Lampwork ~ Metalwork ~ Beadwork: “Work” seems to be the theme here, but in reality, she literally ran away to the circus in the 80s. Having a degree in finance, Mary Karg was doing what all good business majors do: she had a job (it wasn’t really all that wasn’t all bad). One of her co-workers was going to the Cultural Art Center for classes so I signed up for jewelry making. First day of class she set the record for number of saw blades broken (19!!!), but that was all it took and she was hooked.
Mary thought metal and rocks were “it”, but then the same co-worker took her to their local bead shop. It was what that white-bread, suburban wife and mother imagined an opium den was like….only with beads….LOTS of beads. It was the first time she had ever really seen artist made lampwork beads. “I can do that!” she said. Ha! O the ugly beads she made….and kept making. Most were only beads your mother and the man who promised to like whatever you made could compliment.
So, decades later, Mary is still at it and “I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of it. I consider myself a wearable artist rather than a jewelry designer. I seldom make the same thing twice, although I will get hooked on something I can’t quit until the itch is totally scratched (SERIOUS ART people refer to this as a series: mask/faces, dragged dots, windows, and lately it’s the “Botany Gone Bad” pod series and colored pencil on copper.”
“Get out your crayons ~ we are going back to kindergarten”….Mary taught all three days of BABE! and then gave an additional class on Monday for the vendors ~ Everyone had a wonderful time, so as a special treat to those who attended on November 15, 2016, Mary gave a FREE demo/workshop with the same goodies from the weekend’s classes. Everyone took home a special, handmade pendant….if you did not attend, you missed this!
For a quick background in her childhood, her brother has been a fabulous artist from the beginning! She was good at math and liked to get her hands dirty ~ not a great beginning for an artist, is it. Her parents sent them both to Art Camp and at the tender age of 10, she came to the realization that she was not an artist! Then she attended Camp Fire Girls where they had fire, candy, and …… beads! She comes from a long line of “makers” where her mother is a crafter and her father was mechanical who told her to never get married as it was a waste of the money invested in her education. She ended up with a degree in finance and computer graphics.
While attending the Contemporary Art Center, she paid $30 for an all-day class on Introduction to Metal. She found that she didn’t like enameling and added color to her pieces through the usage of stones. A local bead store offered a class in lampworking ~ another disaster, as she didn’t put on the bead release and her efforts ALL stuck on the mandrel and the teacher had to break them off. But that class did teach her that she loved fire and colors and the resulting surprises when the pieces come out of the kiln.
Her work has been featured in 500 Beaded Objects, 1,000 Glass Beads, Beads of Glass, and Beaddreams. She did a few shows as a vendor but admittedly did not do well. She became involved with the Loveland Art Studio and Art2Wear developing aspects of jewelry and wearable objects as well as collaborated with other artists on art pieces that were put up for auction. She started the Friday Afternoon Bead Bitches and was supportive in their development. While with that group, she started creating bead crochet ropes and bead embroidery. During an especially tough winter which she named “Snowmagedden”, she watched Netflix, played with her cats and after three long months, actually had finished one necklace.
During this time of artistic development, she started adding color to metal with the use of colored pencils, paints, acrylics, and even nail polish. Deb Morash, “The Bead Thief”, opened the world of layering and dimensional metal work. She played with layering colored pencils on sterling silver and brass. Eventually she ended up in Ashville and found people who were interested in what she was teaching. Many other artists use her beads in their work but she continues to play with colored pencils. She continues to stress that she has no artistic or even sketching ability and so uses books for references but obviously, with her popularity, she is doing something right. She does recommend Prisma Color pencils as their “leads” are more flexible and waxy so the colors blend better. Before she starts to work with the pencils, she warms the leads with her body heat to soften their effects. At the end of each creation, she seals each layer, as well as the final creation with either Krylon Glossy Spray or Prisma Color Sealer.
In Loveland, Ohio, she has refurbished a lovely 140-year old home into a studio, gallery, and workshop. There is even a “guestroom” for students who want to stay over for her classes. By the Spring of 2017, she has plans to hold “Layered Color Pencil Jewelry” classes and hold many “Meet the Teacher” nights. If you are in the area and interested in attending, contact her at MaryKargDesigns@msn.com or 513-300-2277.