If you’re a fan of our Learning Center ideas, you may notice that quite a few of our jewelry designs include birds—either as the focus or as an accent. A lot of these bird ideas come from our Chief Jewelry Designer and Artbeads co-owner Cynthia. In fact, the bird cage picture above is in Cynthia’s craft room. I recently had the chance to sit down with Cynthia and ask her about her love of birds, and learned there is so much behind the reason she likes using these feathered lovelies in new ideas.
Cynthia grew up in New Caledonia, a small island just east of Australia. Living on the island meant that the sun always rose early—around 5am or sooner. When the sun rises, the birds begin singing. She can still see the number of different birds all singing in the morning, and the beautiful colors in each one.
She remembers listening to a song in New Caledonia about the wild geese migrating to the south for winter, too. In the song, when the man looks up to see the geese flying overhead, it fills him with joy because he knows where they are heading. When Cynthia moved to Washington State, she got to experience this firsthand. One day while she was outside she heard a noise overhead. She looked up and watched a flock of geese fly over in their familiar V-shape. “like in the movies,” she exclaims. Living in Washington exposed Cynthia to the natural migration of the geese as they travel from Alaska to the south, so she gets to relive the movie-like experience each year.
Her connection with birds goes beyond observance, too. “You know when people ask, ‘what kind of animal would you be?’ I always think ‘bird’. Birds have no limitations. To me, birds equal nature”. Cynthia enjoys gardening, and says that having birds in your garden is a good sign. “Birds eat all of the bad bugs and help keep your flowers blooming. Even though they [the birds] eat some of the fruit [from my garden], it’s still a fair trade”. The picture above is in Cynthia’s craft room at home. If you notice, the birds rest just above her Swarovski collection.
So how does Cynthia choose the right bird bead to use? It’s all about emotional connection. Each piece she chooses evokes a memory or special feeling. With the larger pieces, like focal beads and big pendants, she is immediately drawn to the color. Some of the bright patterns remind her of the birds in New Caledonia or her time living in Japan. Another favorite focal bead features an elegant crane, which symbolizes longevity and good fortune in Japanese culture. The smaller accent pieces with birds on them are used because of the instant emotion they draw out of her. Cynthia also likes using birds in her designs because they work well for any season. A cheery hummingbird can help light up a spring design, while a wise owl helps keep a cozy feel in a winter idea.
Some of her favorite Learning Center designs also tell a story, which is easy to do with birds.
In Sapphire Dawn, the bird pieces accent the story of Mother Nature. That’s why she also used branches and earth tone beads to complete the look.
In Nesting, Cynthia used a bird’s nest pendant to express the time, dedication and love that a mother puts in to ensuring a safe haven for her children. To her, it’s amazing to think that such a small creature can build such a complex structure as a need to to protect its young.
The next time you see a new Learning Center idea that uses birds, try and think of what Cynthia had in mind when designing it. Is there anything that inspires you as much as birds do for Cynthia?