Genea Crivello-Knable has been a dedicated crafter and artist for most of her life. She was accepted into her first craft show as a vendor when she was just 15. Since then, she has discovered and refined new skills, made many new friends through her work, and been able to do what she loves for a living.
Genea has always loved beads and jewelry, but has worked with many different mediums to create them. She started with polymer clay and a bead collection, and she is continually evolving new styles and techniques. "As you take more art classes, you fine tune your skills, and find out what you really have a knack for," Genea tells me. Genea has tried her hand at knitting, sewing, curtain making, painting, drawing, sculpture, and even metal-smithing, but her favorite medium is glass.
A lampwork glass maker creates glass pieces with colored glass rods and a torch. After the glass has been melted into shape, the final piece is then heated in a kiln to harden it and make it durable. Creating lampwork glass beads involves a steady hand and a lot of detail work. Genea was working in a bead shop when the owner started taking lampwork glass classes. "I thought it was a natural next step, as I already knew so many different jewelry techniques," Genea remembers. Soon after that, she was selling beads in the shop where she worked, and decided to set up her own Etsy store.
Not only does Genea sell her beads online, she sells her own mixed-media jewelry as well! The piece shown, called "Love Earth" is made with her own beads, Darn Good Yarn reclaimed sari ribbon yarn and Wooly Wire. Where does she find awesome products like "Wooly Wire" - wire with hand-dyed wool spun around it - and Darn Good Yarn? Mostly through social networking! Genea has been able to meet and become friends with lots of other great bead and jewelry artists through Facebook. There are many active beading groups that are a fabulous support network. A fun example is a project called "Bead Soup". Started by blogger and jewelry designer Lori Anderson, "Bead Soup" is a project where two random jewelry artists are paired up, and they then send each other a mix of beads including a focal point and fun clasp. They then make a piece using the beads they received from their fellow artist, and blog about the experience on their own website. It's a great way for artists to promote each other and create something gorgeous and meaningful.
Along with her Etsy sales, Genea also vends at major shows like Bead Fest in Philadelphia. I asked her which was the most lucrative, shows or Etsy. "It's about half and half," she reckons. "Etsy is a great marketplace," she explains, "but it's hard to stand out there. You are a droplet in an ocean of people.” And while she tries her hardest, it's hard to really represent the look and feel of the beads through pictures alone. "It's so great to see personal reactions to your work, to forge a personal connection," she says.
Genea is constantly honing her craft and always stays creative. The beads shown above are her "wingdings", which were actually created by accident! A bead of hers wasn't turning out, so she smooshed it in frustration. It's now one of her best-sellers.
One reason that Genea loves working with glass is it's versatility - glass can be manipulated to look like many different things. The stone-like appearance of the bead shown above is achieved by adding baking soda to the glass. As the glass heats, bubbles rise to the surface. As the bubbles pop, it creates the organic pitted look of the final product. I love the look!
We always love seeing the awesome places that Darn Good Yarn ends up. Interested in becoming a wholesale customer and using Darn Good Yarn in your work? Make sure to support Genea by liking her on Facebook here. What are you doing to expand your creative skills? How are you using your Darn Good Yarn? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you could be featured in a future blog. Thanks to Genea for chatting with me and creating such beautiful pieces!