Artisan Feature – Gloria Beachey of Glori Bee Jewelry

In our community, we believe that shared experiences and genuine connections foster not only artistic growth but also the strength to navigate the complexities of being a business owner. As we embark on this collective journey, the makers we feature exemplify a remarkable quality we hold dear – GRIT.

Today, we are privileged to introduce Gloria Beachey of Glori Bee Jewelry. Gloria’s path, much like others in our community, reflects the tenacity required to thrive creatively and succeed as a business owner.

Join us as Gloria shares her story, unraveling the threads of her creative journey and the unique challenges she faces as an artist, all while embracing the beauty of the Earth in each delicate piece of Glori Bee Jewelry.

Interview Questions:

Early Inspiration

Becky: Can you share a specific memory or moment from your childhood when your fascination with the small details of nature began to shape your creative perspective?

Gloria: Growing up in Oklahoma in the fifties in a family that didn’t have a lot of money made it necessary to learn to live creatively. And that’s what we did. I knew other people had more money, but I didn’t feel poor. Both my parents appreciated the beauty of nature which in turn instilled that love in me. We lived in a rural wooded area and I was allowed to roam it freely. There I became fascinated with small ferns, a variety of mosses, tiny wildflowers, interesting insects and other small bits of the world. People often ask me how I find such small things for my jewelry. I believe it comes from having spent time noticing the details surrounding me when I was young.

My mother and aunts taught us embroidery and sewing, including making quilts. Once I learned the skills, I wanted to make my own designs rather than following a given pattern. This also contributed to a sense of what looks good, and what’s not quite right.

I earned a degree in nursing and later a degree in adult basic education, but always continued with various hobbies to fill my need to create. In around 2002 I went to a bead shop to buy some supplies for making angel pins which were popular then. A whole new world opened up to me. I learned how to make necklaces and earrings with natural stones and glass beads with generous accents of sterling silver. My designs were popular, but the cost of the materials made them relatively expensive. After my husband and I moved from San Antonio, Texas to rural Southeast Kentucky the market just wasn’t there, though I did have a few dedicated customers that recognized the value of my creations.

Crafting Background

Becky: With your background in embroidery and sewing, how do these traditional craft skills impact your contemporary jewelry creations, especially in the intricate work you do with real flowers and plants?

Gloria: Foremost, embroidery helped me develop an eye for design. I soon noticed that the designs I liked best included a focal item, usually a flower, but what made an impact were all the little details like the leaves and surrounding small flowers that served supporting roles and added a richness to the overall design. Both embroidery and quilt work helped shape my love of working on a small scale. I made miniature quilts, some as small as 5” x 7” and 8” x 10”. I also enjoyed making intricate clothing for children usually adding embroidery embellishments.

Shift to Resin

Becky: You mentioned a transition from making jewelry with natural stones to embedding organics in resin after watching one of my tutorials in 2016. Can you share the moment you knew this was the direction for your craft?

Gloria: I loved the look of the finished resin products from the beginning even with all the flaws. The flowers and plants looked so fresh and natural. The reaction of people I showed them to was overwhelmingly positive. What I loved most was hearing, “I’ve never seen anything like that before!” I still get that.

When I took my jewelry to local craft shows the difference in response between the organics in resin and the beaded pieces was astounding. The crowd around my booth was now compared to a feeding frenzy. People started telling others to go to the flower lady’s booth. No turning back after that.

Materials Selection and Preservation

Becky: As a maker of quality jewelry from real flowers and plants, can you describe your process for selecting and preserving these materials?

Gloria: The initial consideration is the size. That includes assessing even large flowers and plants for small parts that can be incorporated into a design. The awareness that I’m not limited to small flowers expanded my possibilities. Now, instead of ignoring larger blossoms or greenery I take the time to look closely at their components. Color is another factor. A beautiful red flower may dry black which works sometimes, but probably not. Some flowers have too high a water content and dry to almost nothing, with resin making them too transparent.

Silica gel is my go-to drying agent. If the flower or leaf wouldn’t be easily covered in resin, I press it in a flower press for little while, 1-2 hours if delicate, longer for sturdy things like ferns, then place them in silica gel to preserve the color.

Design Process

Becky: How do you approach the design process for your jewelry pieces? Do you have a specific creative routine or method?

Gloria: For many pieces a favorite pattern has evolved over the years—first a fern, then the main flower, then any tiny detail accents. Occasionally I’ll study a flower or greenery and it seems to call for something completely different. Those often incubate in my subconscious until I can visualize its unique design elements. They don’t all turn out good though.

Favorite Piece

Becky: Do you have a personal favorite piece that holds a special significance to you? If so, could you share the story behind it and describe the elements that make it particularly meaningful?

Gloria: Actually, I have two favorite pieces, both based on the large open frame hoops. The first one is the pond scene with the flying creature, reeds, stick and water. It reminds me of times I sat by a pond back in the woods and watched delicate scenes like this. It also was a learning experience for me, figuring out how to get all the elements in the right places at the right time.

The other one is the large green circle with the mushroom and fern in a square within the hoop. I loved the tiny size of the mushroom and the perfect curl of the fern. The dirt hanging on the mushroom lent authenticity. I have a tendency toward perfectionism (but sooo much time) so I duplicated the hoop and the square in my drawing program, made sure they were exactly centered, then printed it out. I taped down the packing tape over that paper then placed the ring and square in place on the packing tape then filled in the background resin. After the mushroom and fern were in place, the green outer circle looked boring so I added small curvy pieces of silver mound foliage to the first clear layer. And it turned out pretty much better than I had hoped. I also made a similar one with a circle in the center.

Challenges in Running Your Business

Becky: Considering the unique path you’ve traveled; can you reflect on some of the notable challenges you’ve encountered in running your jewelry business?

Gloria: In addition to the usual challenges we all face when starting a business, I have the unique challenge of being paraplegic due to a fall in 2013. This business suited my remaining capabilities well except for one major thing—photography. I was not able to stage photos the way I wanted to, I couldn’t get close because of my wheelchair, and the number of angles I could shoot from was very limited. Outdoor photography wasn’t going to happen. Fortunately one of my friends introduced me to a professional photographer friend of hers. On hearing my frustration he said he knew exactly what I needed and he would help me find the right equipment and teach me how to use it. What a godsend. I’m forever grateful to him. I still work with limitations, but I try to make the most of what I am able to do.

Advice for New Makers

Becky: With a diverse crafting background, what advice would you give to someone starting their jewelry-making journey, especially with natural materials?

Gloria: Be persistent. Learn everything you can to discover what works best for you. I watched all Becky’s tutorials and attended her online classes, trying to soak up all the help available to me. In addition to techniques, I learned business savvy from her. Many important things hadn’t crossed my mind, like branding, goals, and reflection. When I saw some of the beautiful products she showed in the classes, I really wanted to add them to my line. However, she taught me to find a niche and stay focused. That has become one of my guiding principles. If it doesn’t have organics, it can be a gift, but doesn’t go in my product line.

Main Venue for Selling

Becky: Can you tell us about your main venue for selling your jewelry and how you’ve navigated the challenges and successes associated with it?

Gloria: Whew! I started on Etsy in December 2016. That was such a challenge because of the photography and the steep learning curve of making listings. Again, I read a lot. I also wasted a lot of money on how-to courses, before making the right connections and finding my comfortable spot.

Meanwhile, with a lot of encouragement from my husband and some friends I ventured into the art and craft fair markets. My husband is super supportive and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without his help. He also has learned how to be an active seller with me in these markets. They have become my major source of income. Plus I love the instant affirmation.

Balance Between Creativity and Operations

Becky: With so many aspects of the business to oversee, how do you maintain a balance between the creative aspects of jewelry making and the operational aspects of running a business?

Gloria: Frankly, I don’t think I do this very well. Don’t all of us makers prefer to create and wish we could leave the operations to someone else? Let’s just say I do what I need to in order to keep the business going.

Philosophy and Message

Becky: The philosophy behind Glori Bee Jewelry is about appreciating the tiny, the natural, and the beauty of the earth. How do you hope your creations resonate with people, and what message do you aim to convey through your jewelry?

Gloria: I feel so gratified when return customers tell me that they now notice the small things in nature much more than before seeing my work. That is something that requires people to slow down. Sometimes nature is right in front of us in the landscaping around businesses in addition to parks and other natural places. In that way people can feel a connection to the earth even in their hurrying even if just for a few minutes and the world seems friendlier, less stressful.

Creativity and Motivation

Becky: How do you stay creative and motivated during challenging times in your business?
Do you have any specific habits or practices that help you stay creative on a regular basis?

Gloria: Sometimes my creativity gets stifled by routine health issues. It suffered greatly during the pandemic. If I’m having trouble getting motivated the best thing I can do is start reorganizing my dried flowers and plants. Then I start thinking of all the designs that floated through my head as I was growing or harvesting them. Occasionally that process takes a few days but eventually I get excited again and start working like a mad scientist.

Nunn Design Findings

Becky: You use a lot of Nunn Design Jewelry Findings in your work. How did you come to discover Nunn Design, and why do you trust your jewelry to our products?

Gloria: Before “meeting resin” I purchased beads, findings, etc. at bead stores and bead shows and later from online stores. It was the online stores that introduced me to Nunn Designs and organics in resin. Nunn Designs has so many unique shapes and nice variations on the usual geometric ones. Then there’s the quality. Sometimes I would run across a different bezel or frame and think it would work for me. And the shape or size would work, but the quality was so shoddy that I felt apologetic for selling them even though customers weren’t so discriminating. There’s only one other company that I find meets Nunn Design standards, but I can’t afford most of their work and they don’t offer wholesale to small businesses. And nobody, but nobody offers the support and encouragement I get at Nunn Design. Thank you, Becky.

Thank you, Gloria, for taking the time to inspire us!

To discover more stories about makers who choose to trust their jewelry to Nunn Design Findings, explore our Artisan Feature section on the Nunn Design Blog or visit our Meet the Maker page on our website.

To view more of Gloria’s captivating creations, visit her on Etsy at: Glori Bee Jewelry Etsy.
Follow and support Gloria on Instagram at: @GloriBeeJewelry.

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