Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Featured Artist: Bonnie Lee of the FamiLee Jewels

The FamiLee Jewels At The Warehouse 20 Learned Street, Albany , NY 12020 (weekends)

Bonnie has a very eclectic style; she claims that she will use anything she can get her hands on to get her imagination working. She says, "My greatest love is wire wrapping; big bold pieces made from fossils, gemstones and various beads. My latest work showcases salvaged vintage jewelry as well as architectural hardware pieces. I take them apart and pair the pieces with wire and stones that complement the lovely aged patinas. Some of my favorite finds are broken rhinestone brooches, antique trunk hardware, and chandelier prisms."

She caught the jewelry making bug at a three hour bead stringing course that she took at her local community center to "give her something to do" in the dead of an Upstate New York winter. That was 3 years ago, and she has been possessed by the need to create jewelry ever since.

Bonnie didn't have a chance to study art while growing up; she admits that she never even took an art class in high school. She moved every 2 years while growing up as a self-proclaimed "Navy brat." She laments, "There was never time in the curriculum for me to take the fun stuff."

Apart from that first class, she has not studied with anyone in person, but admits that she has learned a great deal from Preston Reuther and Sharilynn Miller through their DVDs. She also used Eni Oken's written tutorials to learn more about her craft. Of course, she has added her own spin to what she learned; she says, "I strive to make something that I would like to wear and make it well so that it will stand the test of time. "

Bonnie is a married mother of two grown girls who have blessed her husband and herself with two grand-cats and three beautiful grandsons, Freddy J, who is 23 months old, and his twin baby brothers, Liam and Rory, who were born in December of last year.

Bonnie told us that her extended family is huge, and they are very family oriented. She creates jewelry with her 76 year old mother Ella, and her 27 year old daughter Becky. Together, they are The FamiLee Jewels. Her husband and best friend, Fred, also does wood turning which they sell through their store and their website. Bonnie and Fred have started a second etsy shop called Feather the Nest that sells hand crafted birdhouses and bird related items. All of the profits from Feather the Nest go into their grandchildren's college funds.

In addition to all of her artistic endeavors, Bonnie is also a registered nurse, and works as a Recovery Room nurse in the surgical department of Samaritan Hospital.

Getting her inspiration from the world around her, Bonnie finds opportunities to create whenever, and wherever, she can. When asked how she finds the time, given all her other activities and obligations, Bonnie laughed and told us, "It finds me. I can't seem to put it away until my eyes are burning and I have to go to sleep."

How does Bonnie want people to feel when they wear her jewelry? She says, "I hope that it gives them as much pleasure to wear it as it gave me to make it."

The SATeam blog features artisan handmade creations by the etsy starving artists jewelry team. SATeam members create handcrafted jewelry and beads. More information about our team and its current etsy shop owner members can be found at SATEAM.etsy.com.


A Beaded Affair said...

I absolutely love how you combine different styles. Your work is really fab!

Anonymous said...

Lovely work Bonnie - great to read your story!

Leilani said...

Wow - I love these articles, to get to know SATEam members better. I feel such a kinship to Bonnie; we are very much alike in our approach to jewelry making & our philosophy.

Lisa Holley said...

love this article but i must admit i am very partial to this artists work.....keep up the great work cindy.

galadryl said...

Great article, Cindy. It is great to learn more about Bonnie,her surroundings and her work.

Barb Macy said...

Great story!

bebdesigns said...

Great article! I love how Bonnie works with her family!