About Kathe Reed's Beads
Kathe Reed Nelson
I was always fascinated with jewelry designers who had extensive knowledge of semi precious stones. I wanted to know more. At festivals I met many interesting and creative people. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. On a trip to Austin, TX, I bought my first stones at an African Street Fair. To learn more about those trade beads I went to the Smithville Library where I read everything they had about jewelry making and the stones it was made from. The librarian called UT Knoxville and borrowed reference books so I could learn more.
At that point I began to carefully use my precious and historical beads. They had so much history and allure. They came from exotic places. Places I dreamed about going. Some of the history of trade beads is not pretty. But I learned facts about African countries which used beads as their basis of commerce. A few countries used trade beads as late as the mid nineteen fifties to purchase commodities such as grain.
As my stash of trade beads began to dwindle I searched for other sources of beads. I discovered gem shows. I began my jewelry career at art and craft shows. Somewhere along this path I realized I needed more formal training. I signed up for basic silver classes at the Appalachian Center for Crafts here in Smithville. I learned to set stones, and solder silver. I learned the basics and then began to refine my skills. I soon discovered that my interest was more in the stones and beads. I wanted to learn more about where they came from and about the healing properties of stones.
I developed an eye for proportion and symmetry. I found that I could be inventive and imaginative. I discovered that my customers like to know the history of the stones, where they come from, what are their healing properties, and other interesting tidbits.
I taught my sister in law to make jewelry. She and her husband live in JayEm, WY. They started a jewelry business of their own. As our skills grew, we shared our ideas with each other. In the winter months they travel south in search of warmer weather. Eventually, the four of us went to Tucson, AZ to the Gem and Mineral show which is held every year in February. This year was our 8th year to go there to buy our gem stones for the coming year.
Bryan is a retired Manufacturing Engineer. He originally studied to be an Industrial Arts Teacher, but in 1968 Uncle Sam pointed his finger at him and after a four year hitch in the USAF his plans changed. He has always been interested in "working with his hands". He has enjoyed woodworking, furniture restoration, antique auto restoration, stained (leaded) glass, and now, making chainmaille and woven wire jewelry.
He learned to make chainmaille from his brother and, eventually, they both learned the art of wire weaving. Bryan joined his wife, as an artist, eight years ago. Today, Bryan and Kathe work as a team, in creating one of a kind wearable art.