Nancy Butler has been making jewelry since childhood, with the help of two stray cats she turned her hobby into a business.
Nancy had been making her jewelry for years and giving pieces to family and friends. Nancy’s husband suggested a yard sale for all the pieces taking up space, that’s when Nancy decided to start selling her work. That’s where the two stray cats come in.
The cats, named Samson and Delihla, were rescue cats from the streets of Wilmington. “They just showed up on the back porch of one of the offices that we work for and we adopted them,” Nancy said. And with that ‘Alley Cat Jewelry Studios” was born.
“I’m a bead-aholic.” Nancy said. “I’ve been making jewelry basically all my life, probably started out when I was a child.” Nancy began by playing with a box of her grandmother’s jewelry. The jewelry would usually end up broken and Nancy began to learn how to re-string it. “it just kind of took off from there,” Nancy said.
The jewelry always starts with the stones. “The stone tells me where it wants to go, not in a crazy kind of way,” Nancy said. To get the stones Nancy travels to Tuscan in February and Denver in September. “I go with three empty suitcases so 150 pounds of rocks basically comes home with me.”
Nancy never knows what the final product will be, she begins by stringing the beads together and sees where the stones take her. “I’ll start with one strand of beads, and then it calls, it needs to be two strands or three strands and I’ll just build up from there.”
Sometimes the stones sit on Nancy’s desk for a year or so before she finally decides what to do with them. “All of a sudden one day it comes to me, sometimes it comes in a dream too.”
It’s the stones that dictate the final form, “one strand is not enough, one bead is not enough, it has to be big.”
The biggest thrill for the cats, Samson and Delihla, is perhaps in play, they can often be seen running down the hall with a string of beads in their paws, Nancy close behind in pursuit. I tried to get a quote from the cats for our story, but Samson was sleeping during our visit. Delihla hid from us.
The biggest thrill for Nancy is “that somebody will actually spend their hard earned money on something I made and are going to their forever home.”
“That they’re loved and appreciated and that the person wearing them gets as much enjoyment wearing them as I had making it.”