SHOP SPOTLIGHT: SOHOBEADS GALLERY
How I got started? What inspires me?
All my life my family has been involved in crafts. I made ceramics in elementary school, and my grandmother taught me how to sew, quilt, embroidery, knit, crochet, and paint. I also minored in Art in college. My sister started designing and selling jewelry and it looked like lots of fun, but at the time, the two of us lived in Louisiana, and had many of the same friends. I did not want to compete with her so I decided to wait for a more opportune time, which came about when I moved to Florida. I sold a few pieces but making jewelry was more of a hobby than a means to make money. Mostly I was just collecting different types and styles of beads. My sister would tease me and say, "Are you just going to collect beads or are you going to make something?"
The reason I moved to Florida was I met a wonderful man and got married. Tragically, after being married for only a year, my husband died of a heart attack while out jogging. It was heart breaking for me, but I found I could escape from the reality of the situation by making jewelry. My jewelry became my life. I can forget about everything when I am making jewelry. And now, it has evolved into a passion and a business for me. I live, breath, and think jewelry.
I love the creativity involved in making jewelry and I don't make any two pieces alike. With some jewelry when you look at it you know who the artist is, but I don't believe I have a distinct signature style, as I am very versatile and I am always trying out new things. I feel with each new technique I try it changes the look of my jewelry. It is an on-going process that is constantly developing and changing into different looks.
I love fashion and I try to keep up with the latest styles and colors in the clothes I wear. Therefore, some of the pieces I make are inspired by current fashion styles, and those pieces are modern and trendy. Since I live in Florida the beach, shells, palm trees, sunsets, summer, and Florida colors inspire me, and the result is my newest collection, Bikini Beach Jewelry.
One of my latest passions is taking vintage pieces and reconstructing them. I take new pieces of jewelry and mix them with vintage pieces creating jewelry that is a really one-of-a-kind unique look. Most of my men's jewelry is created this way. These are also the pieces that I love to create a story to go along with them. With the vintage pieces I feel they have a past, and I wonder who wore this piece? What was their life like? I feel the fairytale stories I invent makes each piece just a little more special. The inspiration for the Big Catch Men's Charm Necklace came to me this way.
I also love working with polymer clay because it is so versatile and allows me to be very creative. My Aloha from Hawaii necklace was made using polymer clay. I also dabble in making lampwork beads and metal smithing. It seems like there is never enough time in the day for all the things I want to try and make with jewelry.
Carol Renfroe Loethen of Sohobeads Gallery