Jama Watts was born, raised and currently lives in Kentucky. She was introduced to art as most kids, in elementary school. "Getting to go to the art room in elementary school was always something special for me," Jama said. "I loved getting my hands dirty with clay, painting and drawing. But, since my dad was an engineer and I was good at math, I always thought I'd be an architect."
Watts took mostly construction, drafting and other classes in middle and high school, but during the summer of 1992 she began to focus on drama and the arts, and later Jama decided to study art in college. After graduating from college Jama has spent a few years working in jobs that had nothing to do with the arts. In 200 Jama had a life-changing moment: needing a creative outlet, she began stringing beads and making rosaries to pass time. She is a self-taught beader, learning through books, magazines and experience.
Shortly after her daughter, Amber, was born, Jama left her office job and opened a small art gallery and coffee bar in Lebanon. The gallery, These Precious Things, represents 30 central Kentucky artists, allowing Jama to spend "down time" making jewelry at her desk.
The ideas for her pieces come from a variety of sources. She has a slight addiction to beading magazines and books but most of her inspiration comes from a background in painting, sculpture and nature. She loves color and texture, which shows in her jewelry. Jama often begins a piece as a way to examine a new stitch or color palette then lets the piece tell her where it wants to go. Her favorite work is in freeform beading as she feels it allows her to express herself more freely.
Jama has come to think of her pieces as "wearable art" rather than "just jewelry," which she feels allows her greater creativity when designing and working on her pieces. Watts' work is also a reflection of what she's into or going through at the moment she makes the piece. Music, emotions and paintings are starting points for many pieces, as is the desire to test out a new stitch.
"I'm very ADD when it comes to my craft, learning new techniques constantly and playing with the results," she said. "I guess you could call it contemporary tradition! I do everything from pieces that look vintage to incorporating computer and watch parts into my pieces."
Watts has ventured into cold-connected metal work, wire wrapping and silver clay but always returns to the beads, elaborating on traditional designs and creating her own. Her work has been featured in many national and local magazines, media and Internet outlets. She also filmed a segment for HGTV's "That's Clever!" which is tentatively scheduled to air in February 2009. Jama is a winner of several awards for her pieces over the last few years, she is an active member of beading and art associations. She also enjoys teaching jewelry-making classes at the local community education center. Jama's work can be found in her own gallery These Precious Things in Lebanon, KY, as well as in several retail outlets throughout Kentucky.
An article by Jama Watts
Beaded jewelry by Jama Watts
Jama Watts, Lebanon, Kentucky, USA
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