Credit Union executive loves creating wearable art

Published 8:47 am Monday, February 16, 2015

LS0215 FEATURE Jewelry Lady I

“I just love doing this.”

Kathy Campbell’s excitement is obvious as she talks about her favorite past time – jewelry making.

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Most people know Campbell as the executive officer for Northeast Community Credit Union, but in her spare time she likes to retreat to her backyard workshop and unleash her inner creativity.

Campbell has been making jewelry for about 10 years. She got her start when a friend came over to her house and taught her the basics of the craft, she said. From there the love for the hobby was born and it “took over” Campbell’s free time.

In her workshop, Campbell mostly makes jewelry, but she “dabbles” in a little bit of everything. The workshop displays her wide array of interests; beads, wire, glitter and clay line the walls, arranged in colorful displays that almost seem like art themselves.

“It just grows on you,” she said, sitting down at her workbench. “I started with beading and went to working with gemstones. Then I wanted to learn wire-wrapping and paper beads. There’s so many different things to learn and try, you never get bored.”

One of Campbell’s favorite mediums is polymer clay. It is a medium, that when used to create a finished project, leads some to question what the item is really made of. Is it beading? Gemstones? What exactly is the jewelry made of?

Campbell taught herself all about crafting with polymer clay using a tutorial video she found on YouTube.

“This is a very fun type of craft,” Campbell said. “I mix my own clay and I can make my own beads out of any color. I can stamp it or shape it. I can make anything I want. I love it because I can make it look like whatever I want to.”

And she has made just about anything she can think of with the clay. She has made the traditional jewelry items, such as rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces. But she has also used it to create ink pens, bottle openers, kitchen utensils, trivets for hot pots and “wall pockets” – storage cubbies that hang on the wall.

One of the benefits of polymer clay is that is does not dry out until it is baked, Campbell said. When the clay is pressed together to blend colors, or to make parts for jewelry, the polymers in the clay are released.

“That keeps it soft and moldable until you are sure you are finished with it,” she said. “It will stay soft until I bake it in the kiln.”

Jewelry making is especially beneficial for jewelry lovers such as herself, Campbell said.

“When I have a new outfit, I can look at it and make something that goes exactly with it,” she said. “Sometimes you can look and not find exactly what you want, but this way you can make it the colors you want and the style you want.”

Campbell still owns every piece of jewelry she has had in her life, she said. The amount of jewelry she has made and supplies needed for her hobby became so large she had to add the workshop to house her collection.

Because she found it impossible to keep everything she makes, Campbell sells her jewelry at a few locations around town, including the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce and Dr. Estill “Lee” Miller’s dental office at 1213 West G St. She said she is open to other consignment opportunities.

“I don’t do this for the money,” she said. “I do this for the pure enjoyment of it and for the ability to create.”

Campbell enjoys sharing the jewelry making process with others, and said she would love to host lessons for people who want to learn about the process. Her goal, after her future retirement, is to host jewelry parties for birthdays, weddings or other special occasions.

“If someone else can catch the creative spirit, that is what matters,” she said.

For more information, contact Campbell at 647-1555.