My story

Getting my education

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A native of Louisa, KY,  I received a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from Pikeville College (2000).  I earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Kentucky (2005) and was hired at the University of Wisconsin (2005-2007). 

Discovering my passion

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I taught myself how to make my first piece of jewelry as I was finishing graduate school. I continued beading as a fun and fashionable way to relax from work, but it grew into a creative, hands-on, and tactile form of self-expression.

Choosing my path

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My husband and I moved back to KY in 2007 and I found myself at a crossroad. Although I had excelled in school and been successful in my scientific career, I decided to take a break from academics and focus on developing my art.    

Finding my inspiration

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 After seeing pressed flower art, I was inspired to try to make jewelry with insect wings. Although  I purchase exotic insects from suppliers, most of the wings I use are dead bugs off the ground that I find and re-purpose into jewelry.

Preparing the wings

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The biology of every wing is unique and I developed each chemical preservation recipe through trial and error. In general, once wings are spread, dried, prepped, and shaped, they can be mounted into commercial or custom bezels.   

Making resin jewelry

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 I use a proprietary double barrel, twice-mixed, vacuum-sealed resin technique to embed the wings into jewelry. Each piece is meticulously sealed to make an air tight, water tight envelope around the wing that is resistant to wear and tear.  

Starting a business

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I launched PhbeaD as a home-based jewelry business in central Kentucky in 2007. The name is meant to join science and art.using a playful combination of the words Ph.D. and bead. 

Practicing green routines

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Finished pieces are labeled with recycled information cards and packaged in eco-friendly boxes. I use many re-purposed items in my display and actively recycle scrap metal and other materials.

Keeping it fresh

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 There are a lot of wings I haven't figured out the right recipe for yet. In the mean time,  I am consistently reinventing my work. I monitor trends and experiment with mixed media so my clients have a unique shopping experience every time.