Hello designers, and welcome to this month's spotlight!
Halcraft Collection is excited to announce our September 2021 Spotlight Designer is Michele Callahan of BigLOVEJewelryCo. Her boholicious baubles are a sight to behold! She has a keen sense of color and mixing textures to achieve a one-of-a-kind look.
Read on to learn more about Michele and her boho designs featuring Bead Gallery® beads, pendants, and charms by HalcraftCollection.com
When did you first start beading? Tell us about yourself.
My beading story is probably a little different than most. I always loved needlework and similar crafts as a teenager and adult but never thought about jewelry making. I love jewelry but making my own never entered my mind. Then, about 10 years ago, I started dating a man who made and sold jewelry as a business (Raymond Scott Jewelry), and I was instantly drawn to it! One day, I decided to take the leap, and I went to Michaels and bought beads. I kept it to myself because I was embarrassed by my simple and very basic creations! Even though I had watched him, I didn’t understand that some technique and finesse were involved! When I told him I wanted to make jewelry like he did, he became my biggest cheerleader and supporter! He always gives me advice, helps me with techniques, and encourages me to grow and branch out. He now owns another business and doesn’t make much jewelry these days, but with our new space and lifestyle change, I’m hoping this will change.
Tell us about your jewelry business.
I have an Etsy store, Instagram, and Facebook accounts where my jewelry is available. You can find me @BigLOVEJewelryCo. Anything listed on my social media is for sale, even though it may not be listed on Etsy. You can contact me via DM, and I will answer any questions you might have. Being completely transparent here--listing jewelry is my least favorite part! I love doing home jewelry parties and going to craft fairs. I feel that trying on and handling the jewelry makes a huge difference as opposed to selling online. There is a lot of jewelry available online, and customers have lots of choices. Bringing my jewelry to them is just another way of making connections and new friends.
What is your favorite project that you've recently finished and why is it your favorite?
That’s a tough one, but this question really made me think about why certain pieces stand out above others. Apparently, I unconsciously developed a sort of rubric that has drawn me to certain pieces. But, unfortunately, they tend to be in three groups, so there’s not one favorite!
First, there are the custom pieces I create for my customers. For example, I recently had a customer contact me about a bracelet she wanted in remembrance of her father. She described what she wanted, and after several conversations and exchanges of photos, we hit the nail on the head! She loves it and said it is her all-time favorite. She has purchased LOTS of jewelry from me in the past, but to know that this special bracelet was exactly perfect for her made my day!
Second, sometimes the most random and unplanned pieces turn out the best. There’s no rhyme or reason, but I love it when a project
comes together out of nowhere.
Lastly, I love watching tutorials and learning new things. Everyone has their own style and slight variations on techniques. Sometimes, I make things harder than they need to be, and I love seeing how others do it. Mastering something new, even if it’s a small thing, can be huge in jewelry making. Using new ideas, products, and techniques (Denise
Yezbak Moore rocks this department!) gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment. Being your own cheerleader is important!
Making a great piece with a new technique I’ve recently learned makes it an instant favorite in my book!
What are your favorite beading techniques and materials?
One of my favorite techniques is using beads with crochet. I’ve always loved needlework, and this technique incorporates that with beading, so it’s a win-win for me! Also, using small agate gemstones or glass beads is perfect for a delicate wrap bracelet or necklace!
What are some of your favorite beads or components on the Halcraft Collection website?
There are so many wonderful items on HalcraftCollection.com. The beautiful gemstone beads and all the charms/pendants are definitely my favorites. It literally takes hours to look at all the items they have available, but the beads and charms are so beautiful. As I browse the site, my brain goes into overload thinking of all the pieces I could make. I just purchased the EZ-crimp ends, and I can't wait to try those in my next pieces.
Where do you get your beading inspiration? What most inspires you?
My childhood years were influenced by my grandfather, who was a woodcarver in Germany, where we lived. He designed and created accent pieces and furniture. I spent hours in his workshop, watching him draw and carve his designs. So many of his pieces are in my home now.
My favorite artist is Gustav Klimt. My house is full of Klimt designs, right down to the rugs! I love to mix vintage and modern in jewelry, furniture, and clothes.
Do you have any tips for the readers regarding building their social media reach?
Do what you can and what you feel comfortable with. We aren’t all going to be Tik Tok stars or feel confident in front of the camera. Pick a platform like Instagram or Facebook, which is fairly easy. Post consistently, even if it’s just to check in and say hello, post a memory, a favorite piece or highlight another maker. My growth has been slow but steady, very organic, and I don’t lose many followers. Notice what others are doing. How they post, what they post, etc. Then try to push yourself to post more and on different platforms. It can be very time-consuming but worth it. Lastly, comment and connect with others, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Everyone is VERY supportive and always willing to help, listen or give advice. If you are afraid or hesitant about social media, your best resources may be under your roof! Ask your kids! They will be more than willing to help you get started, and as parents, we know they will be honest in their feedback!
What jewelry trends are you excited to incorporate into your beadwork?
I don’t really follow trends too much, although incorporating more chain, fiber, and dangles into my pieces is definitely a goal. I love anything that adds depth, texture, and curiosity. My jewelry tends to be more on the conservative side at times, but I love big, busy, and chunky pieces with lots to look at.
What jewelry techniques would you like to learn?
Too many to name! Metalsmithing would be first. Wire wrapping,
enameling and using seed beads would be next. There are so many fun-to-do and beautiful techniques out there. I am by far an expert, so watching tutorials and taking classes is the best way to get better. I am always amazed at how talented, and creative people are! I often find myself asking, “Well, why didn’t I think of that!?”
Michele was born in Germany and moved to Tennessee when she was in 6th grade.
She has a BA Degree from Western Kentucky University in Spanish and German and her teaching license. Her MA is from Utah State University in Gifted and Talented Education. She also has a Second Language and Administrative Endorsement.
After 30 years of being an educator and administrator, she recently retired. She mainly worked with at-risk students.
Currently, she teaches English 2 days a week to non-English speaking adults. She loves this new chapter in her life.
She is a county girl at heart! She moved to Utah after college but recently bought a new home on 6 acres in Tennessee. Michele enjoys the solitude of not living in a busy neighborhood and enjoys seeing wildlife in her yard and around the pond.
Boy Mom! Her two adult sons are her greatest accomplishment!
Some of her other hobbies include painting, knitting, crochet, and cross-stitch.
She is on Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok but is not as active on these platforms.
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 and content creator 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