Sunday, May 10, 2009

Teacher's retirement sparkles with fun new hobby

Telegram Staff Writer

For English teachers, some habits are hard to break.
'Everything's got to have a theme,' said Jerie Weasmer of Belton, a retired English professor from Southern Illinois University and the Central Texas branch of Tarleton State.
So when Ms. Weasmer delved into her new hobby of making jewelry, she found that continuity and thematic structure are just as important to jewels as they are to literature.
'Everything has got to flow,' Ms. Weasmer. Each item in every piece of jewelry has its own function.
'It can be there to add color, symbolize something or link two other things together,' Ms. Weasmer said. 'Just like the various components of literature.'
So in the nine months she has been crafting jewelry, most of her pieces have been themed. She has an all-Western necklace, one of geometric shapes, one of fishing lures and another in all pink as a tribute to breast cancer awareness.
'Mixing the vintage with the contemporary is something I like to do,' she said.
As examples, she talked about a wooden bead piece and an African style necklace. Both contain trinkets from recent years and the 60s and 70s.
'Notice how everything looks like it goes together,' Ms. Weasmer said. 'But I found each part of each necklace in a different place. That's what it takes to get a truly unique piece. I'm always on the lookout for an item that will look nice on a necklace, regardless of whether it was intended for jewelry.'
In the last few weeks, Ms. Weasmer's begun to sell her jewelry. And so far, she's got nothing but encouraging feedback from her customers.
Linda Vasek of Temple said she loves Ms. Weasmer's approach to jewelry making.
'No two pieces of hers look alike. Each has its own identity,' Ms. Vasek said. 'I also like how she uses vintage items in modern-looking pieces. It's almost like she's a 'go green' jewelry maker.'
Debra Minzak of Belton is another woman who likes Ms. Weasmer's work.
'I love what she does. It's absolutely gorgeous,' Ms. Minzak said. 'Every piece is constructed with a certain style and order.'
Now that Ms. Weasmer has a fledgling clientele base, her next goal is to incorporate family heirlooms and souvenir items into her jewelry.
'I've made a few pieces for myself like that, and they've turned out fabulous,' she said. 'There's one necklace that has wooden beads that belonged to my mother, and I have an African piece that's made with trinkets I bought while I was in Africa.'
Her possibilities are endless.
'There's several themes to explore,' Ms. Weasmer said. 'I'm glad I tried my hand at jewelry making.'
It was her daughter, an art major at Southern Illinois University, who taught ther the trade.
'It's been a lot of fun,' Ms. Weasmer said. 'A great hobby to get into.'
For those who'd like to transform jewelry making into a hobby of their own, Ms. Weasmer will teach introductory classes this summer at the Cultural Activities Center. She can be contacted at 254-613-4229.

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