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Finding Inspiration: Ambassador Jennifer Priest

I have been beading and making jewelry since I was nine years old. I started by selling earrings at craft fairs and working with a wood and metal bead loom to create Native American inspired pieces. It all started when I wanted nice jewelry for myself but I didn’t have access to any, being that I lived in an incredibly small rural town in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Since I couldn’t find what I wanted to buy, I made it with what was available to me. There was a tiny craft store in town with a two foot wide bead section that I shopped at for supplies and I also got gifts of craft supplies from family. As I got older, I didn’t want to buy things that I now I had the skills to make. This situation sowed the seeds of finding inspiration in the things I wanted but didn’t have.

I look for inspiration in finished pieces I see at stores like Anthropologie, online on etsy, and on Pinterest, but also in items outside of jewelry. The inspiration is the starting point and from there, it is a challenge to find the right pieces, or make them, from the items I have on hand or that are readily available to me. Cousin Corporation products are affordable and easy to find at large retailers and small bead shops alike, which makes them a perfect fit for my style of designing. With good base pieces, you really can create just about anything you’re inspired by.




I recently wanted to create a project with feathers, inspired by the trend of handmade dreamcatchers with cascading feathers. I didn’t want to buy feathers, and even if I had them, I didn’t know how to securely attach feathers to a necklace or earrings with wire and beads. The other challenge with this project was that I needed to make a wearable piece. I personally don’t wear much jewelry so the piece had to be something my daughter Katie would wear and in colors she likes. 

I saw a washi tape feather on Instagram that someone else made with wire and I had a light bulb moment. I had a bunch of colored duct tape in my garage and decided to make feathers with duct tape and eye pins, instead of wire and washi tape. The duct tape is sturdy and will hold up for years and the eye pins make the “duct tape feathers” easy to attach to any jewelry piece. Click here to learn how to make the duct tape feathers!

I was also inspired by a bundle of Cousin Jewelry Basics Acrylic Beads (34709064) and decided to combine these with duct tape feathers to make a set of elegant cascading earrings.

These earrings go together lickety split. I make the duct tape feathers while watching TV one night. I prefer to do repetitive tasks like wire wrapping beads or making duct tape feathers while watching TV so I can feel productive while being entertained. I created lots of duct tape feathers and then chose the feathers from the collection that matched the beads I wanted to use. I attached the elements to a piece of chain with jump rings and then attached the chain to an ear wire to create each earring.

Cousin Jewelry Basics Acrylic Beads (34709064)
Cousin Jewelry Basics Jump Rings 120 pc 4/6/8 mm Open Bright Silver
Cousin Jewelry Basics 38 pc Silver Fishhook Earrings
Chain from the Black/Silver Chain Class in a Box by Cousin
Duct Tape

Jewelry Pliers

I think white and silver have a classy look and the glitter on these earrings makes them feel young, against the more mature feel of the cascading beads. My daughter told me these are her favorite thing I’ve made all summer. I guess she likes them because they disappeared from my studio!

My tips for finding inspiration:

-Look for inspiration in finished pieces but also in your every day. Items that are on trend in home decor, art, or fashion can inspire jewelry pieces.

-If you can’t find an element that’s an exact match for a piece in your inspiration piece, make your own or look for a substitution. You’ll always end up with a unique piece that no one else has.

Thank you for stopping by the Cousin blog today. For more projects by Jennifer Priest please visit:

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    [...] h makes them a perfect fit for my style of designing. With good base pieces, you [...]
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    [...] finished pieces I see at stores like Anthropologie, online on etsy, and on Pint [...]
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