Tags: Arts & Culture

TFA Local Artist Highlight: Jade of Bitchin' Beads

Posted 03.14.16 by Aminda

The Tempe Festival of the Arts is right around the corner, and we couldn't be more excited! While there will be aritsts from all over the country joining us Downtown, there will be some of our very own Arizona locals showcasing their work as well. We hung out with a few of those local artists to give you a peek into what they do and how they do it. We will be sharing these interviews with you every Monday leading up to festival, so be sure to check back if you're like me and enjoy seeing artists in their natural habitat.

I felt peace as I pulled into the driveway sprinkled with toddler-sized tennis shoes and toys. It was the kind of comfort that you feel when visiting the home of a good friend, even though Jade, who up one half of the “Bitchin’ Beads” duo, and I had never met before.

With a giant smile and bright energy, Jade greeted me and quickly invited me into her home. Immediately I noticed a portion of the room sectioned off to the right of the entrance. It was filled with colorful, incense-looking sticks (which I was later informed are actually sticks of glass) and two large desks topped with interesting tools and trinkets.

It was one of those spaces that pulled you in immediately and just begged for you to sit down, get your hands dirty, and make stuff.

We chatted a bit about the family biz and her kiddos, and then she went on to demonstrate the entire bead-making process. I witnessed a stick that lived on a shelf morph into a beautiful piece of bead art solidifying in a kiln! I was in awe! I captured the process Jade takes to transform the glass into jewelry, and asked her a few questions to share with you all.

Downtown Tempe: Tell us what you do!

Jade: We are a mother-daughter team. We hand make glass beads using a torch which is fueled by oxygen and propane. We then melt sticks of glass into one-of-a-kind, amazing, wearable art! Angie [Jade's mother] has a studio in Calgary Canada, and I have a home studio here in North Scottsdale.

DT: How did you first get into bead making? Who had the idea? How did it become a mother-daughter business?

J: We have been at this since 2000. Another glass studio and I talked Angie into taking a bead making class. After dabbling in stained glass and rustic wood projects, I think her response was “I don’t need another fricken’ hobby”!  She ended up taking class, went back the next day to pick up the six little wonkey beads that she made, then rushed out to Home Depot to get what we needed to set up a little starter studio. We have been hooked ever since!

DT: I love that you two get to create art together! Especially living so far away from each other. What is your favorite part about working with family?

J: We really are so lucky! Not only to do something that we absolutely love every day, but to be able to work together and be inspired by each other. Having a partner that truly believes in you and loves what they do is such an amazing gift! We really can’t wait to see each other’s creations and bounce new ideas off one another!

DT: How does the idea start (as a sketch?), how long does it take you to complete one?

J: No sketches, we just freehand all of it! Sometimes it’s an order for a color combo, or we sit down with a set of beads in mind that we want to make. We really do dream about beads at night and what we are going to make the next day.

DT: What is your favorite part of the creation process?

J: We love to see the finished product when it is done and being able to wear it and share it with our amazing customers! We love hearing from our customers about how they gave a friend one of our pieces and how they cried when they received it, or how someone told us that wearing their beads gives them strength while battling cancer. We have so many amazing stories and feel connected to our customers because we put so much love and energy into our pieces! It is just so rewarding! Who gets to do that for people and do something they love at the same time?!

We even have had a customer whose house burnt down… weeks later they went to dig through what was left and all they found was one of our bracelets! That’s powerful stuff! There are many tears are shed in our studio! It’s like the best kind of therapy ever!

DT: Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry that you’ve made? If so, why is it your favorite?

J: I have only ever kept one piece that I made and it was a bracelet that I made for my wedding…Everything else we are happy to share! We do get to wear them and enjoy them most times before they find a home!

DT: Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry that you’ve made? If so, why is it your favorite?

J: I have only ever kept one piece that I made and it was a bracelet that I made for my wedding…Everything else we are happy to share! We do get to wear them and enjoy them most times before they find a home!

DT: What can we purchase from you at the Tempe Festival of the Arts?

J: You will find an amazing selection at the Festival of Arts. Earrings, bracelets, our signature heart pendants, interchangeable rings, and of course we take custom orders as well.

DT: What do you like to do when you’re not torching or participating in festivals?

J: Well, these days I don’t have a ton of free time. With twin boys that are 2 years old and a daughter that is 5, my torch time is limited to the later hours of the evening… but of course we love spending time as a family!

DT: What can we expect to see from you in the future? What are your future goals with your art?

J: We are just going to continue to be inspired by our amazing customers and our passion for creating new pieces!

DT: What is the best advice you could give to an aspiring artist of any medium?

J: Simple! LOVE WHAT YOU DO! The creativity will ooze out of you!!! Also a friend told us when we first started “If you don’t believe in yourself and what you do, then how is anyone else supposed to?”

DT: If you could live in any movie set, what movie would you choose?

J: Any movie that has beaches and drinks!

DT: What do you like best about the Tempe Festival of the Arts?

J: We love the amazing variety of artists from all over the world, and visiting with new friends and customers!

Bitchin’ Beads has been a part of the Tempe Festival of the Arts six years in a row now, make sure you stop by and see them at booth 5532!