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An Eye for Art: Finksburg bead artist enjoys going into ‘another world’ while designing

Bead artist Judy Goodyear is a founding partner of Off Track Art Co-operative and Gallery at 11 Liberty Street in Westminster.
Bead artist Judy Goodyear is a founding partner of Off Track Art Co-operative and Gallery at 11 Liberty Street in Westminster. (Courtesy David Stambaugh)

Judy Goodyear is a jeweler, whose home and studio near Finksburg are on a property that has been in her husband’s family since 1854. Jewelry is in her genes. Her father and grandfather had a jewelry business, John Schumacher, Inc. in Manhattan, for over 100 years.

“Because we lived in New Jersey and my father’s business was in Manhattan, my father brought home jewelry to show customers. He might bring home five diamond or ruby rings or necklaces set in platinum or gold,” Goodyear said. “My father showed them to my mother and me but soon they seemed boring to me. I only thought of them as colored glass.

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"But I did like costume jewelry as a child! According to my mother, my third grade autobiography listed my hobbies as dogs, dolls and jewelry.”

From 1968-1971, Goodyear lived in San Francisco, working as a flight attendant. International travel was a benefit allowing her exposure to a variety of design influences leading to an appreciation of Japanese art and craft. During this time, Goodyear became a member of the San Francisco Gem and Mineral Society (smgms.com), did lapidary work (the cutting, shaping, and polishing of precious and semi-precious stones) and went on rock hunting expeditions.

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A change of career and a move to Baltimore opened up new horizons. Goodyear worked as a librarian for Baltimore County Public Library and began studying silver-smithing with John Fix, the jewelry instructor at what was then Towson State College.

Having completed courses with Fix, Goodyear was inspired to enter the fine arts program at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA.edu). While at the Institute, Goodyear had the opportunity to live in Brazil for a year which gave her exposure to yet another fascinating culture that influenced her. After graduating from MICA in 1986, she became an art librarian at the Enoch Pratt Central Library, Fine Arts Dept.

Her stint at Pratt was followed by a job as a librarian liaison to the arts faculty at Carroll Community College for 21 years.

Goodyear heard about Common Ground on the Hill (mcdaniel.edu) where for three weeks in the summer, artists, musicians, craftspeople and lecturers teach classes, hold concerts and interact with a variety of cultures. Goodyear signed up for a seed bead weaving class. Seed beads are typically small beads that can be strung, woven or even embroidered to make a wide range of jewelry.

Inspired, she joined the Baltimore Bead Society (baltimorebead.org). Goodyear taught classes for the BBS and has been a member of their Board of Directors and their librarian. The BBS offers inexpensive classes, workshops, programs and educational meetings and provides an opportunity for those who love beads to interact.

According to Goodyear, members are known to pick out their jewelry first and then pick out clothes to match it. Goodyear said she loves being surrounded at a meeting by a hundred or so other bead fanatics. The BBS also holds an annual Winter Bead and Jewelry Show in January which is held at the Howard County Fairgrounds and includes demonstrations, workshops, and vendors.

Goodyear is a founding partner of Off Track Art Co-operative and Gallery at 11 Liberty Street in Westminster (offtrackart.com). As a co-op, it is managed and run by the partner artists.

“We share the rent and working there,” Goodyear explained. “We show a variety of media including paintings, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry and fiber. It has inspired me to work harder on my art knowing that I had a place where it would be displayed and seen.”

Seeing the work of other artists and discussions with them was very important to her since working alone in a studio can be very isolating and she also enjoyed chatting with visitors to the gallery.

Goodyear makes some of her beads but also collects beads from local artists as well as from throughout the United States and from all over the world. Semi-precious and precious stones like aquamarines, jasper, quartz, lava, agate, carnelian, lapis lazuli, and onyx come from overseas. Some of her beads are made in Nepal, India, Africa, Australia and Afghanistan. Glass beads may come from China or Czechoslovakia. She buys her lamp worked beads — beads created by melting glass with a torch and shaping the hot glass ― locally.

Goodyear enjoys selecting the beads and buys most of them at shows rather than online so she can easily see the color and quality for herself.

“I love designing. I have a fascination with color and pattern. I am in another world when I am working. I have thousands of beads in my large studio and I usually spend hours working out what I think is the best design," she said.

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All of my designs are one-of-a-kind and made with high-quality materials. She says sometimes she doesn’t want to part with them when they are completed.

Goodyear makes jewelry in a variety of ways. For example, she crochets the tiniest of seed beads into the shape of a necklace which can take more than 20 hours to complete. First she strings the beads on fiber in a pattern. Then she crochets them together. As with most artists, she never really gets paid for all her time but enjoys the process of creating. She also does some metal work, strings beads and does off loom seed bead weaving which is done with a needle and fiber. Goodyear makes earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

Goodyear has shown work in group shows in the Scott Gallery of Carroll Community College, members’ shows at the Carroll County Arts Council, where she was given an Award of Excellence and sells her work at various other local shows. In addition to her artistic pursuits, Goodyear has been a volunteer tutor at the Literacy Council of Carroll County which she says is “extremely rewarding because she gets to help people, meets other Carroll Countians and learn about people from all over the world.”

She can be contacted at goodyearforbeads@gmail.com. Her webpage is goodyearforbeads.com.

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