WILLIE and LU's HISTORY (The LONG Version):
About 14 years ago, my sister-in-law Jenny, and I discovered the joys of Fimo, and went hog-wild wtih the polymer clay. In a very short time, we fount ourselves with zillions of handmade beads (and a whole bunch of doo-hickeys and what-nots), and, armed with a few old tools, basic wires, a box of seed beads, plus a 2-minute lesson from the local bead store, put together several dozen earrings, which WE felt were truly extraordinary (They may--or may not--have been...).
Back home in St. Louis, I begged my mother and her partner Gunda to sell Jenny's and my earrings in their fab store. To my amazement, they agreed to give it a try, and even more astounding, the earrings sold--and sold pretty well!
When it came time to replenish our stock, I decided to incorporate some of the beads I'd been toting around for years (e.g., as a child, I'd played dress-up with a long strand of amber glass beads, which, over time, had separated into many smaller strands--You'll find these beads alive and well in many Willie & Lu designs!) and found that our handmade beads looked a whole lot better when accompanied by sparkle and shine--and color we just couldn't achieve with unglazed clay. The more I used my heirloom/recycled/vintage glass and crystal, the more Jenny's and my beads faded into the background, until we found that the Fiimo beads were (alas!) a thing of the past. The simple fact was that the crystal and glass beads were prettier than ours, and offered more creative choices. Just as importantly, I felt equally connected to the earrings crafted from my family collection to those that included beads we'd made by hand. To this day, I am as proud sharing a crystal that belonged to my grandmother as I would be if I created the bead myself.
Over the past decade, a lot has changed in/about/around us, and while I update designs every day, the basic ESSENCE of my jewelry remains the same -- Simply: The treasures given to me by friends and family are by far the most vital ingredients in my work. Even when I'm making a piece that doesn't contain a single antique or vintage element, it almost certainly was inspired by one. While once I had just a small tin box of my grandmother's beads to choose from, I now have a studio filled with oodles of jewels given so generously to me by an amazing group of friends and family. Every new bauble connects me -- and hopefully, in some way, YOU, the wearer--to the person who gives it. It has been a beautiful and humbling way to widen my circle of friends and loved ones. I welcome you to join it!
Most of what happens here is done by me (Jools), but I couldn't do it without the support of son Aidan (14) and daughter Lucy (10), whose creative input and (generally) active assistance I count on daily. My husband Jeremy has claimed the title of CFO, which he wields mightily. I'm so grateful to the many friends and family members who contribute their own treasures to the cause; playing with their old jewelry never fails to make me feel closer to them, and I hope you'll get some pleasure out of knowing that your jewelry truly is made with love.
Don't forget: www.willieandlu.etsy.com!!!
xo jym 2010