The One Who Taught Me To Wire Wrap Was More Than A Wire Artist. He Was A Grammy Winning Music Legend.
Once Upon A Time, I Was A Painter.
|Me Painting on wood
|Fallen Flower; acrylic on paper, 2006
I didn’t always used to wire wrap. In fact, I was a painter. I would blast the music, power up the coffee pot and get lost in amazing colors and my own vivid imagination.
I was once a lumber cashier who would scavange the scraps of lumber so I could have something to paint
I was living in Louisiana and just wanted to fill my tiny apartment with works of art.
But the winds of change blasted me all the way to Atlanta to meet a very talented and Grammy winning guitarist whose family became my own family.
Losing my home because my landlord wanted to sell to Kevin Costner’s movie crew was a major loss. I lost all my artwork among other things.
But, I was fortunate because many others lost so much more. Kevin Costner was supposed to film his 2006 movie, The Guardian in New Orleans, but Hurricane Katrina messed that up.
|Denise of Elegance Boutique
I was going from store to store in Atlanta’s Little 5 Points and stumbled into a studio of artists where a kind young lady bought my art then introduced me to Denise of Elegance Boutique.
As I parted the curtains, I walked into a wonderland of beautiful gemstones, jewelry, and creativity.
The guy that was making a beautiful pendant was a stranger, but he welcomed me and from that moment on, I knew my destiny was in this shop.
My random visit became a friendship with Denise and Daryl, who needed help setting up a Facebook page.
I would spend countless hours helping him with Twitter, Facebook and a website and learned that this jewelry designer was so much more.
Daryl Thompson was a genius at wire work, but his real artistry was in music.
|Photo of a young Daryl Thompson with Peter Tosh taken by Corbis Entertainment
He was the son of the great Eli Lucky Thompson who played the saxophone.
Daryl’s history in music floored me and when I first met him and Denise, I had no idea that the person talking to me had such an extensive history.
Daryl’s played as a lead guitarist for several of the greats of Reggae including Peter Tosh, Sly and Robbie, and even won a Grammy Award with The Black Uhuru.
Actor Matthew McConaughey sought him out to produce Mishka’s 2009 album, Above The Bones, which reigned at Number 1 on the Billboard Charts for Reggae.
Learning A New Art Form
|Photo of Daryl taken by YungGod
I did a lot in Atlanta. I started a nonprofit, took care of my dying mother and went through hell.
Being in and out of hospitals and working full time took its toll and painting was put on the back burner.
Denise and Daryl were a huge rock for me and taught me about healing crystals.
And Daryl inspired me to try a new art form, one I thought I would never be able to do.
Not only did he and Denise give me a lot of his beautiful artwork, but Daryl said to me,
“Johnna, I am going to give you a gift that will pay you in the future. This could be a career,”
He was right. There have been times when the difference between being on the streets or having a place to stay at night was one jewelry sale.
There have been times when selling one pair of earrings put food in the fridge. And this gift was my creative outlet when my mother was in hospice.
My Journey Back West
|My husband and I <3
After my mother passed, my situation went from bad to worse.
My job wasn’t enough to cover rent and a friend in Texas said I could stay with them.
Should I take the risk and give up my shaky situation in Atlanta for the unknown?
Denise and Daryl, of course, gave me gifts for the journey.
Needless to say, my journey had a lot of twists and turns.
I gained old friends, lost them, and the heartaches set me on a path to where I met my soulmate and now husband.
Honoring The Legacy of a Legend
|Rare Eudialyte wrapped by Daryl
I started this blog right when I moved to Texarkana in 2012.
The idea was to set up my own personal index of stones and blog about my jewelry.
I wanted to see how much I’ve grown and learn and a blog was a perfect way to do so.
But Daryl’s death was a huge game changer.
This became much more than a blog. It transformed into a legacy. Not for my name, but for Daryl’s.
You see, my own father told me he wanted nothing to do with me.
I remember being in the shop and talking to Denise about it. Daryl said, “You’ve got me and Denise. We’ll be your family,” and hugged me.
Daryl died the day before my one year wedding anniversary, on May 19, 2014. I didn’t find out until May 22. Denise wanted me to celebrate my anniversary without the bad news.
Losing someone who was so inspirational to me punched a hole in my heart and because of our financial situation at the time, I couldn’t even attend the memorial.
So on that day, I decided that this blog, this website, my jewelry designs would be so much more than just another wire artist on the web selling jewelry.
I do it to honor Daryl’s memory. I do it because he inspired me.
My work has a history behind it. When you purchase my jewelry, you are buying something that is part of a legacy.
I learned this skill from an artist who’s been on tour, performed on stage with some of the legends in Reggae. His blood, sweat, emotions and energy are all in his work.
And as his student, I only added my touch to the skill he taught me.
All the money I make from my sales go toward the purchase of jewelry supplies and the occasional bill (you know, internet, food, and stuff we need to live like coffee!)