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CERAMICS IN STYLE...by MaryAnn Carroll

Gaea Cannaday

Today I am sharing the interview that I had with the very fun, creative and unique ceramic bead and jewelry designer Gaea Cannaday.  Although a significant part of her business is ceramic beads and pendants, today's questions focus on the funky jewelry that she creates.  I think you will agree that the answers to the questions definitely give you insight into this artist's thinking. 

Where Does the Name Gaea Come From?

Would you believe that Gaea is my actual name, the one mom gave me?!  Gaea is the greek goddess of mother earth, and seems fairly appropriate for a gal who works with clay, No?

How long have you been making ceramic beads/jewelry?

I've been working with clay since grade school but really fell in love with it in college! Throwing pots and decorating them was consuming for me! The beads really spun off of that love of decorating of the pots, plus I've always had a deep, deep love of jewelry! I'll blame that obsession on my mom! She's enjoys beading and jewelry as well! I really started focusing on jewelry and clay beads in 2001, after my first child. At the time my job went through big cut backs and layoffs so that gave me the opportunity and drive to focus all of my energy on what I loved!
When making jewelry, are there certain colors that you tend to gravitate to?

Earthy colors seem to come naturally to the clay but I really like working with odd ball color combo's as well as brights. Things that are unexpected like blue and orange. It really depends on my mood or what I've been inspired by. An early morning sunrise with puffy purply grey clouds and a hot pink sky would easily find their way into my design. We had a T.V. that was on the fritz and would throw out these really funky colors. I just loved that and almost hated replacing that set! That was fun to play around with! Today we were out driving around and I saw the most amazingly bright poppies growing on the side of the road near a funky old rock wall, which I am sure will make their way into my designs. I try to push myself away from what is comfortable and explore different ideas. It can be fun to wallow in what is comfortable too, even that has it's place and can lead to new ideas. Sometimes letting a design really play its way out is the only way to move forward.
I notice that your jewelry ranges from use of hearts and flowers to skulls (Day of the Dead)? Could you tell me a little more about that?

I've always had a fondness for hearts and even found my sticker collection from grade school that was made up of mostly heart stickers! That started really early! I even have my first strung jewelry piece that was a red heart pendant with a pink rose, strung on pink thread. I vividly remember making that when I was about 6. The Day of the Dead pieces were inspired by a piece of fabric that a friend had with dancing skulls and flowers and was just so fun and kooky! I've been in love with the visuals of the Day of the Dead ever since! It's even been good therapy for me after my grandmother died last year, I put that loss into creative energy and came out with some really interesting Day of the Dead designs.
With all of the different kinds of jewelry that you make, earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets, is there one that you like to do over the others?

I tend to focus on necklaces more than the others. There seems to be more space to work with and I like to take my time with them. It's also fun to have a story behind the design. There is just something lovely about wearing a necklace too.
Your work has been featured in magazines. Could you share with the readers how you go about getting your work made more public?

For me it is finding the right publication. The one that really suits your style and you suit theirs. I've contacted a few magazines that didn't bother to reply to my inquiry so I just assume that our styles don't work together. The magazines I've worked with could not have made the process more lovely and professional and I've been really lucky to have invitations extended by those publishers! Remember to thank your editor! They are the most creative people! My first real job was working as an art director for a magazine, so I've seen first hand what an editor does to get a magazine published. It is a lot of hard work and creative decisions. Thank them! They work hard and have been gracious enough to invite you into their world! They are always looking for new and fresh ideas, dip your toe in! All it takes is a polite email to inquire. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

I know that you sell online, but do you also include your work in shows?

I just did my first show this year, an earth day event that was really great! Lot's of families and kids! I usually do about 3-4 local events a year but focus on my web site and etsy most of the year so I can be at home with my family!

Lastly, what is your favorite and least favorite parts of the process?

I HATE the book keeping, number crunching, office work end of it, the rest is just divine!   Throw me in a big pile of clay and I'm a happy girl!

 GUESS THAT LAST STATEMENT SAYS IT ALL! If you would like to know more about Gaea...follow her blog!



  1. Wonderful interview with a super ceramic bead artist and jewelry designer. Love all the detail about how she got started and what she loves best.

  2. I LOVE Gaea's work! Glad to see her here!

  3. Great interview and nice knowing a little more about Gaea. Her work is always beautiful!

  4. Thanks for the opportunity to share! And the kind words...


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