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East County Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 7 months ago

Fall Art Show and Sale will be hosted by the Creative Arts Association of Lakewood Ranch on Saturday.

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Lakewood Ranch woman masters the craft of beading jewelry that will be on display at Fall Art Show and Sale.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

Granny's bed couldn't survive Elaine Vaughn's love of crafting jewelry.

Lakewood Ranch's Vaughn was convinced 10 years ago that her crafting hobbies were set. She loved quilting and making baskets, so when her friend, Sonia Lacson, asked her to attend her jewelry-making class, she said she wasn't interested.

Lacson, who now lives in Lakewood Ranch but then owned a home in Sarasota,  pushed a little more until Vaughn finally decided to make her happy by going.

The demonstration that day was stringing beads to make a "Russian Spiral." Vaughn started the project at Lacson's home, but had to take it with her to finish.

"It was too loose," Vaughn said of the beads in her first project. "I didn't pull it tight enough."

She might not have created a work of art in that first effort, but she was hooked. And she has been creating beaded jewelry works of art ever since.

Her enthusiasm caused her to take her grandmother's bed, which had been handed down through the generations, and get rid of it to clear up a spare room to become a craft studio. Vaughn had a place to work, and a new hobby, and Jessie Mae Lawrence's bed was gone.

"This is where it all happens," Vaughn said with a laugh as she entered the craft room at her home.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Lakewood Ranch Town Hall. Vaughn will be showing her creations at the 19th Fall Art Show and Sale, hosted by the Creative Arts Association of Lakewood Ranch. The show features works by local artists in mediums that include painting, stained glass, fiber art, ceramics and jewelry. Admission is free and masks are required.

Although she only does two or three shows a year, Vaughn said that selling her jewelry was one of the most satisfying aspects of her hobby. It doesn't have anything to do with the modest prices she charges.

Elaine Vaughn's jewelry will be on display at the Fall Art Show and Sale Nov. 20 at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

"When I see someone wearing a necklace that I had made, it brings joy to me," she said.

A lot of care goes into her jewelry.

"I use top quality materials," she said of the beads and the clasps. "That is so important. In Florida, you have to watch what you use because of the humidity."

She shops only local bead stores, such as Knot Awl Beads at Main Street at Lakewood Ranch. The former owner of a gift baskets and floral shop in Roanoke, Va.,Vaughn loves to support local business people. 

He had operated her own shop for 10 years in Roanoke when her husband, Joe Vaughn, made the declaration, "I want to move to Florida."

That was in 2004.

They have lived in the same Lakewood Ranch home since.

Once Elaine Vaughn started making jewelry, she said her husband does "get after her" about not wearing the nice jewelry that he gave her.  It's all in fun, though, because Joe Vaughn always has been supportive of her hobbies, and even now he drills the holes in the sea shells she finds to make necklaces or bracelets.

Besides the fact she loves wearing the jewelry she makes, Elaine Vaughn has other reasons to wear it. For one, before she sells anything, she wears it to make sure "nothing is sticking out, and nothing scratches you."

Next, she does a lot of business just walking down the street when someone notices her jewelry. The lion's share of her sales comes in that manner.

She doesn't do any sales online because she has heard horror stories and she worries that one nasty customer is all it could take to damage her jewelry making reputation.

Some works of art she creates simply aren't for sale. She made one necklace she simply loved, working on it for three weeks, almost all day each of those days. A woman begged her to sell it and she finally did.

But she felt so bad about the sale she made herself another one, and she has no intention of parting ways with it.

Although she wouldn't reveal her age, Vaughn is definitely a senior who still has a good eye to thread the very small beads.

I thank God every day I can do it," she said.

Asked what makes her jewelry special, she said "I am a designer."

Her designing ability was affirmed when some of her customers asked her to string beads in different colors to recreate a necklace she was wearing.

"I pick out all the colors that go together," she said. "Sometimes a person will say, 'I want this necklace in purple and green.' But it just doesn't look good after I make it."

When she does made a sale, she donates 40% of the price to to the Child Evangelism Fellowship.

"It is something I enjoy doing," she said.

She is looking forward to the Fall Art Show and Sale because she loves meeting people and chatting with them. She also enjoy looking at the creations of her fellow artists.

Her grandma's bed might be gone, but Vaughn still passes along some of her wisdom to shoppers.

"She told me one time, 'Don't ever match your earrings, you necklace and your braclet,'" Vaughn said. "'She said, 'It makes you look like you got them on sale.'"

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