‘Elemental Flair’ shows off artists’ jewelry-making skills

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Some of the pieces that will be part of the “Elemental Flair” show at the BAA. Photos provided.
Some of the pieces that will be part of the “Elemental Flair” show at the BAA. Photos provided.

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“Elemental Flair” is the name of the upcoming Beaufort Art Association (BAA) show, featuring the jewelry-making skills of local artists Barbara Miller and Jan Glover.  

The show opens Sunday, Oct. 29, and runs through Jan. 9.

An opening reception with the artists will be held from 5-7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, at the BAA Gallery at 913 Bay St. in Beaufort. The public is invited to join in for an evening of friends, food and handcrafted art.  Also on exhibit will be the artwork of other local artists who are members of the gallery.

Miller’s art merges her life-long love of fiber knitting with her admiration for unusual handmade jewelry.  

Having started knitting at the age of 10, Miller has designed everything from scarves and sweaters to coats and hats. According to the artist, wire knitting uses the same techniques as fiber knitting, substituting wire for yarn and embellishing it with beads to produce a one-of-a-kind piece of wearable art. Most of her designs are collar necklaces or cuff bracelets.

Over the years, Miller has perfected her art so that it ages well. She uses stainless steel for most of her pieces because it is strong, doesn’t tarnish and has minimal nickel content.  

“My favorite beading materials include semi-precious gemstones, fresh water pearls with unusual textures and shapes, handmade glass beads, coral and shell,” she said. “I have antique gold-filled pieces that have aged extremely well.”

Miller’s work has been featured in art galleries and clothing designer shops in Asheville, Taos, N.M., and Beaufort, Charleston, Hilton Head, Sullivan’s Island and John’s Island. 

Currently, it can be found in shops and galleries in Beaufort and Hilton Head, and Greensboro, N.C.

Glover says that an eye condition as a young girl led her to begin making jewelry. She had to wear an eye patch and do regular hand-eye coordination therapy, which involved working on a bead loom with seed beads daily.  

Once she started down that path, she says her journey continues full steam – and is still therapeutic all these decades later.

“My next jewelry making encounter was in 1992 when I stumbled upon my first bead and jewelry supply shop,” she said. “With the owner’s help, I designed my first piece – a necklace – and have continued to design and handcraft jewelry ever since.”

Glover says her interests and range of techniques have varied over time.  Her techniques include form folding copper metal, usually embossed or textured, with applied patina and acrylic spray to protect the wearer and the piece’s finish. Other techniques include wire wrapping and stringing. She often uses Fair Trade Kazuri beads, which are handmade in Kenya by Swahili women.  

“In addition to earning salaries four times the average for that region,” Glover said, “these women receive healthcare and child care as part of their employment. When a person purchases Kazuri jewelry, they are helping care for these women and their families.”

Glover goes a step further by giving a portion of the sales of her Kazuri bead jewelry to Water Mission, an organization that provides clean water to underserved communities.

Chartered in 1957, the Beaufort Art Association is a tax-exempt membership organization. Currently, about 175 local artists belong, with about 65 of them exhibiting their work in the gallery.  

Visit www.beaufortartassociation.com or call 843-521-4444.