Sara wanted to talk about how much beading and jewelry making has meant to her. She has discussed it in videos but wanted to explore it on a blog. She found beads as a young teenager. It became a part of her. I met Sara when she was around 18. I watched as her creative fire took hold. She joined Soft Flex Company shortly after I met her. It has been fun seeing her craft develop from basic designs to accomplished and professional pieces. She has had an amazing journey. She has instructed classes around the United States. She has done demonstrations all across the world. She has written books and discussed her passion on national television and radio programs.
You can find Sara's personal website here.
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Why do you love beading?
I noted on a previous blog that I started making jewelry sometime in late middle school or early high school. I found a bead store in downtown Billings, MT that fed my new found hobby. It is called the Bead Depot and unfortunately closed recently. When I moved to Tempe, Arizona at the age of 18, I quickly located Bead Galore. I may have even applied to work there, but never did. Within the following two years, I became friends with a girl whose mom was a well-known lampwork artist – Nancy Pilgrim. We met by chance, but at this point, I think it may be more closely described as destiny. Amber had taken a job with Soft Flex Company as the owners were friends with her mom. Eventually, she invited me to join her. Little did I know that I was embarking on a nearly 20 year (and counting) career with Soft Flex Company.
Over the years I have not lost my passion for beading, which I find somewhat incredible. At least 25 years of beading, and I still love it. Why is that?
1. There is so much to learn and I love to try new things! Jewelry making options are endless and there is always something new to learn. There are a zillion different bead stitches, braids, weaves, etc. It simply never gets boring because I can always try something new. Plus, people are always inventing new wires, tools and beads. Sometimes old tools are introduced into the industry and used in new and interesting ways. You will see my love of trying new things in the wide variety of designs that I create. One day, I might use a kumihimo disk. The next day, I might knit a beaded bracelet on a knitting spool. Last year, I wrote a book called Seed Bead Revolution. I showed how to use all of the new and innovative seed beads on the market with Soft Flex beading wire in projects that could be done in one sitting. I love to test out new products.
Authors Sara Oehler and Kristen Fagan wrote this book to show how these new and innovative beads can be used to create jewelry using Soft Flex beading wire rather than thread or cord. The projects are easy to intermediate, but they are unique enough to capture the interest of even the most advanced beader. Most projects can be completed in one sitting.
2. I love the beading community and my Soft Flex family. Over the years, I have made a long list of wonderful and talented friends who live around the world. Many of these people are inspiring and motivate me to work hard and create freely. Now with facebook and instagram, I can keep up with all of them even though I see them less and less in person. I have worked with some of my co-workers for 15 years. At this point, we’ve been through it all – baby births, weddings, death of parents, injuries. Many of them definitely feel more like family than just co-workers. Recently, we have created a new community in our Facebook VIB Group. I am amazed by how supportive all of the members are of each other as they share their designs using Soft Flex beading wire, kits, live sale beads and more. If you have joined yet, you should definitely check it out. I find so much inspiration there on a daily basis.
3. Beads have been around for at least 40,000 years and I feel connected to history and the entire world when I bead. Robert Lieu noted in The History of Beads, "Beads were probably the first durable ornaments humans possessed, and the intimate relationship they had to their owners is reflected in the fact that they are among the most common items unearthed from ancient graves." Isn't that amazing to think about? I am continuing a tradition that dates back not just thousands of years but tens of thousands of years. I love that I am adding my little perspective to that long history. I also feel like beading interconnects us worldwide. You’d be hard pressed to find a culture that doesn’t use beads in some way. We have customers all over the world. It is so much fun to see our wire ship out far and wide and know that even though the recipient may not speak the same language as us, they are using the wire to create just like any one of us. We used to do a show in Tucson that was in a big tent. I often talk about how if you did a 360 degree turn in our booth, our booth neighbors were from Afghanistan, Africa, China, Germany, India and Russia. It was an amazing experience to spend a few weeks a year learning about how so many different cultures made and used beads. I also enjoyed their music, food and general culture too.
I feel so fortunate that I found beading (or that beading found me). No matter how you look at it, beading has provided so much for me through the years and I know that it will be a part of my life for the rest of my life. I look forward to teaching my two young daughters how to bead and watching them explore beading in ways that I cannot even imagine at this moment. This year, we beaded bracelets for their preschool teachers. It is only the beginning!
So, why do you love beading?
Join our Facebook group – VIB. Stay in the know. Stay up to date. From our bead shows to our video shows and sales, you can stay in touch with us. The community is full of artistic and helpful beaders and crafty people. Inspire and be inspired. Share your pictures and get the beading bug from others!
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Sara Oehler (pronounced Ay-ler) is a well-known jewelry designer living in the Bay Area. Sara is the author of several beading books, including her latest title, written with Kristen Fagan, Seed Bead Revolution. She has designed and written for numerous publications including: BeadStyle, Bead&Button, Bead Trends, Stringing, Jewelry in Fashion Trends, Simply Beads, The Flow and Today's Creative Home Arts. Currently, Sara is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Soft Flex Company.
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