At every bead show, there is a group of tables that are constantly mobbed. Those tables belong
to Kathy Getty. On November 21, Kathy enlightened our membership with how she arrived at
where she is now…. an artist on many fronts and a total success in multiple fields.
“My name is Kathy Getty and I’m an artist. My journey in life has been discovering what kind of
artist I am. The last seventeen years I have been making jewelry and selling beads. I began my
love affair with African beads and ended up working with stone beads, crystals and pearls. My
pieces are often asymmetrical and always about color, texture and form – the elemental earth we can touch and wear. I am bringing color xeroxes of every piece I have created — there will be a different collection placed on each chair so you can see my creativity while I walk us through my life as an artist.
“The deYoung Museum was my first time inside a display and collection of art. I was seventeen years old and a freshman in college. I grew up living in the country. Throughout much of my childhood, I walked for hours through uncultivated fields, dreaming of weaving grasses into shelters and hoping for escape.
“I did not meet other artists or have any knowledge or experience of art. I am also a painter. I
made very large abstract paintings of geometric shapes glowing with intense color and have
exhibited my abstract art in United States, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Japan and experienced
artists’ residencies in Holland, Belgium and Norway.
“Starting backwards to get to beads… it has been a voyage of discovery. I made it. I am a rock.”
Prior to the last 17 years of total immersion in the bead world, Kathy delved into lithography and was fortunate to have a knack for it. Lithography is the process of printing from a flat surface treated so as to repel the ink except where it is required for printing. Her press was called Mirage Press and printed editions for fifteen years. Her press, now located at the Kala Institute, was originally located in the studio where she now sells her jewelry.
As the members walked into the meeting, they noticed something different. The chairs were
laid out in two long rows per side, each facing three long tables set down the center, topped with thirty-five of Kathy’s beaded pieces from her current collection. On each of the chairs were multi-paged albums each filled with the various pieces of jewelry that she has created – 49 albums in all from 2000-2017. As she creates a piece of jewelry, she makes a life size colored xerox. This is used primarily for her reference as to the stones, pearls, crystals, etc., used in the piece; but new customers are also encouraged to look through these pictures for inspiration for something they then commission Kathy to custom design for them. Looking at each photo, she easily recognizes who made the focal piece, like Gary Wilson or Two Cranes. In her showroom, she has baskets filled with a few of the leftovers as well as beads bought specially to sell to willing customers ~ the beads are a treasure trove and so much fun to go through.
Kathy has a Fine Arts background. She encourages people to call her and make a time to
come by to visit…ask questions…admire what she has made…pick up little things that catch
their eye. You don’t have to feel any pressure to buy, just come by to look and to chat with her.
When we could get to the questions, the first was, “What do you string your pieces on?” The
answer was SoftFlex. She uses closures from Pegasus and expounded on the expertise of
owners Jed and Bill. The stones mostly come from Tucson (her sister lives in Modesto and
goes with her to Tucson, so it is double fun), but also Gem Faire, and the shows held in San
Mateo. Don’t expect to see her at these shows for long as she is usually in at 12:00 and out by
2:15 latest. She has particular people who know what she likes and often call her with a stash
held back just for her perusal. “I only buy what I like. If a vendor says, ‘This item is really
popular’, I mentally close up and usually walk away. Once in awhile though, if it also catches
my eye, then I will look for a second time.
“A weird thing happened years ago. A person contacted me out of the blue. They wanted to
purchase her entire inventory. Huh?? It really made me stop and look at what I had bought over the years ~ I had to actually take inventory. I had no idea of what I had purchased and what everything was worth.” The bummer was that they never got back to her, but it did make her price and label everything she had. Now when she goes to a bead show, she sits down and
reconciles receipts and documents the new goodies in order to keep her inventory up to date. Because of the internet, people today are much more knowledgeable about stones, pearls, crystals, etc. Kathy invests in “focal” beads, and the rest of her inventory seems to fall into place. It has taken over three years for the lapidaries to cooperate and drill holes where she wants them to be ~ well, sometimes. She loves working with Gary Wilson, “a genius who only
deals with AAA quality stones and cabochons” and requires a $2,000 minimum to get to the discount stage…not hard to get there realizing the gorgeous things he creates out of stone.” Sometimes she can talk him into drilling the hole where she wants it ~ otherwise, she just has to get inventive and work around it in the design.
Through the years, which is evident in the albums moving around the room, she can see where
her talent has taken new directions. In the past, her designs were more simplified with a focal
bead on a strand of beads or pearls. Now they have taken on a new look ~ every part of the
signature piece is attractive ~ every part is emphasized and speaks to the focal bead. Her sales
have certainly taken off with this new design direction…..
After she spoke, people were moving around the room exchanging albums, looking at
everything she has created…..
To contact Kathy ~
1420 45th St #34
Emeryville, Ca 94608
by marilyn peters