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Bead artist Cindy Caraway

I'm Cindy Caraway, I live in Dubuque, Iowa, USA. Beading came to me during a time of great change in my life. It all started when I took a teaching job in Arizona. Being a long way from home (Iowa) and not knowing too any people, I was interested in finding a new hobby. During a trip to the library, I came upon a book about making black wire jewelry.

I really enjoyed it and started making necklaces, pendants and bracelets and sold several in a local record store. A friend suggested I add beads for interest and that was the beginning of the end! I got more interested in the beads and ultimately dropped the wire altogether. The beads just kept getting smaller and smaller and my love of beadweaving was born.

Bead artwork by Cindy Caraway
click to see gallery

Believe it or not, the first time I wrapped peyote stitch around a cabochon, I thought I had invented it! What a rude awakening when I realized that the Native Americans (among others) had been doing it for centuries! Once I realized there was a world of beadweaving out there, I started looking for books and such.

I am not good at diagrams so it's a miracle I ever learned any of the skills I do have. I would say that Carol Wilcox Wells' book "Creative Bead Weaving" was a true epiphany about the artistic possibilities of beadwork. I used to be a bead weaver exclusively but now enjoy bead embroidery better and have started dabbling in fiber. Hopefully I will be able to meld those all into something unique!

Bead artwork by Cindy Caraway
click to see gallery

As you can tell, I enjoy making large pieces and, while I have never kept track of the hours spent on a particular piece, I know they take tens of hours to complete. I try to budget 2 hours a day for beadwork but, like I said before, I don't work well "on the clock". When I really get going on a piece, though, I can spend the whole day completely lost in it.

Some of my favorite pieces belong to my mother and I don't even have photos of them in my portfolio! (Hmm... I should do that.) I really love "Canyonlands". It was the first piece that really garnered any attention or awards so it holds a special place in my heart.

Bead artwork by Cindy Caraway
click to see gallery

I find inspiration for my work just about everywhere. Songs, poetry, movies, nature, architecture, abstract artwork. I am incredibly inspired by other artists - particularly those whose mediums are mixed media, collage or assemblage. These are art forms I have only dabbled in and left behind but LOVE to look at.

My favorite well known artists comprise an eclectic group which includes Frank Gehry (architect), Frank Lloyd Wright (architect) and Chuck Jones (cartoonist/director). The list of bead artists I admire is endless and getting longer all the time. There are too many names to mention!!

Bead artwork by Cindy Caraway
click to see gallery

Another thing that helps my creativity is TIME which I seem to have none of lately. It's hard to for me to be creative on the clock. My ideas have to simmer for a while before I start picking through my stash and putting together a soup of sorts. I also love to listen to music while I work but, being a singer, I can't listen to songs with words because my thoughts are always on the lyrics.

I love classical music - especially Mozart and Bach. I find it energizing but not too frantic. I also enjoy listening to Windham Hill artists - my favorite is Liz Story. (Cindy & Dan Caraway are an acoustic duo featuring a sparkling blend of guitar and vocals. They perform an eclectic mix of musical styles including jazz, pop and country and put their own unique spin on classic favorites. - note by

Bead artwork by Cindy Caraway
click to see gallery

When not beading or singing my favorite thing is to go out in our small fishing boat. I love fishing! It actually fuels my creativity to be out on the Mississippi River. Just having the time to sit still and breath the fresh air really does the soul good. And having a nice fresh fish dinner isn't so bad either.

While my work has been featured in gallery shows and craft publications, I find the most satisfaction by selling my artwork at fine art and craft fairs. It's such a pleasure to meet people in person and talk about that which I love! I hope I will be beading and creating for many, many years and look forward to sending beautiful wearable art off to new homes.

My gallery on

About author:

Cindy Caraway, Dubuque, Iowa, USA
Etsy Store:Designs by Cindy Caraway
Etsy Store:Caraway Cache Vintage Goodies

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