Theo Bee is out of her gourd

September 14, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

Theo Bee is out of her gourd. Well, at least, she's out of her gourd phase and into jewelry making.

A closet in her home on U.S. 68 out of Harrodsburg that once was reserved for coats now holds boxes of beads, all labeled by color.

Bee, who did woodburning and painting on gourds, became hooked on jewelry when she took a class last fall at the Harrodsburg extension office. Her business, the Beaded Butterfly, will have a booth at this year's Historic Constitution Square Festival.

The beads appeal to her sense of color and design, but a desire to stay busy keeps her intrigued.

"I like doing any thing with my hands. I'm not one to just sit. I don't handle leisure time very well."


Bee named her business because she thought she "had time for flitting around" after she and her husband decided to close their bed and breakfast they ran for 15 years and stopped raising sheep.

It doesn't appear that Bee has much leisure time. One of her daughters and her husband and their four sons, ages 2, 3, 6 and 7, moved in. Her daughter, Ellen Morlote and her husband, Florentino, just bought the Country Cupboard on U.S. 127 in northern Mercer County, and Bee probably still will make gourds for the Amish-themed store.

"Beads are too glitzy for that type of store," says Bee, who also has a son, Austin Bee, who lives next door.

It's not unusual for Bee to be joined in the jewelry making by her children.

"Whenever anybody comes home for a visit they all want to do beads," she says.

A 12-year-old granddaughter, Amelia Yann, is as hooked as Bee.

"She takes all her birthday money and her allowance money to buy beads," she says.

Bee is used to having family involved in her artistic endeavors. One daughter, Molly Britto, of Franklin, Tenn., joined her mother in the gourd business, but had to put that on hold after having a child.

Jewelry is more mobile than gourds

Bee likes the jewelry making because it's much easier to haul around than the gourds, but she probably will never quit making the gourds because she has the inventory.

"Gourds are so big and bulky. I probably have 3,000 on hand. The barn is full and the attic is full."

In making her jewelry, one item that she wanted to try was a lariat, which is about two yards in length.

"You can wrap it around several times. I think of a lariat as something a cowboy would wear," she says, noting that she usually keeps them in one color scheme. One the day of the interview, she wore one with peach beads to complement her peach blouse.

As a member of a Red Hat Society in Lexington, she also makes jewelry with red and purple themes. She takes her jewelry to meetings and members can't resist it.

"They liked what I had on so I just took it off and sold it off my neck and ears."

Bee has about 100 bracelets ready for this year's festival and anklets, the most popular ones adorned with dragonflies. For the holidays, she is plans to have lots of combination red and green jewelry.

"I love Christmas and I love red so I'm really working on these."

She also makes beading to go over lamp shades. "I try to make more traditional jewelry, but I like to make it more ritzy," she says.

Bee, who has decorated the walls of her home with watercolors she has painted and a few of her gourds, doesn't know how long her jewelry-making phase will last, but she is determined to keep her hands in artistic endeavors.

"I'm always interested in everything," she says. "I'll never live long enough to do all the projects I want."

Central Kentucky News Articles