Parkites find passion in making jewelry |

Parkites find passion in making jewelry

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

Parkites Susan Richer and Cyndi Sharp have known each other for more than 30 years. They shared the same occupational field, but it wasn’t until recently that they realized they share the same passion for making jewelry.

Richer, a former title company manager, started making necklaces in 2005 after a trip to a bead shop in Springdale, Utah. She came home with handfuls of beads and materials, poured them into a towel on her lap and got to work.

Meanwhile, her husband shared a bag of M & M’s with her, and as she strung and snacked, she accidentally bit down onto a silver tube. "It made a terrible crunch and noise like fingernails on a chalk board," she recalls. That silver bead is part of the first necklace she made – and the catalyst for a new direction in her life.

Sharp, who has also spent years in the real estate business, traces her interest in unique stones back to her childhood. Wherever she went, she was always collecting interesting stones, fossils and pieces of petrified wood. As an adult, she channeled her penchant for nature by making rustic furniture for her home.

Once her house was filled with furniture, Sharp decided she needed to work on a smaller scale. She began to make small stone and root creations, melding them together to make pieces of jewelry.

Not long after Richer and Sharp discovered their infatuation with jewelry-making, they ran into each other at a gem show. This past summer, they decided they needed to co-host a jewelry show in Park City.

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On Saturday, Nov. 7, Richer (Eagle Designs) and Sharp (Rooted in Stone) will present their pieces at the Miners Hospital from noon to 6 p.m. Their collections consist of necklaces, earrings and bracelets, including many companion pieces, or sets of necklaces/earrings or necklaces/bracelets that go together.

"We have two distinct styles," says Richer. She mostly works with ethnic, antique beads from places around the world, combining them with organic elements such as pearls, shells, fossils, gold, silver, brass, copper, horn, coral, turquoise, jet and carnelian. "I like unique beads and things that mean something to somebody," she says. "I like to know the history of the beads."

She says she buys beads that she is drawn to, but has to be inspired before she sits down to create something. "I have to feel it," she says, adding that at times she jolts out of sleep with the need to sketch a design or lay out a concept.

"There’s something very rewarding about taking elements and putting them together to create something," she says. "At the instant when the creative process meets the ‘a-ha’ moment, it is very exciting and thrilling for me as I step back and view the finished piece of art. When someone appreciates the beauty and uniqueness of what I have created with the spirit that drives my creative instinct, that moment gives me a thrill of accomplishment."

Sharp creates pieces from roots that she collects around Park City and when she travels. She lets the roots sit for two years so that the bark comes off easily, then cleans, sands, stains, oils and varnishes the pieces before selecting a complementary gemstone.

She lets the natural shape of the roots and stones guide the design, dabbling in different colors, sizes and types of symmetry.

Sharp aspires for her pieces to evoke the calming, relaxing sentiments one might feel while walking through a forest. "During a busy hectic day when I want to unwind, a stroll in the forest soothes my nerves and tranquilizes my soul," she says. Her earthy creations are meant to bring people a step closer to nature.

Richer and Sharp’s collections may be very different, but they complement each other in that they are one-of-a-kind, Richer says. "You’ll never see the same piece twice, and that’s true for both of us."

The women agree that creating jewelry has opened the floodgates on an artistic outlet that they never experienced as real estate agents. "Once you get bitten ," says Richer, trailing off. "It’s addicting." Sharp finishes her sentence.