Whether it be a serious business meeting or a light chat, a cup of coffee can set the mood for a conversation.
Artist Kristie Stephenson enjoys coffee and telling stories about her work, both of which will be on show at the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival on March 25.
“I’m a huge coffee lover — there’s something comforting about the way it smells and the ritual of making it,” said Stephenson about the brewed drink, said to be the second most consumed liquid on Earth, next to water.
The artist has been designing bracelets, necklaces and other jewellery made mostly of seeds since she returned to her native Jamaica in 2011.
She started taking the business seriously in 2014 after working with a team of artisans, some of whom have physical disabilities.
“I had a memory of these seeds from my grandfather when I was a small child,” Stephenson said of the seeds called Job’s tears. “In Florida, I had access to all these bead shops with semi-precious stones, but I found the seeds extremely fascinating.”
The artist doesn’t just make pieces of jewellery, she also shares stories about their significance.
Her beaded pieces are made of up to 95 per cent indigenous materials, while the charms or gemstones are of metal alloys such as pewter or magnesite, which are sourced abroad. They can be viewed on her website, storyandmyth.com, alongside interpretations of their origins and meanings.
Stephenson has created necklaces for people in the yoga community and others of varying religions and beliefs.
Her creations have sparked many conversations with people from various parts of the world who find similarities and interpretations to her work.
One of her favourite stories is that Job’s tears were used by the Maroons to locate caves in which they had hidden their children from the slave masters.
“You wouldn’t find that in the history books, but what the Maroons said is that in war times, they would hide their children in caves and leave a trail of the seeds to remind them where they had hidden their children when the war was over,” Stephenson said.
But not everyone reacts in the same way to her work.
“I will take the necklaces to some shows, and when some persons recognise the seed, they would immediately say they are not wearing John crow beads,” the self-taught artist disclosed, adding that she consciously coined the name blessing beads to rebrand them.
Whatever the reaction, Stephenson’s stunning pieces are great gift options and will be available at the Blue Mountain Coffee Festival in Newcastle, St Andrew, with plenty of stories — or myths — to inspire.