What sparkles? What glistens? What takes hours to handcraft with a steady hand and dedication? Beadwork of course.
It is this type of artistry that Carolyn Cave has learned to master and now wants to pass onto others through her newly released book, Beautiful Designs with SuperDuos and Twin Beads.
Cave has lived with her family in Lacombe for the past eight years, so it is quite a feat to release a book in a line of artistry mainly dominated by those south of the border.
“It’s been very exciting,” she said. “It’s kind of fun that I’m Canadian because not many Canadians get this far in the bead world.”
Looking back over 10 years ago, Cave never imagined herself an author, or even creating such intricate and detailed designs with beads.
“I’ve always liked making stuff, even when I was a little girl, I fiddled with scraps of fabric. My mom taught me many things,” she said of the beginnings of her interest in artistic endeavours. “It’s just part of the creative process and making things.”
A decade ago, Cave started out stringing beads together in a strand, which did not quench her creative ambitions for very long.
“I started looking at making other things and it really just grew from there,” she said. “I had a few designs and I thought, well I kind of like this, let’s see if a magazine likes it.”
From there, Cave began sending photos of her beadwork designs to magazines and to beading contests in the U.S. Her designs expanded from basic beadwork to intricate pieces that take hours and hours of experimentation and after that, dedication and repetition to complete the finished product.
“It takes a lot of planning and figuring out,” she said of the beading and design process. “With maybe two or three tries, you might have it. It could take hours of just playing with stitching, pulling the thread out and starting again.”
A true process of trial and error, her designs are similar to a puzzle – once you find that one key piece, all of the other pieces fall right into place.
“I just find it so satisfying to have something finished and then of course, I’m a magpie, I like jewellery,” she said.
After a few years, Cave became quite successful with the beading contests she submitted work to and had her unique designs published in a few magazines.
From there, the idea came to Cave that maybe someone would be interested in publishing her designs in a book. She put a proposal together and sent it away.
“They liked it,” she said of the publishing company. “They started proceeding with the publishing process, but in the end they said they would rather not because it was just a little off the beaten trail, with the subject matter, but they said we really like what you do, so, if you have another idea.”
A new type of bead, a special two-hole bead called a superduo, had just entered the bead market, so she pitched the idea to create a book with new designs.
“From start to finish, from the proposal to the final product in my hands, it was two months short of two years,” Cave said of the time it took to compile all of the content for the book. “It took a long time.”
Cave curated all of the designs found in the book, along with directional illustrations.
“You can follow my carefully-worded diagrams and texts and end up with something that looks like what I made,” she said. “That’s the theory.”
What really draws Cave into beadwork is the fact that each design she creates is an original, one-of-a-kind. “It’s unique and I guess that’s the beauty of doing beadwork,” she said. “You can make something unique. People just like things that are one-of-a-kind.”
Along with beads, Cave is also an avid member of the Lacombe Handicraft and Lapidary Guild.
Lapidary can be described is the act of forming stones, gems and minerals into decorative items, including jewellery or metal work or pieces of hand-crafted art.
“The main focus is working with stones – polishing and cutting stones, so then what do you do with the stones?” noted Cave.
She said guild members, like herself, set the stones into jewellery, or do silver-smithing, make chain mail, do metal work or wire wrapping.
“You get the stone and then do whatever you want with it. It’s yours to create,” she said.
Cave, and along with members from the Lacombe Handicraft and Lapidary Guild, will have her beaded creations on display at Rocktopia on Feb. 27th and 28th.
The Rocktopia Gem and Mineral Show is one of western Canada’s largest selections of gemstones, minerals, crystals, fossils, beads, jewellery and carvings from around the world. The show is held at the Lacombe Centre Mall from Feb. 26th to March 8th.
Rocktopia has free admission.
More can be found about Cave’s beadwork, Lady Beadle Designs, or her book by searching Lady Beadle Designs on Facebook.