Stephanie Gould is a long time resident of the Ashland. Originally from Fall Church, Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C. she slowly made her way to Ashland by way of Berkeley, California. Falling in love with Oregon, and being a hippy at heart, she found herself in the Illinois Valley. There she raised her kids and found community in the renowned alternative village of Takilma, Oregon. She spent a total of 18 years in the Illinois Valley. With the encouragement of a long time friend, she made the move to Ashland 18 years ago and has been here ever since. She has been a member of Lithia Artisans Market for three years, and has expanded her horizons as an artisan and micro-business-woman. Walking into her booth on Calle Guanajuato is like going into two separate booths as she specializes in beaded jewelry (Dragonfly Creations), and body care products (Good Earth Company).
How long have you been creating your art form?
The art form I am currently doing right now, I have been doing for almost 4 years. But I had been doing bead stringing for several years before that, and I had been introduced to beads almost 20 years ago by a dear friend who was very passionate about beading.
What would you say is your main inspiration when you make your craft?
My inspiration is everything! I see colors everywhere, in nature and in man made objects. I am constantly coming up with color combination possibilities from what I see around me every day.
Where did you study art, or are you self taught?
I am, for the most part, self taught, except that I did take a class in bead weaving from a friend, Araya Pathwalker, almost 5years ago, and the inspiration she gave me, got me on the creative road that I am on now. I already had gathered quite a collection of beads over the previous years, more because I loved the colors and textures, than because I wanted to use them for projects.
What do you most enjoy or appreciate about selling at the Lithia Artisans Market?
I especially enjoy the camaraderie of all the amazing people I have gotten to know over the last 3 seasons. It really feels like a village or an extended family. And of course, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to sell my creations to the public every weekend.
Is there someone, or a specific time in your life, that inspired you to look for the artist within?
I have always been creative and artistic since I was really young. In high school I did not want to go any classes except the art lab. I don’t know where that comes from, because I don’t remember anyone else in my family being especially artistic. I have done many different things over the years that are of an artistic nature, and the beaded jewelry is just the latest discovery.
Your jewelry line is very unique. How do you describe your style?
Like I said before, I learned the basics of my technique from Araya, and have since developed some things that are entirely my own. I would call my work beaded embroidery, and some call it bead weaving. I also bead on cloth and on very soft leather. I have beaded eye glass cases and small bags, as well as a pair of moccasins that I have never gotten around to finishing. I am always eager to learn new things from more accomplished artists than myself.
Are you a full time artist or do you have a “day job”?
I am “retired” and so this is my full time occupation. The income from my jewelry and body care products help to supplement a rather meager monthly income.
In this down economy, how have you faired as an artisan?
Even though I started the market when the economy was probably at it’s worst, my business has slowly progressed and since I added the skin/body care line, things have been steadily improving. I seem to be developing a returning clientele. There are always good days and bad days, but on the whole I think that it has just been a slow steady improvement.
Where else can we find your art for sale (galleries, other shows that you are excited about, etc.)?
My work is currently sold at the Ashland Art Center both in the Gallery and in a new studio that I just opened to the public, on the lower level. It is Studio 4B. I am also looking into a wholesale website for later this winter.
What sets you apart from other artists in this medium?
There are not a lot of people doing beadwork to make a living here. However, there are a few, and they are very talented. My work is just unique enough to stand out, I suppose. I really enjoy doing large pieces, but lately I’ve been doing a lot of tiny, dainty pieces. Mostly because that seems to be what many customers want. I also do custom work. I think the answer to that question may be that I have a pretty good eye for color and their combinations. At least, that’s what a lot of my customers have been telling me.
Why did you pursue art as a way to make a living?
I have always been artistic and dreamed of one day being able to support myself with my art. Well, I am not there yet, but it does seem much more realistic to me these days.
Tell us something about you that has nothing to do with your art…
I am an avid gardener, and I like to preserve as much of the produce as possible. I am in the middle of canning tomato sauce as I write this.
Tell us about your body care products. How are they made, why should people use them?
I have been making the skin and body care products for almost 17 years. I tried to market them, unsuccessfully for a few years. There is a lot of information that has to be given out, and often people have to be educated about natural versus mainstream, herbs and their uses, and what the human body needs to be nurtured and healed. I think that I just got exhausted from all that. The jewelry sells itself, the chemical-free skin care, not so much. However, now I have been very happy to be able to bring the skin care products to the market. After all, that was my first love.
Those products include a salve that is specifically for almost all skin issues, a salve that is formulated for the muscles and joints, and another one that is for athlete’s foot, or other types of fungus and bacterial problems. I also make a creamy body lotion, with the same healing herbs in it that the skin salve contains. And finally, I make a deodorant that is completely natural, without any chemicals or preservatives added. There will probably be some new additions by next spring, as well.
To visit with Stephanie and purchase her unique items come to the Lithia Artisans Market, weekends along Ashland Creek, behind the plaza from mid-April until the end of October. For more about the market visit us at LithiaArtisansMarket.com or find us on facebook… facebook.com/LithiaArtisansMarket.
Lithia Artisans Market