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I live in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, which is beautiful and a slower pace than our former location in Delaware.  When we moved here four years ago I taught classes at the local bead stores and found a fabulous place to sell my jewelry in town, but we also started a family and I’ve had to cut back on how much traveling I can do. 

Swanstroms on the wall at Parlehuset

In Delaware I could hop on the train and shop for supplies all day in Manhattan.  I used to teach four bead classes in a week.  And when I wasn’t teaching I could hobnob with other jewelry aficionados who were in the bead shop.  I was in a local chapter of a bead society.  Bead Fest and Wire Fest and several traveling bead shows would come within an hour’s drive, and I had several jewelry friends in town whom I could meet for dinner and talk shop.  I used to go with Steve on his business trips and check out the local jewelry scene while he was in meetings.  (My favorite is Parlehuset in Gothenburg, Sweden.) 

We moved to Virginia to be close to my parents while we started a family, and I am so glad we did.  It has been a huge help to be in a support system of friends and family while we have small children, and I’m so thankful it has worked out for Steve to work from here.  However, I don’t really know any local jewelry people here, so that community is online and sometimes I feel isolated “out here.”  I have met local professional jewelers and people who dabble in beads as a hobby, but none of my friends can really relate to what it’s like to be a jewelry designer and a mom at the same time. 

I do know a few jewelry people through the web who can relate on that level, so when we’re in the same neck of the woods I make a point to get together.  While we were at the beach I had coffee with Lori Anderson, who is so knowledgable about the biz and so giving with her time and talents (and stays home with her 8-year-old son).  Love her. This weekend she had a show near Dulles, so I got a sitter so I could sit and chat with her at the booth yesterday afternoon.  It is practically therapeutic for me just to be able to talk about Stringing Magazine or lampwork or blogs or volcanic gemstones — and with someone who knows what I’m talking about.  At the show I also got to meet Jeanette Blix of Fundametals and ArtBliss Workshops.  (Still hoping to meet Cindy Wimmer some day!  Maybe at the ArtBliss meet & greet.) 

So if you’re heading down interstate 81 and you want to grab a cup of coffee and talk about jewelry making, I’d love to hear from you!