Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Oct. 14, 2002

A family of artists, mother and daughter share beading hobby

By Julie Yurek

Using their creativity to design and produce beaded jewelry, Mary Schmidt, of rural Winsted, and her youngest daughter, Maggie, 14, take pleasure in their hobby.

Mary began beading three years ago. Maggie started one year ago when when she was homebound due to illness. She is an eighth grader at Lester Prairie Schools.

Maggie is always on the go, always has to be doing something, Mary said.

"The (jewelry) table was up here (living room), so I just started to bead," Maggie said. "It was better than watching TV."

Last year the duo attended area craft sales and fairs to sell their necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. They set up at Howard Lake, Waconia, the Prairie Arts Festival in Lester Prairie, and twice in Minneapolis.

At the Prairie Arts Festival, Mary and Maggie brought supplies for customers to try a hand at making their own jewelry.

"We had a lot of boys come to the table," Mary said. "We had quite a few masculine pieces for them to choose from."

Items such as crosses and circular center stones with Aztec designs were popular among the boys, Mary said.

Mary and Maggie buy the stones and beads from a marketplace in the cities, Mary said. "It's a market for people who do jewelry or beaded work."

The beads and stones are bought in strands at the market, Mary said. Some of the semi-precious stones that the Schmidts use include lapis lazuli, which is blue with gold flecks, tiger eye, athemyst, hematite, labradorite, jasper, snowflake obsidian, and moss agate. They also buy bone and shell pieces to incorporate in the piece.

To begin designing a necklace, Maggie chooses a center stone or bead that will be the focal point. It could be anything from a stone turtle to an unusually shaped bead, she said. Then, accent beads are slid into place until the jewelry is complete.

Necklaces can be made with either elastic or non-elastic string. The non-elastic string requires a clasp so it can be put on.

"It's easier to string beads onto the non-elastic string. The elastic stuff makes it difficult because it isn't stiff," Maggie said.

Jewelry making is something almost the entire Schmidt family has tried. Mary's middle daughter, Katie, 18, also beads, but she doesn't sell her work, Mary said.

"She does it more for gifts for friends," Maggie added.

Mary's oldest son, Christian, 20, made silver rings at one time, but he just made them for more himself, Mary said.

The family's creative energy most likely comes from the children's grandfather, the late Christian Schmidt, who was a global jeweler, according to Mary.

He taught art in Minneapolis in the 1960s and wrote a textbook, "Encounter with Art, "which Christian used in college, Mary said.

Beading is not the only activity that engages Mary and Maggie. "It's more of a winter hobby," Mary said. The two have other outlets for their creative sides.

Maggie is busy pursuing her acting passion; she has starred in about half a dozen plays, acted at the Renaissance Festival as a hawker and a fairy, and has attended acting classes at the Children's Theater.

Though she has a couple more years before she goes, Maggie is beginning to look at post-secondary options so she can pursue her acting career.

"I've known since I was three years old that I wanted to act," Maggie said with a grin. "I'd also like to take some drawing classes."

The classes would only enhance Maggie's natural abilities. She is currently working on designs for a tattoo for Katie, she said.

Mary channels her energy to her hands. She owns and operates a greenhouse on the 14 acre farm that she and husband, Gray, own.

"I keep quite busy with the greenhouse in the spring and summer," Mary said. A third of the plants that Mary grows and cares for goes to her private clients, another third goes to other gardeners and landscapers, and the remaining third goes to market in Delano and Excelsior.

Gray also takes to the land. He planted 300 tomato plants this year, Mary said. Next year he's planning on 1,000, she added.

The kind Gray grows are heirloom tomatoes, which means they have never been altered genetically, Mary said.

The majority of Gray's crop go to grocery stores in the cities who wanted homegrown tomatoes, Mary said. A smaller portion went to a restaurant in the metro area.

Gray and Mary are working to get their organic certification for the tomatoes, Mary said.

"It's his dream to farm," she said. Gray was a truck driver for 15 years and now works construction.

The family hopes farming will soon be a reality, Mary said.

The Schmidts moved from Excelsior to Winsted New Year's Eve in 1999.

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