wonder if I could make this bead pattern make this shape?” or “This pattern would look really great if I modified it this way.” Additionally, our customers are a never-ending source of inspiration and delight. People have asked me to make things that I’d never thought of before, and it sends us down new pathways and new ways of thinking about the skills and designs we already have. I truly love every single custom order request we get – there’s always something new to learn or a new way to be inspired.
How long does it take you to make a single piece of jewelry, such as a set of earrings or a choker?
It depends on the beading technique and the amount of complexity involved. Something simple, like a birthstone spiral necklace, might take less than an hour. More elaborate items, like the netting collars can take up to twenty hours.
What inspires you?
Everything! The world is a rich, fascinating and wonderful place and there’s always something new to see if you keep your eyes open for it. I’m a sucker for Goth, Victoriana and Steampunk styles, though I wouldn’t classify our style as any one of those in particular. There’s touches of each all through our work, and I hope to introduce more of it as time goes on.
What are your favorite colors to use when creating?
I love black, purple, blue, green, red, metallic colors and I love anything iridescent. Swarovski’s line of 2X AB coated bicone beads (where the coating is on both halves of the bicone, rather than just one side) are a particular addiction. I’m a definite magpie when it comes to sparkly things.
How do you decide what colors will look good together?
Trial and error! I find one color I want to use, then I throw the other colors at it until something sticks.
What makes you decide to create a new product style?
Usually, it’s because I’ve learned a new technique, which I’ll then obsess over for a while (such as the spiral design or the netting wheel design I use often), and then I’ll learn something else that will take what I already know into a new direction. Also, like I said, new inspiration often comes from a custom request someone has sent in, which is why I enjoy them so much.
Do you attend conventions?
Conventions? No. Not many close to where I live, which makes it harder. Bead shows? Now, bead shows are a different story. There are several bead shows near us that we go to regularly, and we are vendors are several craft shows during the year.
What is your favorite product to create?
I like the birthstone items and the spiral pendants the best. They allow for a great deal of freedom in color placement and the overall finished look.
What is your least favorite product to create?
Anything that requires a great deal of peyote stitching using seed beads! I love peyote stitching itself, but it’s so time consuming that it takes a good long while to finish. The only exception to that rule is the peyote rings, which are not horribly time consuming. I tend to shy away from stringing beads these days too, because so many people already do that, and it makes it hard to make your work stand out. But stringing beads has its place in what we create. I’ve been using it in concert with other beading methods, such as tubular herringbone, to create necklaces that are much sturdier than beadweaving alone can create.
Do you have a signature piece of jewelry?
These days, my signature piece of jewelry is a bead spiral pendant of Hyacinth 2X AB beads with silver lined iridescent root beer seed bead accents. The colors work so well together, and the particular shade of pink that the Hyacinth 2X AB has is something of a signature color for me.
What are your favorite pieces that you’ve created?
I have a great fondness for my “Ice Queen” earrings.
What are your favorite colors to wear?
Black, lime or acid green, fuschia, raspberry pink, orange, purple, teal green
What are your favorite authors or books to read?
My favorite author is Terry Pratchett. Next to him are Neil Gaiman and Sharon Kay Penman. I’ve been a fan of all three for many, many years. I also read quite a lot of medieval history, focusing on England from the time of Empress Matilda through Elizabeth I, so I’ve read more than my fair share of Alison Weir’s works. I disagree with her on many points of study, but her books are very well researched and well presented.
What are your favorite movies or tv shows?
For TV, there’s Top Gear and Doctor Who. For movies, I tend to go more for guy films than ones aimed to women. I’m just not a chick flick kind of girl. But if it’s got comic book characters, sci-fi, animation, or stuff blowing up, I’ve probably seen it at least once.
What is your favorite music?
New Wave, Nerd Rock (They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Coulton) and the Indie music scene (Regina Spektor, The Decembrists). My favorite band ever is a band not many Americans have heard of called XTC, which everyone always thinks means the drug or confuses with INXS. No, there really was a band from 1977 to about 2008 named XTC, and they made amazing punk, post-punk and wonderful pop albums that were never on the popular radar. When I was 14 years old, I wanted nothing more in life than to marry the lead singer, a fellow by the name of Andy Partridge. No matter how bad I feel, if an XTC song comes on, it will cheer me up again.
These days my “musical boyfriend” is Colin Meloy from The Decembrists. I’ve really enjoyed expanding my knowledge about the band and listening to their earlier albums. I love the archaic vocabulary and allusions in his song writing, not to mention that I think it’s impossible for the man to write a bad song, especially with the depth of talent in the other members of the band. Oh, and Nashville guitar. While I’m not a fan of modern country, I adore traditional country music and I do love the sound of a Nashville guitar.
Do you have any pets?
We have eight pets right now. Two elderly dogs and six rescue cats. It’s well known that “These humans will give you love, food and all the furniture you can sleep on” is scratched somewhere on our house where the animals can read it.
Do you have any favorite video games?
I’m a big fan of Auron from Final Fantast X, but it’s not my favorite video game. My all-time favorite video games are Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Super Metroid. I’m showing my age a little, but I have an eternal love for the 2d side-scroller games, especially ones as perfect as those two. I wish Metroid would go back to side-scrolling games for their regular line up. I’m a long-time if not terribly constant player of FFXI, on the Valefor server. It’s all the MMORPG I think I can stand. I never was a fan of WoW, though I think the “my game is better than your game” stuff that goes on is pretty pointless. People should just play what they like and let that be an end of it.
What are the colors in your home?
Our home is a cacophony of colors. Yellows, browns, purple, red, deep sea blue, leaf green, lavender, you name it.
What are the colors in your workspace?
My work space is my club chair in my living room, so yellow and browns mostly.
What do you do to relax?
Beading is relaxing to me. After a day of working in an office, being able to come home and create something with my hands and make something beautiful that will give someone else joy, that’s very soothing. Well, it is until I can’t get the beads to behave properly!
How do you pamper yourself?
I take long showers with all the fantastic bath items I’ve found on Etsy, including the wonderfully scented bar soaps my friend Libby makes, and the goodies from Haus of Gloi. I might give myself a facial while I’m at it. Then I go to bed and read a book for a few hours. It’s the best pampering in the world.