Happy August! Welcome to this month's Designer Spotlight!
If you're on Instagram and love beading and wirework, you're very likely to have seen this month's spotlight designer's work with the #prettypalettes tag! Sarah Baker has played along with me in ELEVEN different Pretty Palettes challenges over the past couple years, and I'm so excited to share her amazing work with you today!
Pretty Palettes is our monthly design challenge based on a color palette and theme I present at the beginning of each month to inspire and challenge beaders to adventure into color palettes they've not tried before or just give them that little jump-start you need to begin their next beading project.
You can find Sarah's amazing creations on Instagram as DancingGypsyJewels. Allot a bit of time for browsing, because I'm sure you'll get drawn right into the Insta-rabbit hole; her work is absolutely amazing! I'm so proud to include her in the Designer Spotlight, as her work with Halcraft Collection's Bead Gallery beads is truly inspiring!
It's hard to know where to start when it comes to introducing you to Sarah's work, but I think one of her most recent projects deserves to come first. She participated in the August Pretty Palette which, if you might remember, has a coastal Maine theme. She took my idea--and color palette--and ran with it to create an absolutely amazing project featuring the quintessential Maine icon: lobsters!
Sarah's Penobscot Necklace has two interchangeable multi strand sections as well as specialized charm pendants that can be worn individually (see the quadrant image below) or all together! Those lobsters are AMAZING, aren't they?
Read on to learn more about Sarah, her craft, and what makes her tick! I know you'll enjoy learning more about Sarah as much as I have!
When did you first start beading, and what drew you to beading in the first place?
As a child I loved to do embroidery, and in my twenties I discovered bead embroidery; it was only a short jump to start making jewelry with those beads. I made my first necklace in 2006 with help from a coworker who made jewelry. Looking at it now, the construction of that necklace is SO bad, but I was so proud of it! I still have it, although I don’t wear it out and about. My style shifted more into wire work about 3 1/2 years ago, and I love all the possibilities it presents. As a former architecture student and architectural historian I love the challenge of figuring out how each of my wire design components will be constructed, and then ‘building’ them.
What is your favorite project that you’ve finished recently, and why is it your favorite?
Probably my Boho Earrings or my Thunderbird Necklace (pictured above and to the left). After living in New Mexico for several years I just love the laidback vibe of the southwestern boho style, and having some Native American ancestry I’m really drawn to Native American jewelry. I love being able to take inspiration from jewelry in these styles that catches my eye and then creating my own version with my own spin. Both of these pieces took several layers of construction and throughout the process I was sure they wouldn’t turn out the way I envisioned them…and then they did. It’s a great feeling!
Do you have a jewelry business? Where can we find you online?
I had an Etsy shop for about two years, but I closed it up a couple of years ago. Now I just give a lot of jewelry as gifts! I do have a blog where I (sometimes) post about my creations, along with lots of process photos and even a few tutorials: http://DancingGypsyDesigns.blogspot.com.
What are your favorite beading techniques and materials?
Wire working is obviously my technique of choice these days. I like working with copper-core wire because it’s lightweight and cost effective…so I can spend my funds on semi-precious beads instead. I work mainly with semi-precious beads, but I also use glass crystals and silver plated beads for accents.
What techniques would you like to learn?
Soldering! It would make creating my wire frames SO MUCH EASIER. And probably sturdier.
What are some of your favorite beads or components on the Halcraft Collection website?
I really like the moonstones, the quartz chunks in every single color, and I found some large faceted agate rondelles in the most gorgeous shade of blue while working on my latest Pretty Palette project that had me drooling.
Where do you get your beading inspiration? What most inspires you?
Oh man, everywhere. With my architecture background I’m always looking at things that catch my eye and thinking, how could I construct something like that out of wire? My head is always turned by ancient and tribal jewelry, really bold and bright color schemes, and anything with dangles. I’m constantly saving photos on my phone of things I come across online or on Instagram that I find beautiful (be it interior design, fashion, flowers, buildings, travel photos, etc.) and inspire new jewelry ideas. Problem is, I have wayyyy too many inspiration photos and not enough time.
If you had room for only two tools in your bead kit, what would they be?
This is impossible! For every single project I do my bare essentials are my chain nose pliers, wire snips, and round nose pliers. I also usually have my flat nose pliers on hand, but I could get by without those if I had to.
What jewelry trends are you excited to incorporate into your beadwork?
Chunky layers and anything boho. I don’t usually gravitate toward ‘fad’ jewelry trends that won’t be around for more than a couple of seasons, but I do actively seek out cultural and ethnic influences.
Sarah currently lives in Southern California, but she's a bit of a nomad and has lived in five states in the last eleven years!
She's turning 40 next year (cue early mid-life crisis... she's freaking out!), and she's a super nutrition freak.
Sarah used to dabble in all sorts of crafts, but a couple of years ago decided to try to be more intentional about her jewelry (but still keeps a bit of embroidery thrown in), so she gave up all her other crafty ways. She's enjoyed not splitting her focus so much and has been finishing more of the projects she starts!
If she's not making jewelry, you can usually find her dancing in her neighborhood dance studio--her biggest lifelong passion! Salsa, swing, country two-step, ballroom--she loves it all, but salsa is her favorite!
Are you interested in being in our Designer Spotlight?
Join our Beaded Jewelry Facebook group today and tag us in your projects on Instagram with @halcraftcollectionbeads, #prettypalettes, #beadgallery!
We choose a new designer to spotlight each month and would love to celebrate you!
Molly Schaller loves beading, knitting, gardening, bookbinding, and being with her family and pets. She’s always on the lookout for new ways to express her creativity and help others learn ways to tap into their creativity as well!