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Hello designers, welcome to this month's Spotlight!
Today, Halcraft Collection is excited to announce Kara Gerstel of Rock and Sea Designs as our May Spotlight Designer. You may have seen her intricate, colorful designs gracing your Instagram feed. This Southern Belle excels at beautifully crafted wire wrapped jewelry. She has excellent color sense and a unique spin on wrapping gemstones.
Read on to learn more about Kara and feast your eyes on her exquisite creations featuring Bead Gallery® beads by Halcraft Collection.
When did you first start beading? Tell us about yourself.
I’ve loved beads and jewelry for as long as I can remember.
One of my earliest jewelry-related memories was from when I was around seven years old. I used to visit Crystal Lake in Ellington, CT with my grandparents in the summertime. Crystal Lake was formerly known as “Ruby Lake” because of the prevalence of Garnets in the surrounding area. I used to sit at the water’s edge meticulously picking through gray rocks embedded with beautiful Garnets as my amused grandmother kept watch nearby. I used small stones to carefully chip away the soft rock to extract the red treasures and would present the gems to my grandmother with great delight. My other grandmother had a great love of jewelry and had a beautiful collection. Whenever I’d visit her, she’d let me try on various pieces, and I remember feeling like a princess, in awe of all of the sparkle and glamour. My love for jewelry grew from there.
When I was around nine years old, I started making earrings for my Barbies with ball pins and tiny beads, and eventually began making beaded earrings and barrettes for myself. In high school, I was fortunate that my school offered some fantastic jewelry courses as art electives. I took a couple of classes and learned some basic metalsmithing techniques, which awakened my love for creating beautiful things by hand. When I attended Ithaca College in upstate New York, I made wire wrapped gemstone necklaces and sold them in local shops to make a little extra money.
Once I started my career, I didn’t have much free time to make jewelry but would create things once in a while in my spare time because I always had that urge to create.
I think what drew me to beading was my love of color and sparkly things, and the joy and satisfaction I felt when I realized I could create beautiful things with my own hands.
Tell us about your jewelry business.
I sell my jewelry on Etsy at www.rockandseadesigns.com - I started my company, Rock and Sea, almost two years ago. My jewelry features gemstones and mixed metals, and my style varies from eclectic and Bohemian, to traditional styles, all with a focus on color, interesting wire wrapping, and unique textures and lines.
Over the years, I made jewelry occasionally as a hobby but didn’t have much time to dedicate to it because of my job. I spent almost 20 years of my career as a video producer for a global communications corporation. I loved my job, but when I left the company at the end of 2015, I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to follow my passion for creating jewelry. I started spending every day designing, trying new techniques, exploring styles, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Once I started designing and creating jewelry full time, my creativity began to soar. I made my business official when I opened my Etsy shop in early August of 2017.
What are your favorite beading techniques and materials?
My favorite beading techniques are wire wrapping and hand forging metal elements. I love oxidizing metal with Liver of Sulfur, as well as household products. You can create many beautiful shades and tones on Copper, Brass, and Silver. It’s like a science experiment every time! I enjoy exploring a variety of techniques - I’m always discovering new things I want to try. My favorite materials are gemstones, natural and raw stones, Czech glass, and a variety of metals (Sterling Silver, Gold Fill, Copper, and Brass).
What techniques would you like to learn?
There are so many techniques I’d like to learn! I love to challenge myself, and I’m always looking to improve and enhance my craft by exploring new things. I want to take some metalsmithing classes so I can elevate my metal creations. I’ve also been wanting to take a PMC (Precious Metal Clay) class. PMC is a really cool medium, and the possibilities are endless. Another technique I’ve dabbled in but would like to expand my skill in is wire weaving. It’s such a beautiful art form, and I love how versatile it is - you can create pieces that are simple and elegant or ones that are incredibly complex and take hours to complete. I love that there are so many online resources for wire weaving, and I enjoy watching tutorials on YouTube and following along.
What are some of your favorite beads or components on the Halcraft Collection website?
I really love the variety of beads and components on www.HalcraftCollection.com. Some of my favorites are the stone pendants and the crystal and stone connectors. The bead selection is impressive, and I always want to add one of everything to my cart! I was so excited to find such beautiful gemstone beads recently - Carnelian, Tanzanite, and Amazonite are just a few of my favorites. Also, when I saw the Kingman Turquoise, I knew I had to have a strand to create some statement earrings.
Where do you get your beading inspiration? What most inspires you?
The vast array of colors and textures in nature is what inspires me. I tend to find inspiration everywhere! My company name, Rock and Sea, was inspired by my love of the ocean. My husband and I discovered the island of St. John, USVI a few years ago, and it’s become our absolute favorite place. The natural beauty is breathtaking and inspiring. On my Instagram account, I periodically share my St. John photos, and I sometimes do “inspo” posts showing my jewelry next to a scenic photo that inspired the design. Many of my designs feature blues and greens that remind me of St. John and the Caribbean. I also love gardening, so I get a lot of color inspiration from flowers.
If you had room for only two tools in your bead kit, what would they be?
If I could only have two tools in my kit, I would have to choose my wire cutters and my six-step bail making pliers. These bail making pliers have changed my life! The most wonderful thing about them is that you can create perfect, consistent loops in different sizes. They are especially helpful when I’m working on earrings since symmetry and matching length is crucial. I also use them to create handmade ear wires.
What jewelry trends are you excited to incorporate into your beadwork?
I have always loved the gem of the sea, "pearls." A big trend this year is the use of pearls in a more modern and unexpected way. Pearl jewelry no longer has to be demure and only worn for special occasions. Pearl pieces can be edgy and bold, which I love. I recently created some earrings featuring Halcraft Collection Freshwater Pearls and Druzy Agate slices, which I added to Stainless Steel chain - I like to think of this style as modern glamour. Some other trends I plan to incorporate into my designs are bold link chains and raw gemstones.
Kara lives in a suburb of Atlanta, GA with her husband, Tom. They met at Ithaca College, where they were both Television/Radio majors. In November, they will celebrate 19 years of marriage!
Her favorite thing about Atlanta is the weather. No matter what month, there are always different varieties of flowers in bloom.
She has never met a craft she didn't like. Kara has dabbled in faux painting techniques like Venetian plaster and enjoys painting rooms. It is therapeutic and relaxing for her.
Her favorite travel destination is anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. She is just as comfortable on land as in the water and enjoys swimming.
She enjoys traveling, gardening, and photography.
Kara has 24,000 followers on Instagram! Visit her at Rockandseadesigns
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, #Halcraftcollection #beadgallery #halcraftprettypalette #prettypalette!
We choose a new designer to spotlight each month and would love to celebrate you!
Denise Yezbak Moore is a self-taught artisan. She is a senior jewelry designer for Halcraft Collection and loves to create jewelry with bohemian flair. Denise resides in Orange County, California, and enjoys hearing from fellow beaders worldwide. Be sure to follow her on Instagram @deniseyezbakmoore