I was born to a chemist and an artist in 1967. I remember days spent at home, painting, coloring, and just being creative with whatever materials were handy. I also remember the permeating scents of beeswax, oil paint and turpentine, since my mother was an avid painter and batik artist. My friends always used to tell me that I was an artist, too.
In 1985, I attended Iowa State University as a music major in piano performance. I quickly became disillusioned with my choice of major, changed it to art and design, and never once regretted that decision. I graduated in 1989 with a BFA in drawing, painting and printmaking, and an almost-minor in music. While a student, I created handmade paper and watercolor-painted jewelry for the small gallery located in the Union at Iowa State, as well as for the gallery shop at the Brunnier. I began experimenting with metals, beads and wire during that time. During the summers off from school, I was the assistant director of the Lakes Art Center in Okoboji, Iowa, and also taught calligraphy classes and children’s marbling, papermaking and abstract painting.
I moved to Seattle with my husband in 1991, and accepted a job working in a small gallery and frame shop in Kent, Washington. My husband worked for the Boeing Company, and I bought my first sheets of aircraft titanium at Boeing Surplus. I wasn’t sure what I would do with it, but it was interesting material.
We returned to our families in Iowa in 1995 and settled in Mason City. I spent three years employed by Golden Touch Jewelry as a bench jeweler, doing jewelry repair and some design work. I was certified by Jewelers of America as a Certified Bench Jeweler-Technician in 1997, after extensive hands-on testing in various repair and stone setting methods. I taught a calligraphy class and a kids printmaking class at the MacNider Museum, keeping my ‘other’ creative side involved.
I became increasingly interested and active in jewelry design as the years progressed, attending shows in the area and earning several Best of Show in jewelry awards (MacNider Art Market 1999, Charles City 2001, Lakes Art Center 1998). One of my favorite techniques involved patterning reactive metals (niobium and titanium) with a rolling mill, cutting outer shapes, filing, drilling, forming and finally electrically anodizing the interference colors with an oxide layer on the surface of the metal. I also use other metals such as sterling silver, fine silver, 14 and 18 karat gold, and mokume gane and shakudo patterns. I love to incorporate various stones into some of my work, and use themes of nature and emotion in all that I do.
In 2000, I became interested in making candles for Christmas gifts. I was then a piano teacher at home with my two children. Little did I know that my online search would lead me to all sorts of information about a new innovation in the candle industry- soy. I turned out some pretty nice candles for gifts, after exhaustive attempts and several duds. After many, "hey, you should make this into a business" comments, I thought I might just do that. I attended entrepreneurial classes, and tested hundreds of fragrances and soy blends. After 18 months of testing, I went 'public' with an open house in my home in 2002. I began wholesaling to stores in 2004, and continue to keep quite busy with candles. I moved my operations out of the home, and have had a shop for nine years where I can produce my candles for wholesale and retail sale, and for my online site. I am in the midst of a transition from retail space back to our private property studio space, where I will concentrate on my wholesale and privte label accounts, as well as allow pickups. During the summers, I attend four weekly Farmer's Markets, where I have a growing following for my soaps and lotions, as well as seasonal candles. I found soap making ten years ago, and that has become another addition (or addiction?) to my creative arsenal. Things keep evolving, and I find that I'm utilizing and combining many things that I have learned along the way.