Christmas present turned out to be a jewel

September 14, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

A 2001 Christmas present left Lesley Jackson a little perplexed, but not for long.

Her in-laws gave her and her husband, Clay Jackson, gift certificates to Michael's.

"I thought, 'That's fine for Clay because he can find paints and canvases, but I'm not artsy.'"

While perusing the arts and crafts store, Jackson spied some beads and books about making jewelry.

"I was looking at it and thinking, 'I wonder how hard that would be?'"

She purchased beads and wire and looked at a book, but didn't buy it.

"I went home that night and made five pairs of earrings. It was just natural and easy for me."

Jackson had long been a fan of the jewelry in Sundance catalog, which is Robert Redford's company.

"It has the coolest jewelry and they feature artists."

She soon was trying to reproduce some of the expensive pieces in the catalog. She found she had a knack for the work.


"It was almost like my hands knew how to do it by themselves. I went back and bought up everything Michael's had."

The jewelry making soon took over from the energy Jackson once directed toward being a "huge fitness freak" intent on running and biking.

She knew what she hoped to accomplish

Before long, she acquired a business license, which entitled her to buy beads wholesale. One of the suggestions for starting a business was to create a mission statement. Jackson knew what she hoped to accomplish with Jackson Jewelry Design.

"I just think that lots of people really like jewelry and they like nice handmade things, so my goal was to make good quality jewelry for the price. I like to make things affordable for people," she says, noting that she mostly uses semi-precious stones and sterling silver, not silver plate.

This will be her third year to exhibit at Historic Constitution Square Festival. Her other avenues for selling her work are through a Christmas show in Danville that a friend hosts and an annual fall festival at the University of Kentucky Medical Center where she is librarian.

With the daily commute to Lexington from her Danville home, Jackson says she usually doesn't start on her jewelry until evening.

"Usually I'm up kind of late. I'll brainstorm and get all these ideas and I'll want to make everything I can think of to make."

When visiting her booth, don't count on seeing the same thing twice.

"Once I make that thing I don't want to make that anymore so most of my things are one of a kind," she says.

Jackson says many people would not like the tediousness associated with the wire bending. Her grandmother, for instance, is a seamstress and she does tatting and French knots, and that holds no appeal for Jackson. Similarly, Jackson's grandmother says she couldn't sit and do all the wire bending. Jackson does not see it this way.

"It's relaxing and kind of cathartic to have an idea and then create it."

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