11/13/17 — A Passion to Create

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A Passion to Create

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on November 13, 2017 6:13 PM

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Wendy Ford puts rolled paper beads onto a piece of twisted wire to make a bracelet.

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Wendy Ford makes earrings, bracelets and necklaces out of rolled paper beads.

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Sailboat Christmas ornaments are what Wendy Ford is making this year for the holidays.

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Matched sets of earrings, bracelets and necklaces are packaged and ready to be sold at the Holiday Art Market at the Arts Council of Wayne County.

Growing up on a family-run dairy farm in Minnesota, Wendy Ford had no TV and lot of the things that other children had. So she had to look for other outlets for her creativity.

"Art was something I could do," she said. "I cut up paper and created things. At school, they encouraged me, too. Whenever you get good feedback on something, then you think, 'Oh, I must be good at that, let me keep doing it.'"

And keep doing it she did.

These days, the Mount Olive resident is known for her paper Christmas ornaments and paper jewelry, both of which can be found  for sale at the Arts Council of Wayne County.

The Christmas ornaments came first. Mrs. Ford started making them because she needed to be doing something creative.

"I made some and took to the Arts Council and they were very excited about them," Mrs. Ford said. "One year I did birdhouse ornaments and they were a big hit and fun to do because I could have music ones, any theme I wanted. Every year I do a new kind of ornament -- and they're all out of paper. Sometimes I put beads and other things on them."

One year she did a series of circus ornaments because her daughter was really into circus stuff. And she's done  some shadowbox ornaments and globe ornaments, too.

This year's ornaments are sailboats. It took Mrs. Ford a few tries to figure out what glue holds what together and to make sure everything is balanced, but after that, the process went quickly.

"The process of art is what I enjoy most," she said. "It's the problem-solving aspect, learning what products will give me the result I'm looking for in texture, adhesion, color. I've spent months testing for just the right glue that won't show through a particular paper, dries fast enough to be practical and stands up to displaying and the boxing up a Christmas ornament."

Mrs. Ford began making jewelry out of paper last summer and her designs are already popular around Wayne County.

"I kept seeing it online," she said. "I got hooked."

She does matching sets of earrings, bracelets and necklaces. And it all starts with strips of colorful paper.

"I take strips of paper, you can do any size you want from a quarter of an inch all the way up to an inch and a half," Mrs. Ford said. "I use a paper roller to roll the strip of paper tightly. Then I glue the end and laminate the paper bead with Hodge Podge. It's waterproof once it dries.

"Because it's paper, the jewelry is not heavy at all. Most people who like a lot of jewelry don't like all that weight dangling from their ear and paper is light."

She even made one set of jewelry out of a Monopoly set.

She incorporates beads into her designs to finish the look.

"Each set is one of a kind, Mrs. Ford said. "No one else will have the same set. When I make a set, I throw the rest of the scrap paper away. So you won't see anyone else wearing what you're wearing."

Design ideas for rolled paper bead jewelry are unlimited.

"I do a lot of looking at pictures to see what jewelry is out there," she said. "I look at jewelry that's not made with paper beads, but see how it could be transformed into using paper beads. I'll just play with a design."

And the designs on the paper she uses are endless.

"One of the most unusual papers I've worked with came from Sri Lanka, and was called elephant dung paper," Mrs. Ford said. "Retired elephants literally ate and processed the plants to remove everything from the plant but the fiber. Needless to say, the dung was strained many times before it became paper."

Mrs. Ford makes most of her ornaments and jewelry after working her part-time job.

"So I come home and play until my husband gets home," she said. "I HAVE to do some kind of art."

Mrs. Ford gets excited about creating jewelry.

"It's like, look at that, that's beautiful. I would wear it so maybe someone else would, too. It's a lot of contentment for me.

"I'm pretty intent on what I'm doing. I think that's why it's so good for me because I'm not worrying about things. It's like reading a book, it takes you away from your life."

Mrs. Ford loved art even as a child.

"My parents were wonderful supporters of the arts, and I spent a lot of time creating stuff, making music and reading," she said. "If there was a poster contest, I entered it."

 Mrs. Ford said she has not seen a lot of things made with paper so her creations are unique in that way, too.

She would one day like to do paper theaters that look like a three-dimensional theater with paper layers so you can see back behind the curtains. She said those are from an old time period, probably the Victorian time period, when people used them as puppet theaters.

"My art will keep morphing into something else," Mrs. Ford said. "But it will always be with paper because it's affordable."