“I spend my days up to my eyeballs in beads, earring parts, resin and charms. I have paint on my hands and glue on my shirts all the time. And I couldn’t be happier.”
Peggy Marie Snow spends hours in her home studio reworking jewellery, giving life to old and worn out accessories and creating a second chance for beads and baubles, which would otherwise be put out in the trash.
Selling her makes through Pirate Peg’s Pretties has given Peggy a second chance on life, on family and to find a creative passion.
“Making fills me with such contentment and joy – it’s hard to explain,” she said. “I always tell people when I’m making a piece, I get a little “click” inside. It tells me “Yes – that’s IT!” If I don’t feel that little click, I rework it until I do.”
Taking up secretarial work on graduation from high school, having been given an opportunity from a part time job in her senior year, Peggy built a career which saw her working in roles in the legal and construction inspection fields. But, as she started to achieve promotions to supervisory roles, she found her health starting to suffer, both physically and mentally as she was subjected to workplace bullying and other pressures. Meanwhile her parents also suffered health issues, which forced them into assisted living, and meant they needed daily support from their daughter – which clashed with the expectations of her employers.
Peggy said: “I was being pushed to give more and more to my job and eventually I was told I needed to decide what was more important. My job or my family. This was a “no brainer” situation. I gave 2 weeks notice. Best decision I ever made, because it led me to my passion.”
After leaving work, Peggy took time to recover to a healthy place. She said: “I was no longer “me” since I had no job. I thought all I could do was type. Eventually, I started looking for something I could do at home, so I could be available to help my parents when needed. I’ve collected jewellery since I was in high school and decided to try and make my own.”
That decision became a renaissance for Peggy. She converted one of the bedrooms in her San Francisco Bay home into a studio, which became a creative refuge and a place to build a new life.
“When I go into my studio, I love it,” said Peggy. “I have shelves for my supplies, a huge table to work on, a little heater stove for when it’s cold. My two cats, Starbuck (Quality Control Manager) and Baelfire (Vice-President of Dropped Beads) keep me company, and all is right with the world.
“I love being my own boss and having my own workspace. Is my work table a mess? Usually. But that’s ok because I control it.”
The real gift came in being able to be close to her parents and bought time to be close to them.
Peggy explained: “I lost my dad five years ago and I miss him every day. When I’d go visit my parents, he always asked me what I was working on and always wanted to hear all about my latest pieces. I am so happy that I quit my corporate job when I did because it gave me two years of visits with my parents that I would have missed out on otherwise.”
Although her mother now suffers from dementia, with Peggy as her sole next of kin on call 24/7, her craft remains a refuge away from the stress of their circumstances.
She now designs and handmakes earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, purse charms and resin-topped mirror compacts and business card cases. The process has been a steep learning curve of building skills to match her creative ambition.
“I look back at some of my first earrings and think “Good God, those are horrible!”,” she said. “But I love them because it’s a way of reminding myself how far I’ve come. I hope I never stop improving and learning. I’m self-taught and I just kept trying and improving and I still feel every day is a new chance to improve my skills.”
“At first, I was like most other people. I felt my stuff wasn’t that great, that I had no right to call myself an artist, that no one wanted my pieces. I did two shows and sold two pieces. I felt discouraged. But I regrouped. And studied, and read, and watched videos. I reworked my displays. Got stuff up off the table and more visible and eye-catching. I’ve done a local show a couple of times and been very successful. Now I’m ready to find some new venues.”
Peggy describes her style as “out there”, creating big and bold pieces with lots of colour, although she prides herself on the eclectic range of items she creates.
”I’ve spent too many years trying to fit in,” she said. “Now, I have too damn much fun just cartwheeling through life. I do gothic/goth, Victorian/Edwardian, boho, fantasy, pirate, Asian, kitschy – whatever comes into my brain.”
She added: “I finally feel like I’m who and what I was meant to be. When I’m working away in my studio, my mind is at piece. My advice is to never be afraid to take that leap, make that choice, try something new. It took me a long time to feel comfortable in what I do. I was always the girl with the weird jewelry, weird shoes, crazy t-shirts. I finally realized that I’m not the only weirdo out there.”