Have you seen Cheri Carlson’s fabulous jewelry designs on our website? She has over 432 tutorials in our Design Studio, which means she’s made a lot of jewelry over the years! You might have also seen her on the Artbeads Cafe. She’s a frequent guest and is full of great jewelry-making information. We asked Cheri some questions about her creative process and her inspiration, to help you get to know our very own amazing designer a little better.
How did you get started making jewelry?
A jewelry casting class in high school sparked my interest in jewelry-making. That led to a summer job at my relative’s jewelry manufacturing company, which led to an apprenticeship with a jewelry designer who taught me the basics in design, scale rendering, and wax carving. I spent the next 27 years designing in the fine jewelry industry. While taking a break from work to spend time at home with my children, I started doing some basic bead stringing. A move to a new home put me in the vicinity of Artbeads.com and a new start in jewelry-making began with new skills and techniques to learn. And I’m still learning. There are so many techniques and variations on techniques in bead weaving and embroidery, loom work, and wire work. It is endless and so much fun.
What are some of your favorite designs on the website?
Some of my favorite bracelets are my Canyon Rapids Cellini Spiral bracelet, my loomed Hypnotic Blocks bracelet, a bead weaving bracelet called Anastasia, and my Puck’s Glen bracelet, featuring filigree components with Vintaj Patina paints.
My favorite necklaces that I’ve made include my Copper Beech necklace filled with Vintaj charms and beads, my Delia necklace featuring a herringbone stitch pendant, and my netted Rose Gold Royalty necklace.
What are some of your favorite beads to work with?
Probably loom work, peyote stitch, and bead embroidery.
What are some of your other hobbies?
I love most crafts and sewing, especially if it is home decor related. I love the hunt for the next “treasure” and fantasize about being a picker for a living. Gardening, but you wouldn’t know it if you saw my garden right now – it’s a mess. Camping and boating – being near or on the water. I’m also a bit obsessed with ancestry right now and tracing my roots.
What keeps your creativity flowing?
I get energized when I see what others have created. Going to markets, galleries, antique stores. I used to be a magazine hound with clippings everywhere, but Pinterest is now my favorite tool for collecting all kinds of inspiration and it’s so organized – no clutter!
Where is your favorite place to make jewelry?
I have a few. My workspace here at Artbeads is great. I have a three-sided station. I can swivel from my desk and computer to my beading station with most of my tools and supplies at hand, and then to shelves with storage for product and projects. There’s something to be said for being surrounded by a constant stream of new beads. At home, I’m in the process of creating a craft room, but it’s not ready yet. Meanwhile, I’m very cozy in front of the TV or a movie, with my family and pets near.
Any advice for beginning jewelry makers?
There are so many styles of jewelry and so many different techniques involved it can be difficult to know where to start. Pick a technique that speaks to you and will result in a piece jewelry you will enjoy wearing. Then invest in the basic tools to make that happen and the beads and supplies needed to finish the piece. If you enjoyed the process, then keep going. Build on your skills.
What are your essential jewelry-making tools.
I can’t do much without my Optivisor. I’ve been wearing one for over 40 years. I have several at home and I use them all the time for other stuff too.
For stringing, I like the Bead Crimper tool and the Mighty Crimper (I use it for closing crimp covers too). I like to devote a pair of nippers for cutting stringing material. I love having Bead Stoppers on hand and I use the EZ Bracelet Mini for sizing.
For working with chain, jump rings, rings, and other findings, I use chain nose, bent nose, and round nose pliers. My favorite cutter is the Lindstrom Supreme cutter with flush end. I also love nylon jaw pliers and the Chainsta.
For bead weaving and bead embroidery, I suggest a package of multi-sized needles to start. I use size 11 more than any other size, but until you know what size needles work best for the bead hole sizes and thread you are working with, it is nice to have all the sizes to pick from. FireLine or WildFire thread in a clear color is great to start with. Then, try colored threads. I like KO, Hana, and One-G thread and I tend to pick the one that offers the best color for the project at hand. You’ll also need some good scissors and thread conditioner. A big eye needle is great to have on hand and I always have a scoop nearby.
Want to learn even more about Cheri? We also had her fill out this designer profile sheet:
How cute! Did you notice the drawing of her Morning Glory earrings? If you have any more questions for Cheri, leave a comment below and ask. We’ll make sure she sees it.