At LadyFaire Living, we want to celebrate and support female-led businesses that operate within, as well as without, the gates of the Renaissance Festival. We hope to appeal to our readers’ sense of style and moxie, while exposing them to artists whose work will delight!
Walk into Connie Cooper’s adorable, tiny booth and you’ll find her bent over a counter, tiny torch in hand, delicate, sparkling glass being shaped by her talented fingers. Her work is the stuff of happiness and delight, beads of a class far, far above what one would find at a mass market bead store or hobby supply shop. The beads are tiny works of art. When asked why she does this lovely work, she replies, “I believe the point of art is to try to speak truth or simply to bring a bit of beauty to the world. Inspired by colors & textures, she saves all sorts of pictures of flowers and bugs, rocks and plants, planets and the nebulae, believing nature is “so full of brilliant color and interesting stuff! I think color comes out more in my macrame and the textures in my lampwork. Think flowers and rocks.”
When asked what she finds most challenging in her work, it’s not, as one might expect, the exacting work of tying the knots or learning the torch. No. “The hardest thing about my work is educating people a bit on what’s involved with the work I do. There are so MANY things people who do what I do have to compete with. ‘Why’s it so EXPENSIVE? [Insert store here} has strands of beads for half that!’ Or “[insert relative/friend here] has a beadwork book. They can make you one.’ It’s really hard to explain the years it’s taken, the differences in techniques, the money spent, the time lost when something doesn’t work, and on and on. This is one reason I developed my historical demonstration. Granted, it’s not how I do my production work, but it shows a bit of the reason that in the past, beads held great significance and were revered; lampwork is, on its own, a magnificent art form. Macrame, as well, has its own place in history. Tying decorative knots was practiced in many cultures to adorn horses as well as people. It was a respected trade.
I was a kid when I fell in love with beads & glass. I still have a piece of glass from Jamestown, stamped with a ‘J’ that I saw being made. Watching the man manipulate the molten glass fascinated me. My mother donated to Native American causes and we used to get ‘kits’ in the mail. I would weave the bracelets and keychains, keeping myself occupied for hours. Then, much later, when I was going through an extremely difficult time in my life, I turned once again to something I could concentrate on at home, alone, that would offer me some moments of Zen. I picked hundreds of seed beads off a thrift store dress and started beading. That was in the early 80s and I’ve been at it ever since. In 1990, I left everything of my past life behind, headed to Texas, and began a new, full-time life in the world of Renaissance festivals.”