Monday, June 15, 2009

The Amazing Karen

Last year when I was in France at a workshop taught by Kate McKinnon, she had these amazing owl beads (at least, I think that's where I first saw them, or else it might have been on her website - can't quite remember). One had a hole and one was a cabochon (a bead with a flat back and no hole). She ended up making the coolest component, with the owl sitting on a branch. She was also incredibly generous and when we were in Mexico is January, she gave me the cabochon owl. (I haven't done anything with it yet because at the time, I didn't know how to attach a cabachon to anything but now I do - thanks to my two beading friends named Heather - and the ideas are percolating. It will have to be something very special!)

Anyhow...Kate told me the owl bead was made by someone named Karen Elmquist from Toronto (not! she really lives in Southwestern Ontario) and I emailed Karen last November to ask if she had any more for sale. She wrote back and told me she had made them as a special gift for Kate but she would let me know if she ever made any more.

About half way through the first day of my 3 day session with Susan Lenart Kazmer two weeks ago in Milwaukee, this woman in the class said something about being Canadian and I noticed her name tag said Karen Elmquist. Imagine my delight to find myself up close and personal with this talented lampworker who made Kate's owl beads!! I quickly went over and introduced myself and mentioned the owls. She said she had made some new ones and had brought them to show Kate. She was kind enough to bring them in to show me the next day and they were amazing.

As soon as I saw them, I knew I had to have this little guy:

She also had much larger versions, full bodied ones and just heads, all so incredibly detailed to show the feathers. I wanted the little one because it reminds me of the little owl we saw hopping across the road on our last night in Durfort last year, it was just a little baby owl.

She also had some of her other beads with her, which were quite amazing. Check out this collection of beautiful baubles:

Kate has a much better picture on her blog of Karen actually wearing the necklace, click the link on the right and read her posting from June 6th as well as her June 12th post to see what she made from one of the new owl beads she got from Karen (which piece I seriously covet!)

But my absolute favourite bead that I bought from Karen is this one:

I call him Freddie (I don't exactly know why). As soon as I saw him, I knew I had to have him. Karen told me it was a "mistake", it was meant to be a hollow bead but a hole burst in the side so she made it into a mouth and added the eyes and then strung a bead on the headpin inside his mouth. I think it is totally delightful and so did everyone to whom I showed it, including Dallas Lovett, who taught a wirework class I attended. He liked it so much, he personally carried it around to each student in the class to make sure they got a good look at it.

So I am delighted to say I have now met and bonded with the very talented Karen Elmquist (although sadly I don't appear to have any photos of the two of us together, which is a serious oversight) and I own two of her creations. You can check out her Etsy offerings and blog here:

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