Carole Rodgers, author of the recent North Light book The Beaded Bracelet: Beadweaving Techniques and Patterns for 20 Eye-Catching Projects, has a wandering soul. She and her husband LeRoy spend most of their days traveling the great American West in their RV. The landscape, the culture and the people, it seems, are great inspiations in Carole’s work, as she tends toward native materials and colors and stitch patterns that have been handed down across hundreds of years. In addition to The Beaded Bracelet, Carole has also written Beading Basics, Beyond Beading Basics and Beaded Jewelry with Found Objects.
Where you live?
My husband and I are full-time RV’ers. We live in a fifth wheel trailer pulled by a road tractor (semi truck) and we tow a car behind the trailer. We sold our home and moved into the RV in 2004 so we could travel full time.
What kind of art are you known for?
I started my designing career by designing needlework (cross stitch, pulled thread embroidery and plastic canvas needlepoint) and craft projects for publishing companies in 1986. In the mid 90’s I started working with beads designing jewelry for a hobby since I had turned all my hobbies into work. It wasn’t long before I was writing beading and jewelry making articles which is all I do now. I decided I’d better get a hobby that I didn’t turn into work, so I took up fishing.
What is on your workspace right now?
Since I live in an RV, space is limited. I work on a lap desk—the tray kind with a soft bottom that conforms to my lap. On it I have an Ott Light, needles, pliers, thread, scissors and the beads I’m currently working with.
Why do you make art?
I make art because I can’t not make art. I’ve been creative my entire life and have always had some sort of project I was working on. The projects, techniques, and materials have changed over the years but the basic creative urge has never left me. I make things to make them, not to have them. Once I have finished with the project I am on to the next. It’s the process that’s important to me.
What is your least favorite technique that you still use anyway?
I guess I would have to say that my least favorite techniques are the very simple techniques. I prefer techniques that challenge me and I like to figure out ways to make them easier for others to do.
What’s your favorite tool or material?
My favorite materials at the moment are beads and gem stone cabochons.
What do you listen to when you create?
When I am being deeply creative I want no noise at all.
What’s the most inspiring trip you’ve ever taken or adventure you’ve ever had?
I’m not sure how inspiring the trip was but my best adventure was a white water rafting trip down the Poudre River in Colorado. I had wanted to do that all my life but no one would ever go with me. Luckily, I raised a very plucky daughter who wanted to do the same thing. So, at the age of 61, I boarded a rubber raft with my daughter Heather, son-in-law Chris, grandson Hunter, good friend Ron, and an intrepid guide, and we set off down eight miles of very rough water. My husband followed us down the canyon in the car stopping to take pictures of us all the way down. It was a total hoot!
What’s the last thing you cooked?
The last thing I cooked this week was blueberry pancakes for Sunday breakfast.
If you could surround yourself with only one color, what would it be?
I love most colors but my favorite would have to be turquoise.
Do you have a talisman/power garment/magical thing you wear?
I can’t say that I have a ‘material thing’ that I consider a talisman. I have a ring (besides my wedding ring) that I have worn forever and I would feel naked without.
What’s your favorite place in all the world?
My favorite place in the world is Mirror Lake in the Snowy Range in SE Wyoming west of Laramie. This is one of the places that rejuvenate my soul.
What one thing do you want to do that you haven’t done yet?
I’ve been in 47 states and I would like to visit the three I haven’t been in—Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Alaska. We hope to get to Alaska this summer.
What’s the best day you’ve ever had?
I’ve had a lot of good days so it would be hard to pick just one. Getting married, having my daughter and being present at the birth of my grandson would all number in the top half dozen. I’ve been on national television numerous times and traveled to lots of interesting places and met all sorts of interesting people.
What’s today’s Word to Live By?
Enjoy! Enjoy your family and friends, enjoy your work and enjoy all life’s experiences. If you are not enjoying your life, figure out what you can do to change it and go for it. Life is too short not to be happy.
When is your favorite time of day?
Evening is probably my favorite time of day. It’s the time I get to sit and play with beads.
What is your best piece of advice for artists?
Be the best you that you can be. Follow your own muse while you learn from everyone you meet.