Barista’s artistic journey took her from brewing to biking to beading
By Debora Gordon
Inspired by “the colorful, beautiful world we live in,” Emily Wood found herself determined to capture it, “one bead at a time.”
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, her artistic journey began with a knitting class she took with her mother. About three years ago she started her beading work, viewing YouTube videos to learn.
After managing the Boundary Bay Brewery in Washington for about 20 years, COVID started, the brewery shut down and she chose not to go back. Instead the mother of five moved to Ashland in July 2022, where she’s now a part-time barista at Rogue Valley Roasting Company (RoCo) when she’s not spending hours per day creating her jewelry.
And now she’s also “the hands behind your handmade” beaded jewelry available through the Pedalcreations business and website she recently launched.
“Each piece I create is handmade over many hours and days, bead-by-bead, completely from my imagination,” Wood said. “I do not use templates or graph paper. I allow the colors and patterns to form as I go.”
Part of her motivation to begin beading was just noticing beads all around her.
“I was just drawn to it by seeing people wear it and I think the way you do it; it feels like knitting too, it’s kind of similar,” she said. “I liked coming up with my own patterns. I like the process of picking up the beads. I’ve done the designs by sketching and I have patterns. Although each piece is different, they’re all the same vibe. I don’t follow a pattern; I create it organically. I have designs.”
Wood sells everything she makes.
“I have never kept a pair,” she said. “I’ve sold every pair I’ve ever made. I wear them as I go,” noting that even the ones she may be seen wearing will eventually be sold (she changes out the ear hooks). “I was just drawn to it by seeing people wear beads and I think the way you do it; it feels like knitting too. I like coming up with my own patterns. I like the process of picking up the beads.”
She also takes pride in the unique quality of her art. “My things are all one of a kind; the designs are unique to me, I love doing it, it’s my passion. I just like the whole lifestyle that comes with being an artist, and I also recognize that I might not always have been able to make these choices, it’s a bit of a privilege to make them.”
Beading and cycling are her main activities. She explains it can take four to six hours or more to make a pair of earrings, so time might allow her to produce eight to 10 pair per week.
“You will typically find me beading in my home studio, traversing nature on my mountain bike or working on the occasional knitting project,” she said. The cycling led to her choice of website’s name, “Pedalcreations.”
“I am mountain biker; I spend a lot of time riding bikes with my husband,” Wood said. “I based my brand around that idea. I make the small triangle; people wear them while they’re riding; I tie that together.
“I love doing it; I will keep doing it as long as my hands and eyes will keep up with it. I want to be able to make my big artisan pieces; it takes a long time to build, to trust and build quality.”
It’s what she loves to do. As she puts it, “It’s my life’s work.”
Ashland Creatives features writers, artists, musicians, actors and other creatives who live in Ashland. Email Debora Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a creative artist or would like to suggest someone to feature.
Debora Gordon is a writer, artist, educator and non-violence activist who recently moved to Ashland from Oakland, California.