Friday, September 01, 2006

Now, Keep In Mind that I'm an Artist...

Erykah Badu's opening to "Call Tyrone" has been echoing in my head for some reason.

Lately, I have met quite a few people who make a living with their art, either in whole or in part. I find it very inspiring. Before I decided to go to Rutgers (RU!), I wanted to go to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) and become a clothing designer. I had a sewing machine, which I begged for from one of those fake sweepstake winner junk mail flyers, and altered my own clothes all the time. I drew pictures of all the outfits I wanted to make, and I made some of them. Following a pattern was a bit tough for me, as I always wanted to make things my own way. I started making my own patterns out of newspaper. My parents thought it more practical to study Biology, and so I did, but I never let go of my creative tendencies. For the record, I'm glad they strongly nudged me toward having something "to fall back on."

In my late teens and early 20's, I had a business called Plethora Designs. I called it Plethora because I made quite a few different things. I made wreaths, Christmas ornaments, magnets, tshirts, brooches, novelty pens, centerpieces, clay people, decorative towels with matching wastebaskets. I made so many things I can't remember it all.

Starting in high school, the first thing I made consistently was jewelry. Once I learned about seed beads, I couldn't stop making necklaces. I made the little seed bead necklaces, but then I started to incorporate other beads. Wooden beads, glass beads, plastic beads. Then I started using found materials to make jewelry. Rocks, paper, coat hangers. Yes, I said coat hangers. I started experimenting with a lot of different things, and started to sell and wear my work.

A few of my pendants. At the top is one I made with beads, hot glue and part of a coat hanger. On the right is a montage I made out of paper and wire. At the bottom is a tooth wrapped with wire, and at the left is part of another necklace someone gave me, wrapped in wire with beads.

1 of my 2 fork necklaces. I think it looks kind of like a scorpion.

My other fork necklace, and my favorite piece.

Gradually, life took hold and responsibilities took up the time I once spent creating artwork. But, as any creative person will tell you, at some point I had to take the time to create or face certain death.

With Naturally You!, I have had the opportunity to get creative in a hands on way a few times. In the very first electronic issue, I showed you how to create hair jewelry step by step. I made and wore that jewelry in my locs. In the fourth issue, my sister and I created wedding head pieces. Nope, haven't worn any of those yet. On a few separate occassions, I have created a one or two foot high Naturally You! head piece to wear at natural hair events. I will have to scan those photos in one day.

In the past couple of months, the need to create has struck again. When I first started making jewelry, I often bought necklaces at thrift stores or took jewelry that other people didn't want anymore and broke it for the beads. About a week ago, I discovered the jade necklace my mom had given me, broken in my jewelry box. Half of the beads were lying in the bottom of the box. I took that as a sign to start making jewelry again.

So here's what I made:

Jasper & Sterling Silver Beaded Earrings with Stainless Steel Hooks

Tigers Eye & Sterling Silver Bali Bead Earrings with Stainless Steel Hooks

Turquoise & Hematite Earrings with Stainless Steel Hooks

Theresa's Jade & Hematite Earrings with Stainless Steel Hooks

I am really enjoying working with semi-precious stones and sterling silver, but I still love found materials mixed with natural materials like rope, rocks, and leather. I've decided to refer to any rock I've found on the ground and used creatively as "River Rock."

River Rock on Jute with Ceramic Bead

Shout Outs to a few, and only a few, of the creative people who have inspired me:

Raquel Jackson is the sister behind the awesome jewelry featured in the Spring issue of Naturally You!. I love her work, and beyond that she is quick to talk up another person. She is not afraid to promote on someone elses behalf, and I often look up to find that she has forwarded my newsletter to a whole bunch of people, written down and passed along my info, or what have you. Contact her at

Jas Knight is an oil painter. He creates big, beautiful paintings. If you haven't already, you'll come across him one day.

Brother Yah Yah is one of my favorite people in the world. He is a sculptor, using driftwood as his medium. He is also a serious jewelry designer, and created the copper work that appeared in the Winter 04 issue of Naturally You!. Brother Yah Yah was the primary artist featured in the art exhibit, "The Power of Hair," presented by Naturally You! in 2004 (more on that later). Brother Yah Yah likes to keep it on the low, so you will have to contact me offline for his info.

Stefani Threet is a ceramic artist I met earlier this year. I don't know any other ceramic artists, and that in itself is special. Stefani creates vessels, platters, rattles, as well as utilitarian items like mugs and salt and pepper shakers. They are all hand built, painted, and carved. Contact Stefani at

Eric Battle is a bad a** (in his skill, not his demeanor) comic book artist. He has done work for both DC and Marvel, and has his own series of characters in the works, but you didn't hear that from me. He also does illustrations for the Vampire Huntress book series, if you're into Black female vampires with locs.

There are others, and you can bet I will tell you about them next time around!


Mahogany_Butterfly said...

I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now and it definitely sealed the deal in my decision to subscribe to the magazine. Finally after 2 years of no relaxer and 1 year of being completely natural. I really commend you for taking a big step in creating something new and I wish you and your staff all the best.

Monika Pegues said...

Hi, i'm an artist also. I love your work. Wow, it's awesome. My sister is into jewerly making also. :)

I just wanted to give you a shout out and tell you how much I love your work. Take care and be always blessed. :)

Aint Nothing But A She-Thang said...

How can someone purchase your jewlery???

Kaya Casper said...

Thanks so much ladies. My handmade jewelry is coming soon to - I'm excited! said...

I am very impressed and amazed by your talents. Also a few years ago I remember you starting your magazine and I'm very proud that you hung in there and it definitely looks like you are doing good. Keep up the good job my Virgo sister. Peace!!!