North Carolina’s Kathy King hand sews thousands of tiny glass beads to construct her intricate and innovative jewelry.
The artist: King grew up on Long Island, NY, and earned her industrial engineering degree from Lehigh University in 1991. She served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force after school and moved to Cary, NC, in 1996 to marry her college sweetheart. She started making jewelry for fun in the early 90s, and took a bead weaving class in 1999.
The company: Kathy King Jewelry, started selling at local shows in 2000. King branched out more in 2010, when her children were older. In addition to creating her jewelry, King also teaches beading classes.
The goods & materials: Wearable pieces of beaded art (necklaces, head pieces, earrings, bracelets, pins) but she recently started playing more with beaded sculptures.
What’s popular: Beaded bead necklaces ($250 to $1,200) and bead earrings ($45 to $125).
Other favorites: 3D structural necklaces ($400 to $800).
Design styles. Two. The beaded bead designs and her bead quilled designs, a beading technique she invented
“I love the texture I can get with the beaded beads,” she said. “While the bead quilling allows me to be more structural and play with 3D shapes.
How do the techniques differ: In the innovative bead weaving technique called “Bead Quilling,” the holes of the glass beads and thread are exposed, allowing the thread color to become an integral part of the final design.
In the “Beaded Bead” technique, King creates intricate beads by weaving hundreds of smaller glass beads together.
Inspiration: Cultural design books from around the world for interesting shapes and color combinations.
Fun requests: Fashion shoots with a local designer HausPage (hauspage.com) and photographers.
Big break: Approached to write a book on her new beading technique in 2008 by a publisher after having a project featured on the cover of a beading magazine. The book, Bead Quilled Jewelry, came out in 2010.
Claim to fame: Her distinctive style.
Awards/honors: Several awards over the years, but most recent honor: participation in the Smithsonian Craft & Design Show.
What’s next: More large-scale wearable pieces and hopefully a collaboration with fashion designers.
Where to buy: At Artful Home (artfulhome.com) for completed pieces. For kits and instructions, check her Etsy shop (KathyKingJewelryShop).
King also has a studio in downtown Raleigh at Artspace, open to the public Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Get social at: kathykingjewelry on facebook and Instagram