A $5 bucket of assorted rocks and gems 15 years ago led David Doyle to a second career as a jewelry designer.
The retired property manager, originally from New York, has been creating unique wire wrapped gemstone jewelry since shortly after he bought that first bucket of rocks at Gem Mountain in Spruce Pine, N.C. He bought a few instructional videos, some gold and silver wire and some small craft pliers and began wrapping the wire around his cut and polished stones to create pendants and rings. He also crafts bracelets from the wire, bending each piece by hand."I went for a $5 bucket and graduated up to the $110 buckets," Doyle said. "Once you start sifting out the rocks you're addicted to it."Doyle and his wife Connie spent time in New York, North Carolina and Florida before settling in Sun City in Indian Land. They even ran a small jewelry store in Florida. Now they focus more on craft and art shows in the region. In addition to his original creations, Doyle will create custom pieces using stones or old cameos that customers bring in. He also has the equipment to cut and polish precious and semi precious gems into gleaming faceted stones."The beauty of it is any time you take a stone like this and go further, you can make whatever you want out of it," Doyle said. "It doesn't have to be perfect because anything handmade isn't letter perfect."Within an hour, Doyle can take a cabochon (a round or oval stone, flat on one side with a polished dome surface on the other) and four or more strands of wire and turn it into a pendant. He uses simple tools: Small pliers, a wooden mallet and a pocket knife. Examples of his work are featured in a short video clip atwww.coolcatguide.com/catlisting.cfm?ContactID=24.
People will be able to watch him in action during Art on Main in downtown Fort Mill this Saturday. He and Connie plan to set up an interactive booth where he'll demonstrate his art and kids will be able to create some of their own, Connie Doyle said. For $5, children will be able to make a pair of earrings at the booth with glass, plastic and stone beads."It's always very popular," she said."Normally when kids come to these things there's very little for them to do," he added.Doyle has long held an interest in rocks and gems, and he loves to pass along his knowledge to others, especially young people, who share his interest."You progress from one stage to another. Before you know it, you get deeper and deeper into it," he said. "It draws you in. You pick up knowledge all over the place and you share your knowledge. Everybody learns from somebody."He said joining a gem and mineral club is a great way to begin learning about and collecting gems.Making jewelry started as a hobby, but it has turned into a second career, though Doyle said he only does it part time. But he can sit for hours cutting and shaping his stones and wire, Connie Doyle said.Likewise, she can spend hours stringing natural stone beads into necklaces and bracelets."You have to have some artistic ability, over time you develop it," he said. "When I look back over 15 years at the first ones I did to the ones I'm doing now, they're very different. You hone your skills and the world is your oyster."