I'm Paula Nettlehship, the designer and creator of designs2c, wearable art jewelry, founded in 2006. I was born and raised in Ventura California, but have called Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania home since 1992.
Although my degree from UC Santa Barbara is in history, I supplemented that curriculum with many art history and theater costume design courses. I’ve always loved jewelry, especially pearl jewelry. These passions and interests converged with my interest in all things British and royal and are reflected in my designs.
From the beginning, my art has been driven by color and texture. I design primarily with glass seed beads, Czech glass beads, and Swarovski crystals. However it’s my stitch choice that dictates the design of my pieces. My favorite stitch is right angle weave in all its forms. It allows me the versatility to structure a framework of loops or bars on which I can then play with shape and color or embellish with other beads. The stitch has flat, cubic and prismatic variants. I like to tell people that working in right angle is like building with Legos, and its options are limitless.
My art is inspired by more than simply beads and stitches. Edwardian and Indian jewelry are lifelong interests. Their shapes and colors influence the designs and overtones of my pieces. An early 20th century English tiara inspired the shape of my “Loop” necklace. The materials and stitch gave a classic form, a clean modern look. The rich jewel tones and use of pearls in my jewelry are reminiscent of the subcontinent. The “Manisha” line embodies this feeling.
In 2019, I visited Prague and Jablonec in the Czech Republic. Ninety minutes northeast of Prague, near the Polish border, Jablonec has been home to the Czech glass industry for centuries. I was able to tour and meet the current generation of glass makers in their small factories. I developed an entirely new appreciation of their work and artistry creating the colorful beads. You can read about my experiences on my blog. Some of the unique finds from the trip inspired recent designs. My new Renaissance line is composed of a mix of individually woven, Czech glass squares. I emboss the squares with separately stitched plaques of Czech and Swarovski beads.
While I make statement pieces worthy of art shows, I design for everyday wear. I am happiest when they are one and the same. Designer Marc Jacobs said, "The customer is the final filter. What survives the whole process is what people wear. I’m not interested in making clothes that end up in some dusty museum." In this spirit my jewelry is beautiful, functional, and ultimately wearable.
I am married to a British professor of Materials Science & Engineering. Ian has always encouraged and supported me, even when I wasn’t particularly confident that I could make a go in this business. Together, we have two grown children. When I am not beading, I am in the pool and am a proud member of US Masters Swimming.