Welcome to our B.O.C. blog. Learn about the world of handcrafted ceramic beads, buttons, pendants & components from our talented and knowledgeable Artisans.

STYLIN' SUNDAY...

A PEEK INTO THE MINDS OF ARTISTS WHO CREATE WITH BEADS-OF-CLAY...

The weeks artist is Lu Lanouette-Behrman.  I've shared many, many emails with Lu and find her to be an incredible woman.  Sometimes when I take what an interviewee gives to me, I turn it into a little introduction. Sometimes it lends itself to sharing it with you as it was with me.  Enjoy...
As a child my family was always moving to another town or state as my dad was a petroleum engineer and wherever his company sent him, that’s where we went.  My siblings and I were always the new kids on the block since we lived in about 10 different places before junior high age. So, I had a unique start in learning how to make friends and dealing with different personalities and cultures which has proven to be of great value to me throughout my life.   I was correction secretary to the jail commander of a large county jail, and then was office manager for an education program here in San Diego where both places I dealt with MANY diverse personalities/cultures.  I’ve been married for 38 yrs and have two gorgeous kids, both married—no grandkids yet just granddogs.  I consider MT my home as I was born there, 3rd generation, and finished school there.  I went to school in UT after high school and that’s where I met my husband (we’re just a couple of old hippies).  I lived in UT for 15 yrs before moving to CA. During the past four decades we’ve hiked and explored the gorgeous country of southern UT.  And oh yeah… I LOVE DOGS!!  I have one that looks almost identical to adorable little Mikito (except he has eyes J).

*For those wondering what Lu means about Mikito (my dog), he has just had to have his eyes removed due to an illness.  He amazes me every day with how he has come back from what I thought was going to be the end of him.  After this, if you are interested, check out my blog to learn a little more about his story.

Also...stop by Lu's Etsy Shop.....I think you will be impressed with the styles and her VERY FAIR pricing!

First of all, I would like to know a little bit more about your love of stones. I read that you used to go agate and arrowhead hunting with your family.
Could you tell us more about that?

A lot of the places I lived as a child was way out in the boonies….so we spent a great deal of time in the outdoors—camping in the wilderness being our favorite thing to do. So I grew up with a huge love of nature. We would collect the beautiful river rocks from the incredibly clear little streams in the MT, WY and CO mtns, and go on long hikes out in the middle of nowhere in western WY (approx. 60 mi. east of Yellowstone Park where we lived for four yrs), and along the way found beautiful agates and lots of arrowheads (the land was pretty much ‘untouched’ back then). Also growing up we’d hit all the local rock and mineral shows—my dad was also a geologist and that might have had something to do with my curiosity and love of rocks—of course when I got older I just naturally gravitated to the more expensive kinds.

How did you get started with your jewelry business? Was it a surplus of jewelry or something that you thought you would want to do right from the beginning? 

I started it out of sheer need of distraction after being told my cancer had returned after three yrs, and also right after my husband suffered a stroke this past January. I always gave my stuff away to friends and relatives, but then I began beading furiously and yes, you might say I had a ‘slight’ surplus and needed to get rid of it.

I know that you are fairly new to selling online. How has that experience been so far and what (if anything) have you learned through this venture?

Well…a little bit interesting and a whole lotta frustration. Seriously, I believe I started way too late—Etsy is soooo huge and like anything else (especially nowadays)--if you want it you’ve got to work for it--meaning you need a whole lot of time and energy to do the ‘connecting’ with other vendors along with the blogging thing and Facebook and all the incredible ways we have to communicate nowadays. And frankly I just don’t have the energy to create my own blog, facebook or website since I’m fighting this cancer; however, I think it would be a blast to have a blog.


On the other hand, it’s been a blessing and has helped me get through some really difficult times. It’s given me a venue to release the creative energy (and stress) in me and that’s a GOOD thing. And I’ve met some really nice people. I’ve also been introduced to really cool mix media, which is new to me and has given me even more incentive to further express my creative spirit.

When using ceramic beads/pendants in your designs, what it is that you like about them that makes them different from other beads?

Hmmm…I’m really not sure. They are definitely versatile in how they can be used. I see individual pieces I like so I buy, and end up using them at some point. I love the look of a well-made ceramic piece, and I am finding that a lot of people do also. I get a lot of compliments and requests from friends and relatives and sometimes strangers.

Ceramic beads/pendants are also a challenge for me, which I very much enjoy. Also I remember how much fun it was to play with clay in art class and always LOVED it, so to see such beautiful stuff that people are making…well, I wish I knew how! That’s it--ceramics are just plain FUN! –to work with and to look at.
 
Are there certain pieces of jewelry and/or colors that you like to create more than others? Is it difficult for you to work with certain colors?

My favorite pieces are necklaces, but I’m getting into bracelets more and more since I’ve had so many requests from friends lately. Beading is getting to be a lot more fun with all the new mixed media stuff out there that allows one to experiment and add uniqueness to their work—in the past it was either sterling silver or gold-fill and the same old mass produced pendants and charms. I absolutely love the look and just the idea that what I am using is handmade.

Being a color freak, I love all colors and I enjoy combining and experimenting with color. You ceramic folk must have a blast with it, eh?

Do you often have a plan in mind when you sit down to create something or are you like me as just wing it, take it apart, wing it for round two, etc.?

I usually NEVER have a plan…I buy what I like and it eventually just all comes together at some point. I’ll put a few pieces out and every time I pass my bead room I’ll check it out and add or subtract or scrap. I keep my beads and supplies in plain view so I don’t forget what I have. There are some pieces I have for a long time and then one day I’m playing with a few beads and Voila!—it finally comes together to my satisfaction. I seem to be more creative in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. And yes, once in awhile I take it all apart, even after wearing it for years—and make it new.

I ask this question all the time. Most artists don't like the business end of this. What is your favorite part of this business and what is it that you like the least about it?

I HATE all business stuff—researching and worrying about sales tax and legalities is pure boredom and a big hassle to me! (I always forget to pay my Etsy bill.) But it was really fun setting up my shop and learning to take decent pictures and trying to be creative about it. I also enjoy being able to do everything from my home now that I’m retired.

  
Are there other venues that you sell at other than Etsy? Is so, could you tell us a little about that? If not, do you think that there might be in the future?

I was just invited to do a church bizarre and they found me through Etsy. My nieces have invited me to hit a few big fairs with them in CO but it’s never happened. Maybe someday…there are tons of venues here in San Diego County. I just need to get serious about it I guess. My friends purchase a lot from me, and I am guilty of giving many of my pieces away.

Lastly, would you please share something of your choice with our readers.

My bead room is my sanctuary. At times it has literally ‘saved my life’. You see, besides the cancer and my husband’s stroke, I’ve suffered from severe arthritis and fibromayalgia for many years (I’m 59 with the spine of an 85-yr-old says my neurosurgeon). Just doing this interview at my computer hurts, but it has been so much fun—took my mind off the pain for a little while.

I love my bead room even though it’s just a big organized mess—unless there’s a sizable earthquake that is. That’s when my bead towers come a tumblin’ down, and then the mess is no longer organized. Ack!!

I want to sincerely thank all the incredible ceramic artists out there—you do more than you realize—you make people like me happy. I seriously suggest to those who need distraction in their lives—beading can be an excellent pain reliever. And there’s just something about working with ceramic pieces that makes one happy.

10 comments:

  1. Lu...I love the way you have incorporated buttons into many of your pieces...I love buttons and am always trying new ways to include them into my work. I love your color choices and combinations.
    A big hug to you..I am also a cancer survivor... Your work is a wonderful way to keep your mind focused in a bright and exciting direction!

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  2. I loved getting to know you Lu!
    ****Hugs****
    -Kristie

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  3. very impressive blog !Keep up the good work !

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  4. I think I have the coolest Mother in Law ever! :-p Love you Lu, interview was great, and your pics looked wonderful!

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  5. I love my sis's bead work! I admire her soooo much... she is truly the strongest person I know and a great inspiration!
    Love you sis and good job!

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  6. Great interview and amazing pics! Lu, I use your fabulous beaded bookmarks ALL THE TIME.
    Hearth Cricket

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  7. Loved reading this interview Mom! The pics look awesome and it was inspiring. :)

    Luv ya!

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  8. Your bead work is always an artistic inspiration. Such a pleasure to know how great of a therapy it can be for you. Luv you Aunt Lu! *Lacey

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  9. Lu~~~~I obviously love your work, it's inspiring.
    Just take one day at a Time~~~

    Love ya~~Tamera C.

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  10. What a great interview MaryAnn. I am a little late getting to it. I love the way Lu works with ceramic beads and buttons and her courage in the face of pain and illness. thanks to both of you Lu and MaryAnn for sharing such a wonderful story about the joy of working with ceramic beads.

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