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Conversations with Genea Crivello

Today we’d like to introduce you to Genea Crivello.

Hi Genea, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My love of jewelry began after going to San Fransisco with my mom on a trip to visit my uncle, where I started my bead collection at age 12. At age 15, I was the youngest applicant to be accepted for a local art show in my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, where I opened a business called United Colors Wearable Art where I created polymer clay jewelry with my mom.

I created jewelry for many years and ended up working at a local bead store in Kansas City called Bead Boutique. My boss was taking a class in making glass beads. Since I was already making jewelry, I thought this was the next logical step and was thrilled with the idea of creating my own glass beads for my jewelry. The rest, as they say, is history as I fell madly in love with glass. She became my mistress and has captured my heart ever since December of 2002.

I began selling my beads in 2004 at Bead Boutique in North Kansas City. Shortly after, I moved to Colorado and worked at another bead store called Bead Cache in Fort Collins, CO, where I also sold my beads and refined my art. I returned to Kansas City and Bead Boutique in 2006, where I continued to make and sell my beads as well as teach jewelry classes.

In 2009, I connected with Creation is Messy, where I became a glass tester. I upgraded my torch and continued to develop my glass knowledge and skills. In 2012 after returning from one year of living in Portland, Oregon, I connected with a Facebook group called Creative Bead Chat where I met many amazing artists and friends. I collaborated and got my work into various bead publications such as: Beadwork, Bead & Button, Bead Style, and Belle Armoire Jewelry. I did many collaborations with artists and made my way to Bead Fest Philidelphia bead show in 2013. It was an honor to vend and teach at one of the largest bead shows in the nation. I continued selling my beads and jewelry to designers and customers until the bead community started to see a turn in the cancellation of shows and beading publications. In 2015, I went through a big life change and rebranded Genea Beads to Third Eye Gypsy. As bead sales began to decline over the following years, I decided I needed to find a new path in glass, so I reached out to a model, photographer, and influencer named Morgin Riley. She showcased many artist’s works giving them great exposure to her wonderful following of clients which included a huge following in the dreadlock community. It was this point that I began to focus my talents on creating flameworked glass dreadlock beads and festival jewelry where my work continues to expand today.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Things have definitely been a challenge along the way. I’d say social media becoming more affected by algorithms and selling ads really put a wrench in things. I remember in 2007 when I first opened my Etsy shop, I was flooded with organic sales as the internet searches directed people to my shop easily. There was even a free keyword tool from Google and it showed you all of the sources for your traffic. Getting people’s eyes on my work has been my biggest struggle throughout my career. Making good art isn’t enough these days. As a business owner, you have to wear so many hats. Now artists not only need to create good art, but they also need to have stellar photos, create good digital content and need to be able to market themselves as well as navigate many social media platforms.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a flamework glass bead artist. I create flameworked glass beads on a glass torch. The beads are then put into a kiln to anneal (which strengthens and hardens the glass). I currently specialize in making glass dread beads and festival jewelry. I am most proud of my art, always expanding and adapting as I navigate the world around me. I believe my bead-making skills from designing beads for my jewelry and other designers have allowed me to take that creativity and add it to dread beads. Creating dread beads has allowed me to connect deeply with others as they grown into their most authentic selves. I am able to create art that they use to express their unique style and that means the world to me to connect with people on such a deep level.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
I expect to further expand my dread beads and festival jewelry as music festivals begin opening up again. I intend to upgrade my torch to allow me to work in boro since I currently only work in soft glass. I believe expanding to working in boro will allow me to create larger-scale glass pieces and even go into creating smoking pieces as the cannabis community grows and expands. I’d love to have a space to teach students glass since I have so much knowledge and wisdom to share.

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Image Credits

The image of the close up of the glass bead in the torch flame was either Evan Youngblood or Nicole Parigo.

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