Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of reconnecting with a group of old deadhead friends that I used to be very close to. This community was colorful and eclectic, and I learned so much from them. Being a bunch of hippies they naturally loved beads, so I also learned a lot about beading. In fact, I would say that some of the best beadwork I’ve ever seen came out of the the deadhead parking lot scene.
My fascination with cabochon beading – and also my love for antique microbeads – probably began during my deadhead years. I’d been doing beadwork, and even collecting beads before I got into the Grateful Dead, but those years really fueled my interest. I was exposed to the work of talented bead artists like Nome May, and of course, selling my work was a great way to support my gypsy lifestyle.
A few of my friends still have some of the pieces that I used to sell to fund my travels. I was delighted when they shared pictures of these older pieces with me. This one belongs to my beautiful friend Janna, who grew up to be an inspiring yoga teacher. It was made in 1989, and it features a large chrysacolla cabochon with a small (I think) raw emerald cab below it. The blue-green stones are tourmaline, and the quartz crystal at the bottom used to be a much longer, crossed/double terminated point, but it broke at some point over the last 20 years.
This barrette belongs to another amazing old friend, Hollie Rose – Java Goddess and owner of Klekolo Coffee in Middletown, CT. It was made in 1988, and it features 3 teensy opal cabs and 1 aquamarine cab set with size 18/o vintage micro seed beads. The funny thing is – I remember exactly where I was and who I was with when I made this (In fact, I still have some of the beads from this dye lot!)
Seeing these pictures reminded me of just how long I’ve been creating beadwork. It’s interesting to me that even though I’ve learned many different techniques over the years, I am still drawn to the same types of materials, such as cabochons and vintage beads. This picture shows me doing beadwork when I was about 15. Back then, I might not have guessed that my love for beadwork would last a lifetime, or play such an important role in my life.
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