This month, we’re excited to introduce you to jewelry maker Candace Stribling.
Candace describes her pieces as contemporary and minimalist, inspired by her love of science and her affinity for art, architecture, nature, and African and abstract objects. We describe them as “stunning.” Candace discovered CraftOptics in 2021 and she’s so thankful she did. As Candace told us, “It wasn’t until I got my CraftOptics that I realized I’d been ‘seeing’ for years, without really seeing!”
I love the science of working with metals, the physics, the math—how the metal moves and changes as you heat it or hammer it. I love the brain work that goes into figuring out how to build the piece you’ve designed, the care it takes to measure correctly so you don’t waste materials.
Prior to my jewelry making, I’d never thought of myself as creative—put me in a biology class, a chemistry class or a math class and I was right at home, from when I was young. It wasn’t until I got older that I started to appreciate and connect to the beauty in art.
Over the years, I’ve started to realize how art connects us all, and hope my art has the same effect on others. I hope a woman can put on one of my pieces and have a new sense of confidence in herself.
I have a very stressful job and I decided I needed a creative hobby. I wasn’t into knitting and I can’t draw or paint, but I saw a jewelry kit at a store and decided to give it a try. I liked it so much that I started to make other jewelry.
People wanted to know if my pieces were for sale. At first, I said, “No, this is just a hobby.” But then I decided to try selling my jewelry at little markets and it was such a hit that I realized it could be a side business for me.
I signed up for bead-making classes and once I touched the torch, I fell in love. I eventually took a metalsmithing class and from there I moved primarily into working with metal.
I’m still learning and experimenting—for instance, right now I’m focusing on setting stones and I’m also slowly transitioning from sterling silver into gold.
I’m currently expanding my Mobius collection of necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
The Mobius design is a mathematical concept discovered by August Ferdinand Mobius in 1858. The shape, which most people today recognize as the infinity symbol, is a surface with only one side and one boundary—a continuous loop. Theoretically, you can travel around the strip with a pencil without lifting it.
My interpretation is an elongated, almost freeform version of the classic shape, which is circular. The Mobius strips tap into my love of science, math and art.
I’m planning to expand the line by adding colored gemstones and different metal finishes including oxidized sterling silver (black) and Vermeil (14K gold over silver). Eventually, I will be adding solid gold with precious gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, and sapphires.
In 2021, I joined the Metalsmith Academy with Lucy Walker—she’s an artist working out of Malaysia who has an online program. She was wearing CraftOptics and obviously really liked them, so I decided to look them up. I found CraftOptics online and had a nice conversation with their on-staff optician, Lynn, who answered all my questions and was just great. I also connected with Lucy, and she just raved about CraftOptics and told me they’d be a game changer.
I decided to get them as a Christmas present for myself—and they were the best Christmas present ever!
It wasn’t until I put on my CraftOptics (while I did my metalwork) that I really understood how much I’d been missing. I could see the metal actually move as I heated it. I could see the fine detail.
And CraftOptics make it so much more comfortable to create. I can sit up straighter and my back doesn’t hurt. I don’t have that crick in my neck.
My CraftOptics are very helpful when I’m sawing. I used to avoid sawing because it was hard to maintain a straight line, but now it’s so much easier that I find myself looking for designs that require sawing.
And I’d absolutely encourage people to get the DreamBeam light—it’s a must-have. The room where I have my studio doesn’t have great lighting. But thanks to the DreamBeam, I can have light right where I need it and I can see clearly while I’m doing intricate work like setting a stone.
I’ve also found unexpected ways to use my CraftOptics. The other day I was setting a stone, and it popped off my desk. Thanks to my CraftOptics I found it almost immediately. I also finding myself reaching for them when I have any kind of close work to do.
Visit my website at candacestribling.com. I’ve also participated in a number of shows over the years. One I was doing pre-COVID was The Waterford Fair in Waterford, Virginia—I may be back again this year!