Gwynneth Nelson has called Williams Lake home since 1967.
Born in Vernon, B.C. the 78-year-old and her husband Rick Nelson are retired teachers.
When they attended a recruiting session with different school districts and said they wanted to go to a community where they could both get jobs, Williams Lake fit the bill, she said.
“We moved up here and my husband got his first job at Columneetza, the first year it was built.”
Her first teaching position was at Poplar Glade Elementary, which in those days was on the outskirts of town.
Williams Lake was quite different then and she remembers the street to Columneetza was not paved, but gravel.
Not too far from Poplar Glade there was a dairy.
Sometimes the cows would get outside of the fence from the dairy and pay the school a visit.
“I would look out my classroom and there would be a cow rubbing its nose against the window ” Nelson recalled, smiling.
“I’d send one of the students to go down to the office to tell the secretary to call the dairy manager to come and get his cows. It was a lot of fun.”
Aside from helping raise their two daughters and teaching, Nelson has always loved doing things with her hands and things that were a ‘little unusual.’
At first she learned the art of First Nations beading, which she did for many years.
One year she inherited a ‘huge’ box of costume jewelry from her mother’s older sister and wondered what she would do with it.
“The costume jewelry of older days is a lot nicer than the newer and I thought I am going to make jewelry. I like bright colours so I started making my own jewelry to wear that matched.”
After she retired, she was creating more jewelry and then a friend encouraged her to sell some.
She started 10,000 Beads around 2010, a hobby business where she re-purposes and handcrafts jewelry.
On Saturday, Dec. 18, she was a vendor at the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin Country Moments and Memories Christmas Event.
“Everything in my booth is made from something that has had a previous owner, except for my herbs which I grow and dry,” she said during the event, noting her creations are pretty much one-of-a-kind.
In the past she has done workshops on how to detox your jewelry box.
“I would go to people’s homes and they would put out all their jewelry. I would help them sort through it into stuff they don’t want anymore, stuff that needs to be garbage and stuff that can be refashioned or repaired that they have inherited.”
She loves the challenge of remodelling older pieces and said charm bracelets are a perfect example.
“They aren’t in anymore and they are kind of gaudy so what I say to people is keep three or four of the cute charms you have on there, let’s get rid of everything else and put on some cute beads, pearls and things to glitz it up.”
Instead of throwing anything away, she makes kits for children with the beads she has leftover and sell those as well.
“I always look out for cute pendants that I can include, I add elastic thread and the instructions,” she explained.
Another thing she makes are small reusable Christmas trees that are decorated and can fit on a side table.
The only new thing on the trees are the lights.
When she was volunteering at Seniors Village, Janet Catalano was the recreation co-ordinator and told her the seniors needed little trees for their apartments so that was how she got started making them.
For 30 years she has volunteered at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, but said she is looking to do something different.
“I haven’t found my niche yet, but I like to be kept busy.”
As for the jewelry making, it continues to bring her lots of joy, she said.
“I am having fun.”
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