The Essential Elements

The Great Oz Necklace by KJ. Focal bead by

KJ of The Essential Elements creates handmade, typically one of a kind jewelry with an emphasis on handmade lampwork and Venetian glass beads. She agreed to talk with us about herself for a bit!

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
Believe it or not, a purchase of some bracelets at an art fair in San Francisco was the beginning of my beading addiction. As a stay at home mom desperate for something of her own, coupled with a love of glass, jewelry and pottery, I decided to give jewelry a try. That was eleven years ago, and I still love it.

I have done needlepoint, rug hooking, crotchet, macrame, cross stitching, and most recently stamp art. Some because I loved them and some because my mother was always trying to keep me entertained, but jewelry is the one that really gives me pleasure.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
In my younger days it would have been water skiing hands down. Unfortunately, a back injury ended my skiing days. I still enjoy boating and swimming every chance I get.
Nowadays, I have "mean-agers" so crawling into my workroom, turning on the stereo and having "alone time" is really pleasurable.

I would have to say, however, that seeing people enjoy something I've done gives me the greatest pleasure. I love to entertain, cook, create and sell my crafts, etc. When I work hard at something and someone enjoys or appreciates my work, it is very fulfilling. As a stay at home mom, that outside validation is very rewarding.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your shop?
Time, hands down. It takes so much time to keep my shop current and fresh. Taking photographs and listing new items always seems to take longer than I anticipate. Selling online has really changed the way I approach my work as a whole. I am surprised at the difference in styles that sell in person versus on-line. This can make selecting items to list difficult. Pictures don't always do the glass justice.

What item in your shop would you most like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
I have many favorites. Believe it or not, I don't keep many pieces. I have very little jewelry of my own. I am the barefoot cobbler. When I make a great piece, my husband always convinces me to sell it. Often I think I will make one for myself and then never do. I move on to the next creation. However, if I had to choose one, I think it would be these earrings.

They may not be the most unique or intricate of works but they invoke such a memory of my childhood that wearing them would always feel special.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I had so many dreams. An Olympic swimmer or ice skater would have been awesome. Then it was architecture and that changed to adolescent psychology. I was definitely going to be the cool counselor that saved the trouble teens of the world with wit, respect and understanding.
A stay at home mom, selling my art at roving craft fairs was not something I ever dreamed of becoming. Not to mention, friends and teachers from my youth would faint to find me a veteran school board member.

What other shops out there do you love?
After two years on etsy, I have barely scratched the surface of phenomenal stores. I have fully embraced the "buy handmade" mantra though. My favorites section is bursting with shops I love as well as many being listed on my blog.

I will say that and are two of my favorite pottery shops. also has amazing hand dyed scarves that make great gifts. is my "go to" girl for note cards to include for my customers. She does great work and is always a pleasure to deal with.

I also enjoy purchasing from and because not only do they make great products but they are very globally conscious in the materials they use, the subject matters they portray and the message they are sending.

Of course, the beadmakers and glass artists are brimming with talent but I can't give away all my secrets now, can I?

What does your future hold?
Short term, I would like to get the dinner dishes washed.

Long term, I'd like to get a kid through college and realize my dream of seeing Italy while still young enough to enjoy it.

But seriously, when it comes to jewelry, I would like to continue to grow my business as well as expand my abilities in metalsmithing and other forms of jewelry. I would like to once again pursue some local selling venues for my pieces and yes, I really would love to see a venetian glass artist in person. I keep telling my better half it's a business expense trip. He keeps waiting for the business to present the cash flow needed. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Go check out The Essential Elements on Etsy and handmade fuzion or visit with KJ at Keep an eye out, because she often does a Friday night happy hour sale, AND she has agreed to give free shipping to anyone that mentions "Fresh Peaches" in their transaction as a celebration of this feature. Awesome! I'm a coupon code!