Where are you originally from, and how long have you lived in this area?
Encinitas, California. I've lived in Eugene for 16 years.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Southern California. When I was 18, I went to the San Francisco Art Institute for two years, then I moved seasonally between Mammoth Mountain and Encinitas for three years. This was followed by much more moving and traveling until I ended up in Eugene. I've been to all 50 states, and I've recently come out of the closet as a dog person. I graduated from UO with degrees in Art History and Religious Studies. I'm a workaholic, but I'm also good at being on vacation.
When and why did you start beading?
I've always been crafty. Every summer our family would take these long trips throughout the US, and we went to a lot of Native American museums, which inspired me to make my Barbies Native-style rug looms and beaded ammunition pouches.
What are your favorite beads, stringing materials, etc?
Right now, I'm using a lot of quartz and interestingly shaped Czech glass. I've been using a lot of vintage poker chips, antique sterling salt-and-pepper shakers, and old blown radio tubes. I wire twist a lot, because I like the old rosary look. I also use Soft Flex and Stringth.
Tell us about your beading and other creative pursuits.
I make found-object jewelry. I like to camouflage the unexpected into something elegant. I also play the accordion, and I love to work in my garden.
What are your beading habits and space like?
I'm a late-night beader, usually between 9PM to 2AM. I'm a total workaholic, so I fit it in whenever I can. My beading area always looks like a tornado ripped through it, but it helps fuel my inspiration. I like to either listen to books on CD or watch movies that I'm familiar with already, so I don't have to pay complete attention. I have three daylight bulbs that surround my bead desk.
What inspires you as an artist?
My dog snoring. Literally, everything. I see inspiration simply as a life force.
How do you learn new techniques?
I love going to art retreats and transferring ideas to jewelry. I love taking classes. I learn some basics from books and beading magazines. Recently, I learned from a book how to make a mold to fill with reinforced plaster; and you can then use the plaster figure in your jewelry.
What’s your personal style?
I like simple jewelry, but the stuff I make is much more complex.
What brought you to Harlequin, and what is your connection with the store?
I wanted to work here so badly, and I remember freaking out when I got the call that I got the job. I had a crisis and didn't call back right away, because I didn't think I was cool enough to work here. That was 13 years ago.
Tell us about a couple of your favorite pieces.
They are all my favorites for at least awhile.
Are your creations available for purchase?
Yes, under the name Sunny Asylum Designs at my Eugene Saturday Market booth; Harlequin Beads & Jewelry store; Nest in Eugene; The Crafty Underdog Store in Portland; Otherside Ink in Florida; Oregon Country Fair in Veneta; Clackamas Lavender Festival in Clackamas County. Every year I sell supplies and jewelry at Art Is You in Petaluma, California. Plus, I do lots of little shows all over Oregon and Washington. You can also find my creations online at my Sunny Asylum Designs Etsy shop.
What would you tell someone who is just getting started?
Don't let other people discourage you. If you want to make something into a necklace, and someone tells you it's too big, see that as a challenge.