Our diverse jewelry selection just expanded with the addition of a new designer at Eden! Kiowa Rose jewelry is designed and created by Rosie Long, our newest Featured Artist. We chatted with Rosie about her background, influences, aesthetic, and love of beading. This woman has a really deep passion for what she does, and it shows in her intricately crafted jewelry and (we think) this interview! Read on…
Rosie Long: I have a very vivid memory of being 8 years old. It was the day after Halloween. At the bottom of the porch steps was a broken strand of Victorian hollow black glass beads – I was awestruck! I think that was my first realization of what beauty was. I carried them in my pocket all day feeling the coolness and the shape of the beads as I ran my fingers over them. I still wear those beads today, and they are still so beautiful.
My mother bought me a bead loom when I was 10 years old. I learned quickly and would create little pieces of loom work but wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. In my early teen years, I started buying seed beads at the craft store. I figured it out all myself as at that time, there were no classes or books. It was really a matter of evolving. I remember trying to do Native American style beading when I first started, but that did not satisfy me. I just started doing what satisfied my soul. As I continued to learn through experimentation I realized that possibilities of what one could do with beads were endless, which is why I have always loved this medium: you never get bored. The only limit is your imagination! There are no rules, you can make anything work. If you have an idea, you can make it happen. It may not always be easy, and therein is the challenge: figuring out how to put it all together. People ask what inspires me, and all I can say is everything! I am one of those people that sees the beauty and the “silver lining” in everything. Each day inspires me. I wake up inspired and excited that I get to do bead work today.
I never intended to open a store, it is another thing that evolved. I was approached by some photographer friends with the idea of sharing studio space in a store front in a historic old town area, and I said “yes.” The space was 9 1/2 feet wide by 50 feet deep. I had the front half, so I moved all my studio items in there. Niles is a town that tourists visit on the weekend, so I thought, why not sell my things out of the studio? I set up a space in the very front with some beautiful antiques because I love interior design in addition to beading. I made it very pretty and opened the doors on the weekends. After the year lease was up, my partners decided to abandon me for greener pastures. I had a choice: either close the shop or figure out how to make the full rent! I had to be able to make $23.00 a day to pay the full rent. (That sounds so easy now!) I decided that I wanted to continue with the store, so that meant teaching beading classes, so I figured I might as well sell beads too. And there you have it!
Eden: If you were to have taken a different path in life, what do you think it would have been? (Something creative or artistic, but in a different medium, or something totally different?)
RL: I was going to school to be a geologist, and I wanted to be a park ranger. I also did historical research and recreated 1500s portrait jewelry and did Elizabethan costuming. I loved doing that and still do some of the portrait reproduction work. I dabbled in some other are forms, but I felt they were limited; for me, bead work is not. I am still learning and creating new styles and stitches. As I have gotten older I found I truly enjoyed and I am good at interior design. The bead work has always been there for me, and I have a husband of 30 years who has always encouraged and supported my artistic endeavors!
E: What other pursuits do you enjoy – hobbies, travel, interests… what activities outside of making jewelry inspire you to make jewelry?
RL: I garden, and I love to bead in the garden but beading is really about it, I am pretty obsessed! I like to read. I wish I could hike, but I can’t, so my husband hikes and I sit at the trail head and guess what? Yep, I bead. It is really all I want to do. I probably get at least 3 or 4 ideas for things to make at day, sometimes lots more. I am happy and very content!
E: You’ve mentioned that Art Nouveau is a principle interest in your jewelry designs. Can you list a few other influences?
RL: I am inspired by Egyptian-themed things. When they discovered King Tut’s Tomb in 1922 there was an explosion of themed furniture, textiles and jewelry, which I love. I am also very fond of the Elizabethan era – I did lots of research about jewelry from that period and made jewelry inspired by it.
Another huge influence is other artists! For instance, I know a guy named Bob Burkett that does amazing cast bugs, bats, fairies, etc. I am working on 2 pieces right now whose idea stemmed from his pieces. The ‘fruit bat’ is a piece I am doing with one of his bats and Bob’s dragonfly I am using with a vintage sash pin and shoe buckles. His attention to detail is amazing.
E: What is your creative process like when you are beading? Do you create a color story first, determining colors of beads you want to use or make your designs starting with feature beads that you like and going from there?
RL: Quite often a single component will spark the idea. Then I usually have an idea of colors I want to use and a basic shape. I will go through all my seed beads, crystals, Czech glass and vintage items and pick out all the things that I think I might use. Sometimes this can be quite a pile. This piece started with a branch from a curly fig tree; it will be a wall hanging. My favorite and the most exciting beading I do is the bead embroidery. With this technique, I begin with a central component. The whole time I am beading the first row I am thinking, “what I will do for the next row?” It is a very consuming and exciting process.
E: What sort of a space do you work in? A dedicated studio, a relegated space in your home? Do you have a ritual for getting in the creative mind space to make things?
RL: I recently moved here to the Portland area. I have taken the living room and I use that room for a studio. I am still getting it all organized and things put away, and it will be so amazing when it is done! I don’t have to do anything to get into the creative mind space; that is where I always am, really!
Thanks, Rosie! To see more of Rosie’s jewelry, stop into Eden or click here.