Hello friends. Taking a break from my usual topics, this post is less about me, and more about my friend, Vita Carnduff. She and I share a love of popcorn and horror flicks, as well as both being teachers (she does so far more actively than I do) artsy-fartsy creative types. I’ve got this little corner of the internet and my photography, and Vita creates beautiful and unique beach glass jewelry and super-cute pictures with little beach glass characters. Let me tell you, she’s insanely talented!
Earlier this year, I decided to commission her to make a couple of pieces for me. She’s got several options for glass colors, so I got to choose what I wanted for each. Once she had the design ready, I got to approve the final look before she glued anything down. Can’t get more custom than that! In the end, they turned out to be so freaking adorable that I just had to share them with you.
This first image was a no-brainer – I wanted a picture to represent my family of 3:
The second image I wanted would represent my passion for photography. Vita and I shared a couple of ideas back and forth, and she came up with this, which I absolutely love:
I adore these so much, I had to share the love. This week, I received a couple of pieces I asked her to create as teacher gifts for the holidays (shhhh… don’t tell them!):
Next, I think I’m going to have to get her to make another for me that represents my love of CrossFit.
Anyway, I wanted to know more about how Vita came to embark on this creative endeavor, so I did a little interview with the artist herself. Read on to the end to find out how you can get your own custom QUIrKEI Design!
D: What is your background in regards to art?
V: Ha! I have absolutely no background in art. I am a full time teacher and full time mom. The only arts I have ever been a part of are theater arts! I love performing. This is my first foray into the wide wonderful world of actual artwork!
D: How did you get started creating these adorable beach glass works of art?
V: A couple years ago I started wire wrapping pieces of beach glass for friends and they were very popular, so I started my QUIrKEI Designs Beach Glass Jewelry business. This past summer, someone asked if I could make a family of beach glass birds for her and it turned out fabulously, so I posted the picture of it on Facebook and within 24 hours I had 30 orders! I absolutely love making these pieces as they give me the opportunity to use smaller pieces that I can’t use for jewelry. I had so many smaller, beautiful pieces of beach glass that I wanted to be able to share. So many times we find gorgeous pieces and they just end up in dusty jars on shelves. My artwork allows me to be able to use these pieces so that they can be seen and enjoyed by many!
D: What/who inspires you to create/keeps your inspiration going?
V: First off, my daughters are definitely my most powerful inspirations. The name QUIrKEI comes from using the first three letters of each of their names, so they are and will always be a huge part of this. I also draw inspiration from things I see and people I meet. Some of my favorite pieces I have created began as ideas brought to me by customers who wanted creative and unique gifts. I always like to improve upon my work and I love trying new things and pushing my abilities. Being able to create art that brings people happiness gives me such an incredible feeling of satisfaction.
D: Where do you find your beach glass? Do you buy it or exclusively “hunt” for it?
V: Absolutely 100% of the beach glass that I use (as well as stones) are found at the beaches by either myself, my girls, or my mom. I have never, and will never, purchase or modify my glass. Every piece is exactly as I found them, I don’t tumble, polish, or alter in any way. That’s why I love the word “quirky” because that’s what my pieces are, unusual, unique, and perfectly imperfect. 99% of my beach glass is from Lake Michigan. We like to call it “locally sourced and repurposed materials!”
D: Where is the most exotic location you’ve found your beach glass?
V: I first discovered my love of beach glass in Puerto Rico about ten years ago when my mom and I went on a girls’ trip. All of those pieces are in a special bottle that I have kept separate from my Lake Michigan beach glass. It’s interesting to see the difference between sea glass and beach glass, it’s just fascinating.
D: Do you work by yourself or with a team?
V: This is definitely a family business! My mom introduced me to finding beach glass years ago and still comes with me for many of my “glassing” trips. I owe a lot of my success to my two daughters (ages 5 and 8) as they are my biggest inspirations AND cheerleaders! We are always going on “adventures” to discover new beaches and they are now pros at finding beach glass. We celebrate our discoveries and finds and every time we go, we try to find the best piece of beach glass in order to become “Queen of the beach”! (Usually a red or a pink equal instant queenly-ness). They also help me with sorting and organizing the glass and coming up with new and creative ideas about how to use the beach glass. This has given us the opportunity to become even closer and share in creating this business together. My older daughter is now designing her own pieces and selling them as well. This gives us the awesome opportunity to learn about finances and how to be responsible with money. It’s a win win!
D: How long has QUIrKEI Designs been in business?
V: I began selling my wire wrapped jewelry the summer of 2016 and the artwork followed in July of 2017.
D: Where do you sell your pieces?
V: I have had a lot of luck selling my artwork through my Facebook page, QUIrKEI Designs: Handmade Beach Glass Jewelry and Art. When I have time (mostly over summer break) I also sell at local craft fairs. I have sold my pieces in Batavia, Harvard, Gurnee, and Waukegan! I ship all over the country, from Florida to California, from Michigan to Massachusetts! It’s so cool to think that my artwork is being enjoyed all across the country! I also consign at a lovely little store in downtown Kenosha called Lulu Birds and recently I brought a couple pieces over to sell at Reclaimed Artisans Inc. in Libertyville. They will be getting more pieces soon!
D: Is there a particular piece that is your favorite?
V: Over the summer I found the glass handle of a jug and it is in the shape of a “C”, which is the first letter of my last name. That is my favorite wire wrapped necklace piece. I just recently went to the beach (yes, in January) and as I was walking, I looked down and saw what looked like a black rock. Something told me there was something special about this rock, and even though I wouldn’t normally take the time to pick up a rock (as it wasn’t flat or thin enough to be used for my artwork), I picked it up anyways. Then I held it up to the sun and it wasn’t a rock at all. It was the most beautiful piece of dark teal green. But what I love about it is that if you don’t hold it up to the light, it just looks like a plain old black rock. It is the most beautiful piece I’ve ever seen.
D: Other than your own beach glass creations, what kind of art do you have on display in your home?
V: My kids’ artwork! Pictures of my family, and a couple pieces I have painted while out with friends.
D: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your work/process that I didn’t hit upon?
V: I love doing custom beach glass bird family orders, so please feel fee to contact me through my Facebook page! Thank you for the opportunity to share my passion and love of beach glass!
To see more QUIrKEI Designs and get your own, go to https://www.facebook.com/quirkeidesigns/. Note: You can view this page even if you do not have a Facebook account. But, if you do, be sure to Like and Follow QUIrKEI Designs to get the latest updates on where you can meet Vita, see her pieces in person, and even buy some for yourself. They are a great idea for holiday gifts too!