A Woman of Many Hats
Sun City Center – Charmaine Hoit, born and raised in this area, has worn many different career hats in her life, but it’s the latest welder’s mask that she loves the most. In retirement she’s turned to creating exquisite wearable art from gold, silver, beads and antique silverware pieces.
After a career in IT for 23 years, a second career as a massage therapist (10 years), and a third career in payroll (12 years), Charmaine now spends her days researching, learning, designing and hand-crafting wearable art.
Like many artists, Charmaine’s art began as a hobby and a creative outlet. She and her husband were living in South Carolina when Charmaine’s then 92 year old mother-in-law came to live with them.
“She was mobile,” Charmaine says, “but needed support.” Fortunately, Charmaine’s job was flexible enough that she could work from 6AM-2PM and then be home with her mother-in-law in the afternoon.
“Within a few days I knew I needed a hobby,” Charmaine says. “I couldn’t just sit around the house for hours at a time.” Charmaine began making beaded jewelry, teaching herself along the way.
One thing led to another. Colleagues at the plant where Charmaine worked began admiring the beaded necklaces she had made. Then they began buying them. Around the holidays Charmaine sold up to 100 necklaces at cost, adding an extra $5.00 to each sale. Charmaine used the surplus proceeds to help local families in need at Christmas.
From Retirement to Full-Time Artist
Three years ago Charmaine and her husband retired and returned to Sun City Center.
“Retiring was the hardest thing,” Charmaine says. “I had no place to go or be. Nobody cared what time I got up. I had no structure to my day. I knew I couldn’t go on like this.”
So, Charmaine got busy. Today, she wakes early and heads to the pool at 6:00AM each day for her morning exercise. The rest of her day is spent creating.
“I love cooking and working in my garden and I love making jewelry,” she says. “Anything I can do with my hands I love.”
From Beads to Gold and Silver
While Charmaine continues to make beaded jewelry she’s graduated to more difficult methods. “I love learning new things constantly,” Charmaine says.
She’s currently learning to make wire-wrap jewelry through the Sun City Center lapidary club and she’s self-taught in making wearable art from antique silver pieces.
“The wire I use I is 14-carat gold fill,” she explains. “One wire-wrapped bracelet takes me several hours to make, but I think it will be less once I’m more skilled in the practice.”
Charmaine was also inspired to learn to make jewelry from antique sliver pieces after spotting some bracelets (and falling in love with them) at the Plant City Fancy Flea Market. “I was like ‘Oh my goodness’. I can do this,” she explains.
“I love researching the history of the silver pieces. It’s part of the story that goes with the jewelry I sell. You can look up everything from who designed the pattern to who manufactured it and when.”
Today, people also bring her pieces of silver from family collections. “It’s a nice way to share family collectibles,” Charmaine explains. “Rather than just one person inheriting the silver, I can make pieces of jewelry from the collection so everyone in the family has part of the keepsake.”
The silver bracelets, made from spoons, and rings, made from forks, take far longer to make than the gold wire-wrapped jewelry. Charmaine takes a bit of an assembly-line approach.
“I’ll take 5-6 spoons and cut them at one time, then drill them, and then bend them. It’s easier to do one task with several pieces than simply completely one item at a time.”
It’s the grinding and polishing of the silver that requires the welder’s mask with full protection. “I tried using just protective glasses,” Charmaine says, “but the flying pieces were cutting my face.”
Selling Local and National
- Gold-filled and Sterling Silver wire-wrapped bracelets range from $25 To $50
- Silver plated spoon jewelry runs between $10 – $40.
Silver plated is a less expensive than 14-carat gold filled wire, but both take a lot of time to craft.
“This is a full-time hobby,” Charmaine says, “not a get rich project. I need an outlet to sell them because I love to make them.”
Charmaine is getting ready for the holidays. She’s still making her wire-wrapped gold jewelry and her antique silver pieces, but she’s focusing on a little beaded bling jewelry for the holidays.
To Purchase and Contact Silver Conch Jewelry
3rd Annual Handmade Holiday Gift Market: December 10. Shell Point Cottage, 102 W. Shell Point Rd, Ruskin, Florida 33570.
Gold and Silver wire-wrap bracelets are by custom order; prices will vary depending on material chosen and size of the bracelet. Contact: SilverConchDesigns@Yahoo.com