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SPICE BOX of waxed linen, copper, copper-plated pewter, carved wood, etched agate, dyed pearls, lapis, Swarvoski crystal, Czech glass, Indian glass beads; predominant double half-hitch knots and wrapping; 43.2 centimeters, 2011.

Sue Rutherford

bead arts



Like many jewelers, Sue Rutherford’s interest in arts is heavily rooted in her childhood. When she was still just a teenager, Rutherford was already teaching at a small local craft and gift shop in her hometown, after taking years of craft classes there. At age fifteen, she joined her sister for a macramé class at an evening adult education program, and immediately fell in love.

The owner of the shop agreed to let Rutherford teach macramé if she found it was worthwhile, and Rutherford certainly did. “I took to it like some people take to sewing or knitting,” she remembers. She made purses, belts and necklaces, wall hangings and the infamous macramé plant holders.

Her passion for the technique, and arts in general, tied in nicely with the times. It was the height of the counter-culture movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. While Rutherford was a bit too young to fully embrace the movement, she was enthralled by it, observing her older sister and friends get swept up in the music, art and clothes. Rutherford interpreted it in her own way—using fluorescent poster paints to create her own versions of the psychedelic concert posters covering the walls in her sister’s room. She started stringing beads and necklaces she thought would fit well with the longhaired crowds. She embraced the time’s focus and appreciation for the arts and self-expression, doing her own painting, drawing, crafts, and altering her own clothes.



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