Making jewelry and making money seems like the perfect combination for folks at Creative Magnetic Artists.
The company, part of Residential Support Services in Billings, Mont., advocates for choices and quality of life for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Making the jewelry is the artist’s choice,” Tammy Remmick, day program coordinator for Residential Support Services, said. “They decide if they want to make it or not. It is the person’s decision to make a bracelet, necklace or an anklet. The artist decides the design and the color of the beads as well.”
The artist’s disability is not a barrier, Remmick said.
“We allow them to do whatever step in the process of making the jewelry they are capable of.”
For example, people who can’t use their hands can still choose the design, color and whether the piece of the jewelry is an anklet, necklace or bracelet. It is also the artist’s choice to go to arts and craft shows.
“This is one way to get our artists out into the community,” Remmick said. “Also, when the artists receive their check from the sale of their jewelry, they love going out to the various stores to spend it.”
Glen Williams is one of RSS’s busiest artists.
Asked how he feels about making the magnetic jewelry, the 65-year-old said, “It makes me happy. I like to make different designs.”
He also enjoys displaying his work at arts and crafts shows.
“I like it when the people ask me who made them, then I can tell them I did,” Williams said, who showed his wares at The Arc National Conference in New Orleans in October.
When he was reminded of how busy he was and that he had to make many custom orders in a short time, Williams laughed and said, “Oh yeah, my thumb gave out!”
“With the help of fundraising, we were able to send two staff and one of our artists’ to The Arc Convention where they showcased our products at the convention along with other adults with I/DD on Entrepreneur Alley,” Remmick said.
The artists also participate in arts and crafts shows in Billings throughout the year.
In order to make the jewelry, Williams and his fellow artists follow these steps after deciding on a design:
- Gather beads needed for the item
- Place the beads on a metal pan
- Measure and cut copolymer cord
- Attach a magnetic tubes/clasp to one end of the cord
- Use heat source to make a knot
- Place beads on the copolymer cord in the order of the design you chose, checking your work as you go.
When the artists finish a piece, they recheck their work to make sure the pattern is correct. If the pattern is correct, they attach the other magnetic tube/clasp, making sure the polar ends of the tubes/clasps are opposite. Then they use a heat source to form a knot.
Creative Magnetic Artists has a small store in its activity center in Billings. The store is open five days a week.
Besides jewelry, the store features other handmade items:
- Rugs made out of old clothing
- Dog rope-toys made out of old clothing
- Car air fresheners with essential oils
- Tie-dyed onesies, shirts and socks
- Children’s headbands
- Rice bags with and without essential oils
- Tie-dyed throw blankets
Creative Magnetic Artist’s has been featured in The Arc’s newsletter, Fusion. Other vendors that have booths at arts and crafts shows have put pictures of CMA’s booth on their websites. The business also has jewelry on consignment at businesses throughout Billings.