Friends and fellow artists are always welcome at Sofia Stewart’s folk art cooperative community studio in Louisville, Colo., where she offers a space for bead working, weaving, sewing, glass fusing and embroidering – in a fun and friendly environment.
Sofia’s love of beading and socializing helped form the idea of the cooperative. Sofia and her parents like to describe it as a “loose idea of the ‘quilting bee.”
This format complements the lifestyle Sofia, 23, leads as a person with cerebral palsy. It allows Sophia to do work that she loves with the help of family and friends by her side.
The world of handwork truly makes Sofia happy.
“I meet people who can help me and share their ideas and excitement, and I share myself with them.”
By offering the space to all artists alike, Sofia is able to hold beading circles and beading parties. Sometimes she even takes it on the road.
She communicates with her customers and companions with her purple Talker and by finger spelling. To say hello, Sofia likes it when people put her ring on her finger.
“When she sees people, to say hello and interact, she flings her bling, and they put it on her middle finger,” Annette said.
The studio is also home to Sofia’s business, SOBeads. It was named after Sofia and her folk art.
Her colorful artwork blossomed when Annette gave Sofia some beads when she was 15. Although Sofia’s only able to use her left hand, the beading is something she can do well.
“I love bead,” she said.
Her love of beading helped land her first job, creating 250 wine glass charms for a wedding.
And that’s when she officially opened up shop.
“I did it!” Sofia said.
Sofia began selling her work in 2011 just after graduating high school.
Annette said Sofia can do a lot on her own, but sometimes she needs help with the materials she chooses for a project or with measuring and cutting.
Now her work includes bracelets, necklaces, rings and beaded curtains. She’s even expanded to weaving rustic fabrics and straps for bags that she sews as well as fused glass.
For the most part, all of Sofia’s creations are made from recycled materials, hand picked by herself and her friends.
Sofia sells her art at sobeads.biz. You can also find her work at conferences, like The Arc national convention, or at her friend’s local folk art store called, Bella Frida.