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).
I taught myself how to make my first piece of jewelry as I was finishing graduate school. I continued learning all about 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.
I decided to take a break from academics and focus on developing my art in 2007 We moved back to KY and I launched PhbeaD, a playful combination of the words Ph.D. and bead, to combine my science background with my passion for making jewelry.
After seeing pressed flower art, I was inspired to try to make jewelry with insect wings. I use alot of different insects in my work including butterflies, moths, cicadas, grasshoppers, dragonflies, and dobsonflies. Most wings are found locally-literally a dead bug off the ground that was hand-collected.
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 that are made from brass, sterling silver, or 14K rolled gold.
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 airtight, watertight envelope that is resistant to wear and tear. No two pieces are exactly alike and the colors and patterns are all natural.
I do between 12-15 shows a year. Everything gets packed into my car including my tent, tables, display, jewelry, supplies, clothes, and essentials. I primarily travel across KY, but I have also done shows in TN, WV, OH, IN, IL, MO, TX, SD, MN, PA, FL, GA, and NC.
When everything shut down in 2020, I took that time in my life to learn to work with polymer clay. Slow-made in small batches, I mix, roll, cut, sand, drill, and assemble everything by hand. My current collection is called Urban Jungle and features 6 custom colors and numerous statement and minimalist styles.
I am a juried member of the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program and my work has been featured on the cover of Step by Step Wire Jewelry and The Crafts Report magazines. My story was highlighted on KET's “Kentucky Life” and as a spotlight alumna of both my undergraduate and graduate alma maters.