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Meet local maker Sulamith Kilian-Carter
Sulamith Kilian-Carter’s work is inspired by her fascination for beads and her maternal heritage of crafts skills combined with a natural curiosity for the wonders of the world and an inherent wanderlust. Sulamith has now settled in the Cotswolds, where she works from her garden studio.
What first fuelled your passion to make / create your designs / product?
My love for handcrafting was passed down the generations, from my grandmother and my mother, whose stash of fabrics and haberdashery provided endless hours of entertainment, especially the beads & button box. I soon started to experiment myself and as a result gained a degree as a costume maker in Germany. To satisfy my inherent wanderlust, I went to put my skills to work in South America and over the years explored the Americas from South to North and some of Africa and Asia and some years later graduated in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Bonn in Germany. Especially fascinated by the rich tapestry of craft traditions around the world, I continued to pursue my special interest in costumes and jewellery; the existence and use of beads and the urge to adorn ourselves can now be traced as far back as humankind itself.
Tell us about the origins of your business.
For Your Beads Only evolved from a fascination for beads and maternal heritage of crafts skills combined with a natural curiosity for the wonders of the world and an inherent wanderlust. Taking a meandering path of exploring different aspects of craft, music, language, costume and jewellery within a kaleidoscope of different cultures of one world has led me to set up For Your Beads Only over 10 years ago. I started selling my handmade designs when I first got involved with ‘The Rainbow Venue’, a community project providing space and exposure for local artists and crafters in Oxfordshire back in 2009 and have never looked back since.
What’s your motto?
Live a life of wonder.
How would you describe your designs / products?
Individually handcrafted jewellery exploring the fascination of beads combined with a natural curiosity for the wonders of the world and an inherent wanderlust.
What was the first success / landmark moment for your designs / product range?
My first exhibition as ‘Artist of the Month’ at Banbury Museum and Galleries in 2010.
Tell us about your materials - where do you source your materials from?
Sourcing my material is based on the same eclectic style that permeates my wholistic approach to work and life in general and has led to building up a diverse stash of beads in a wealth of shapes, colours and sizes. My current range of jewellery features strongly handmade lampwork glass beads, some of which I source directly from the makers, gemstones come from certified suppliers and some real treasures I found on my extensive travels and forays into diverse cultures.
Tell us about your making process?
I make all my necklaces to a high standard, hand picking the beads to ensure an individual arrangement and design of each piece so you can be sure to get a piece of jewellery that can be treasured.
Each piece is carefully handcrafted by myself and variations in beads and colours ensure a unique look and finish to each individual piece. I use a wide range of high quality materials to create my jewellery, from handmade lampwork glass beads, semi-precious gemstones, natural shell and wooden beads to vintage and recycled beads and fabric to ensure a unique look and finish.
Have you ever had any interesting commissions?
A customer from Australia came across my colourful glass bead necklaces and asked me to make her a custom chain for her reading glasses, as she wanted something different that would give her joy and brighten her every day.
Do you have a favourite of the Birmingham museums? If so, why
The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter is a real gem of a museum, bringing the past to life with its extraordinarily preserved workshop and exhibits: ‘The story of the jewellery quarter’ and one of my favourites: ‘The earth’s riches’ about the history and traditions of jewellery making form around the world using natural materials.
And finally, a tourist arrives in Birmingham for the first time ever, where do you take them?
I would take them on a walking tour of the Jewellery Quarter for a sense of place and working history of the city.