This interview was conducted by Michelle Genders and originally posted on the Rainbow Artists team blog.
Let’s get to know Erik from Scared Hoop Jewelry. He makes intricate and unique beaded necklaces, as well as upcycled wooden boxes, that he sells from his shop. He opens up about the unique making process that he has developed:
Where do you live and how long have you lived there?
Thank you for choosing me to be the featured artist. I came back to Iowa from Texas in 2005 after spending 28 years down south. It was in my hometown of Cedar Rapids that I remembered my childhood vision to build Snake Loomed jewelry.
Iowa could be the worlds largest cornfield with rolling hills and meandering river valleys. Cedar Rapids is a small city with roots in the food industry. I enjoy the scents coming from Quaker Oats in the middle of winter when everything including the river is frozen over and covered in shimmering white snow.
Where do you make the jewellery that you sell?
I build my Snake Loomed projects in my home which I share with my daughter who is my favorite model. For me Snake Looming is far more than a hobby. It is my job and my main form of therapy. The most difficult part is getting a project started. There are so many decisions to make such as what colors to blend and what patterns to build and the style of jewelry I want to make next. After my strings are cut, tied and needled up the fun begins.
I can sit for short amounts of time throughout the days and string beads while I enjoy rock and country music or the calming sounds of various native musicians from around the globe.
What do you like most about making jewellery?
For me the biggest thrill in my craft is seeing the excitement on peoples faces when they discover my work especially if they are lucky enough to become the owner of a piece. I like the WOWs I get when folks realize the effort that goes into string hundreds of beads into the intricate patterns I have developed over my years of dedication to this technique.
What is the most difficult part of making jewellery?
The patterns which are the most difficult have the six colors of the rainbow. The Rhythmic Rainbow necklaces I have created came out of my head early on in my career as a bead artist. It takes 72 rows of beads before the pattern recycles. The most difficult pattern takes only 12 rows to start over but it took me 2 1/2 years of thought before I could imagine exactly how to accomplish it. It is the Ultimate Weave pattern with the primary colors spiraling in one direction and the secondary colors spiraling in the opposite direction. At the same time the colors appear to weave around each other creating a tubular net of rainbow bliss. Doing my beading projects with the colors of the rainbow is more of a challenge to me because of the complexities of working with so many colors.
What do you like most about having an etsy shop?
My shop on Etsy allows me the freedom to create and not have to deal with the crowds of people and noise in the market place here in Cedar Rapids. Etsy gets me out in front of the world and away from this small city where I can attract a global following of diversified admirers. I love to see and sometimes buy the work of other artists and designers I encounter on Etsy. I like the way teams of Etsyans work together to promote each others products so we may all reach a greater number of folks and get more views from around our world
Could you share one item from shop that you are most proud of making?
I have another creative passion. During the warmer months of the year I like to get outside and use shop tools to create little keepsake boxes out of various woods that I pick up from freshly fallen trees in the area. By trade I am an ironworker but I found much spirituality in taking natural materials of the forest and listening to the songs they sing as I run them through my saws. I love to put my hands on a piece of scrap lumber and turn it into a beautiful display of craftsmanship.
I love the description in your etsy profile:
“In third grade on beading day in art class the Goddesses showed me a vision about a method of stringing tiny beads into patterned ropes. Thirty years later I became disabled but needed a way to fill part of the day creatively so I remembered a skill I thought of in the past and put it into practice. My first Sacred Hoop was made with multiple patterns in the colors of the rainbow. I named it Man Made Rainbows For An Angel and I gave it to my Mom. From there it was on to figuring out over 30 patterns in different styles and any range of colors. I call my method Snake Looming. My system is different than bead crochet.”
Could you tell us why you called the method Snake Looming?
Snake Looming came about because of the way beads lay similarly to the the scales on a snake’s back. I had a Native American friend over at my house one day while I was stringing beads. He told me he also had the passion to string beads and was amazed at the simplicity of my technique which he had never seen done before. He described the technique as looming and so many people have told me that my work is very snake like so the two words stuck and the world has a new product and design for building it.
It seems that you are a very good fit for the Rainbow artists team because you are often making jewellery that is rainbow colours such as this piece here.
It is so carefully made and the pattern is beautiful. Could you tell us more about what rainbows mean to you?
For me the rainbow represents the magical renewal of life after a cleansing rain has passed over the Earth to replenish much needed moisture in all life forms. It is a sacred sign from the Creator that She is still with us and She is impressed enough to rejuvenate our life forces.
You say that you like to listen to music while you bead. What is your favourite song or musician to listen to at the moment?
I usually have the radio on or a cd playing as I work on beading projects. I like rock n roll sometimes and listen to the songs of Ozzy and Van Halen mostly. When I’m in the mood for radio my favorite country band, the Dixie Chicks, are always welcome. There are times when I need to hear something soothing and easy to listen to. I’m drawn to Native music such as Brule more often and find them on the internet at youtube.com.
You say that it takes a long time to make each piece. Could you estimate how many hours it takes?
I have days when I’m totally into a beading project and can sit in small shifts for most of a day singing along with the tunes and stringing beads. On such days I can build a Snake Loomed project at the rate of 1 inch per hour so a 15 inch necklace would take about 16 hours from start to finish.
You have a lovely, evocative way with words. They way that you describe the world is very mystical. Can you tell me what the complexity and difficulty of stringing beads in these patterns has taught you about the nature of what you call ‘The Creator’?
When I’m in my zone it’s my turn to be the creator. I have the power to transform a block of wood into a simple little dug out box and the patience to string tiny beads into complex patterns of beautiful colors. I cannot create life. I leave that task to the masters of the universe and the sacred feminine found in many species of the Earth. So, I create works of art for the ladies to enhance their naturally beautiful selves.