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Artist Profile: Karen Paust

Artist: Karen Paust
Business name: Take me to your Beader
Location: Wellsville Pennsylvania

Karen Paust

Karen, how do you describe your work?
I create botanical jewelry and sculpture.

What is your creative process like?
I usually am inspired by something very complicated, something that challenges me. I do a lot of sketches and watercolors as studies for pieces. I collect material, dead insects even pull moths and butterflies off the grill of the car to use as samples. I would never kill an insect, so my bug collection is a little rough. I used to bead all the time, (sometimes 8-12 hours a day, sometimes 5 or 6 or 7 days a week), now I try to balance my life with other things I love to do.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I am completely self taught as a beader, but I did study painting, and also botany before I went to art school. I have always been trying to merge my love of nature and art together. I have been creating with my hands most of my life. I have crocheted and sewed at a very early age, and knitted soon after. The beauty of beading is that it reflects how the world is made up of little pieces of energy. Then in addition the light interacts so spectacularly with glass beads.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
My eyes, I am such a color junky, it would be very hard for me to not be able to see the endless combinations of colors.

What inspires you to create?
I can be inspired by dreams, day dreams, I’m always waiting for the next vision to flood my life. In between those I usually am inspired by nature. I am constantly amazed by the color combinations and shape of very common creatures. Many people have asked me to bead orchids, just look at a thistle that grows along the railroad tracks, it is every bit as beautiful as an orchid. I like putting a spotlight on the ordinary.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
I have a strong ability to finish projects, although I have some unfinished knitting projects sitting around. If I don’t like the direction the piece is going, I usually start over or try to figure out why the momentum is waning.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Experiment as much as possible, figure out what you are passionate about.

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
Wild mushroom hunting, camping, canoeing. I also make my own knitting needles, I recyle chopsticks and turn those into needles and I make circular needles from tubing, bullets and wood. I put beads inside the tubing, and my label is Fearlessknitting. If I need a button I make it from a piece of wood. I knitted a shoulder bag with different colored mountains and a blue sky and clouds so I carved a bird button to go on the bag as its closure.

What’s your favorite comfort food?
Pesto, I could eat it every day, I make big patches of it and freeze it for the winter, not in little ice-cube trays, in good size containers. I also invent new recipes, we grow these little tart oranges so I have been putting them in the pesto, best pesto ever. I also love watermellon.

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