Cory Cuthbertson: I’m Curious and I Cherish Life

CCuthbertson pic Cory Cuthbertson is a self-employed crafter, selling bookshelf necklaces and tea themed handmade jewellery to fund her PhD. She is a Canadian expat living in the UK with her English husband. She has a BA in linguistics, an MSc in palaeoanthropology and palaeolithic archaeology.

Since I love both books and tea, I was immediately intrigued when I stumbled across Cory’s Facebook page. She agreed to talk a little more about her art.

Tell me more about the medium you work in and how you create your art.

I love the tactile part of working with clay.  I used to work in an office, and a creative element in my life was missing. So I went and got £20 worth of polymer clay, sat down with some Youtube tutorials, and started learning how to work it.

I love miniatures — so once I learned the basics I used my skills to find my own niche.  I love tea and books, and it naturally went that way! I started making bookshelf necklaces which turned out to be surprisingly popular — but not that surprising I guess, because who wouldn’t want a tiny library hanging around your neck?

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?CCuthbertson 0146

When I was young I was always painting or sketching or molding plasticine characters, and creating was a big part of my identity.  I don’t think there was a turning point because art was always there with me. If anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my automatic response was ‘artist’, although I had no idea what that entailed.

CCuthbertson526586630_qsubHow would you describe your spirituality?

I am an atheist, and don’t believe in a god or higher creator. I believe that when we die, that’s it. That makes me cherish life — we create our own meaning in life, and I find meaning in being happy and making others around me happy. I’m also a scientist, and working towards my PhD in archaeology. I think this reflects my personality a lot, I’m very curious and I love learning about humans as a species.

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

While I wouldn’t describe myself as spiritual, I do appreciate the human body and mind.  I understand human cognition as being extended and distributed — our mind is as much of our body as our hands are, or our paintbrush is, and the things we work with and communicate with, such as art, are expressions of our cognition. That makes art very personal. It also means my creations have a little bit of me in it, and they are bought by other people and it becomes a part of them — I really enjoy that connection.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?CCuthbertson 425530364_8he2

There is nothing supernatural going on that I am aware of when I am working, but I find I become very at peace when I am focusing all of my concentration on my tiny pieces, and relaxing or turning off other parts of my brain.  Art is very meditative for me, and I perceive time passing differently when I am in ‘the zone’. I really enjoy this feeling it gives me, and I think it allows me to center myself and work through any anxiety or pressures of life.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

The art I create is always joyful.  I try to illicit happiness in the things I make. One way I do this is by making things small and delicate — that makes people smile, because they are cute and look complicated to make. I also create things that give me happiness in life.  I mentioned tea and books — I love these things but they are also things that others love too, and that motivates me to use these themes.  I also love archaeology, but that’s a bit more niche, so I don’t make as many archaeological themed objects.

CCuthbertson 331731289If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

Be unique as a celebration of yourself. Find your uniqueness by experimenting, and experiment by creating things that make you happy. And don’t be frustrated. People are way too hard on themselves and their creations, but they should be proud of anything they made because it comes from themselves, and that in itself is unique. You get better over time, and if you enjoy it, keep it up!  If you don’t, do something else that makes you happy.

How can our readers find our more about you and your work?

I have an Etsy shop where I sell my bookshelf necklaces and book and tea themed jewellery: I also keep a blog where I talk about my jewellery, but also about being self-employed and other thoughts and musings: I have a Facebook page: and Twitter: @Coryographies as well!

Thanks Cory!
 With the Art as Worship radio show on hiatus, we’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interviews each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Like us on Facebook at Art as Worship, then share your art and comments. Contact Vanessa Lowry at vlowry (@) if you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship. Namaste!

Melanie Rilling: Living with Intentionality

Melanie Rilling picJewelry artist Melanie Rilling was born and reared in Mississippi, where the very land seems to be steeped in the eccentricities and literature of the Faulkner and Welty tradition. Love of the written word was ingrained from an early age.

In her early thirties, when she came to Atlanta, she discovered a passion and gift for public speaking and began being the spokesperson for several organizations. The freedom found in these new surroundings led to more artistic creativity. Camera 360

“When I discovered working with natural stones in my jewelry-making, I found a connection with nature I had never imagined. The very act of holding these stones in my hands enabled me to see the possibilities of enhancing their natural beauty with other stones, crystals and metals. I found myself ‘listening’ to their beauty and power. It became a form of worship, taking something so perfect and working with its beauty to create something more.  Actually, I feel that if one lives with intentionality, everything takes on an element of worship.” ~Melanie Rilling

Listen to Melanie’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Camera 360While she will always be a storyteller and writer, finding the more tactile art of jewelry-making has enriched her life and her appreciation of the beauty this world holds.

Like Melanie’s Facebook page, MelRox, to find out more about her jewelry made from natural stones.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Virginia DuPre: Keeping Open to the Unknown

Virginia DuPre is an artist, art therapist and a former ordained minister.

She graduated from Candler School of Theology in 1994. While serving as an ordained minister, Virginia was a client of art therapy as a way of tending to her own needs and issues so that she could better help others. In 2000, she completed a Master Degree in Art Therapy from Vermont College at Norwich University and began helping people to heal, grow and expand spiritually through the use of art making.

“Making art has kept me open to the unknown — being willing to continue to grow and expand. Art holds mystery and that’s a big part of the spiritual experience. As long as I’m alive, I want to keep expanding into that. There’s something about the blank page and listening to the materials, not knowing what will come out of that process, that’s a way of practicing being open to the great mystery moving inside.” ~Virginia DuPre

Listen to Virginia’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Virginia works with adult individuals, couples and groups for art therapy and spiritual formation.  She says, “What I love about art therapy is that an image comes out of the person and is the source for healing and growth. The art, in a very concrete way, points people back to their own knowing.”

She makes personal art with found objects and recycled objects. Currently Virginia is making snake bone pendant necklaces — made from bones of snakes that were killed in farm management practices on a farm in South Georgia.

Virginia encourages others to connect to their creativity. She says, “Set aside time to play and listen to what wants to come up.”

Find out more about Virginia and her art therapy practice at

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Laura Strickler: Choosing at the Buffet of Spirituality

About 10 years ago, Laura Strickler bought a few beads and a little bit of bead wire, hoping to replicate a key chain she admired at a craft fair. She quickly learned that you only need to know how to do a couple of things — crimping and wire wrapping, to be exact — to make just about anything you want with beads. The very short learning curve, the dazzling assortment of beads out there in the world and the utilitarian nature of the final product kept her going.

Finding an intersection where beading and spirituality meet has been the most gratifying part of Laura’s hobby.

“I think of spirituality as a buffet. When you’re at the buffet, you get to pick and choose. You might like something about one spiritual tradition, and something else about another one. I believe that we all have the creative prerogative to connect with our Higher Power in a way that personally works for us.” ~Laura Strickler

Listen to Laura’s Art as Worship interview on Empower.

She says, “The most exciting thing for me about this art of beading was discovering the spiritual aspect that I could bring to it. The word ‘bead’ comes from the Old English noun ‘bede,’ which means a prayer. Just a bead itself is a prayer. It’s just the perfect tangible anchor for any spiritual practice.”

There is a prayer bead configuration for almost every religion and spiritual tradition. Laura’s signature prayer beads include traditional Catholic rosaries and chaplets, Hindu and Buddhist Malas, Christian prayer beads, and a variety of non-denominational prayer and meditation beads.

Laura goes on to say, “Prayer beads are a wonderful way to pause. To be reminded to stop, take a breath and to get centered.”

Laura lives in Atlanta and indulges her creative passions as an antidote to her “real” job in corporate communications at The Coca-Cola Company. Laura has owned her own business, Design & Copy, Inc., for 16 years, providing writing, editing and marketing communications services to a broad range of clients. You can contact her by email at lstrickler (@)

Since this interview originally aired, Laura left her job at Coca-Cola and started Pink Elephant Merchantile offering a line of elegant, versatile necklaces.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Sarah Hunt Engsberg: Discovering a New Passion

Sarah Hunt Engsberg is a jewelry artist, painter and a professional farrier. Sarah has been serving the needs of horses and equestrians in the sports of Three-day Eventing, Combined Training, Dressage, and Endurance for nearly two decades. When her horseshoeing business was curtailed due to back issues, it was a natural progression for her to transfer from blacksmithing to metalsmithing.

“I first started thinking of myself as an artist with my work of shoeing horses. It took a back injury — literally getting thrown on the ground — to take a step back and become open-minded instead of being so focused on just the one thing. So this catastrophic event helped me discover a passion for creating jewelry. I knew I would get well physically enough to horseshoe again, but I knew that it would ultimately have to look different than it did before.” ~Sarah Hunt Engsberg

Listen to Sarah’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Sarah’s Art Jewelry is created for independent-minded wearers who wish to express their personalities through jewelry. Her jewelry incorporates traditional metalsmithing, with precious gems and semi-precious stones as well as natural and man-made found objects. Her pieces are one-of-a-kind originals.

She says, “My art comes from within, but it comes from somewhere else too. The art becomes spiritual as it allows me to create and express myself, but also to express whatever it’s coming from.”

Painting is yet another avenue for Sarah to express her joy and creativity.  Bright colors, strong contrasts and a bit of a whimsical attitude are the driving forces behind her desire to paint.  She incorporates textures and colors to express the movement and energy she feels and sees in the world around her.

About the colorful nature of her art Sarah says, “I love beautiful flowers, brightly colored clothes and, of course, big gaudy jewelry. Bright colors are just who I am and I express my spiritually through that sort of brightness. Color is joyous and bright colors seem happy and inviting. I see my life as an expression of joy.”

Find out more about Sarah at

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Matt Janke: I Became Grateful

Matt Janke is a glassblower. He loves the medium, the craft and building the equipment. Matt has been on one mission for nearly 20 years… to expose and promote the art of glassblowing throughout the Southeast.

 “For many years I didn’t fully appreciate my skill level. I didn’t think of my talent as a gift from God — I approached it like work and thought of it as a curse at times. I finally realized I needed to change my attitude and I became grateful for my talent and skill. I realized it came a lot easier for me than for a lot of other people.” ~Matt Janke

Listen to Matt’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Upon arriving in Atlanta in 1986, Matt discovered there were no glassblowers and therefore no studios to work out of in the metro Atlanta area. He decided he was going to blow glass in Atlanta even if he had to build a shop himself. In 1990, Matt moved his family back to his native Ohio and his alma mater Kent State University to attend graduate school on a teaching assistantship where he received his Masters in Glassblowing.

Returning to Atlanta in 1992, Matt built a glass blowing studio in his basement. In July of 1996, Matt and his wife Kim opened Janke Studios – Atlanta’s first glassblowing studio.

Matt says, “Glassblowing is sort of like controlled chaos. I like to create chaos every once in a while. Everyone always tries to control everything.”

Matt and Kim run an open studio with the mission to expose and promote the art of glass making throughout the Southeast and to provide a means for other artists to practice their craft. Janke Studios is Atlanta’s premier glassblowing studio and virtually all of Atlanta’s glass artists have all been active in Janke Studios over the years.

One piece of advice he gives other artists is, “Be persistent if you have a dream or a vision. Don’t let obstacles get in the way — just go around them.”

Find out more about Matt, his work and classes offered through Janke Studios. Check out the video where Janke Studios was featured on CNN as a Small Business Success story.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Jill Felts: I Draw Out My Prayers

Jill Felts is Founder, C.E.O., and lead designer of Atlanta-based Compelling Creations, Inc.

As a faith-based, party plan direct selling company, the name Compelling Creations has become synonymous to marketplace ministry as the inspirational jewelry is passed from one woman to another by independent sales Consultants.

“Some people write out their prayers and I kind of draw them out.” ~Jill Felts

Listen to Jill’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

She says, “I let ideas bake. I come up with a new jewelry line by paying attention to what keeps reappearing in my life throughout the year. I just doodle and doodle the same design over and over and over again.”

Jill finds that listening and being still are important to her creative process. She says, “I feel like God already knows everything about us and what our heart’s desire is and so a lot of it is being still and letting go and just letting the flow happen.”

Since 1996, Jill has channeled her entrepreneurial drive into a passion to share her beliefs through messages and symbols inscribed on jewelry. Selling the jewelry through a team of independent sales Consultants has touched lives nationwide.

Prior to forming Compelling Creations, Inc., Jill was a project manager and account executive with several target marketing companies in Washington, DC, New York, and Chicago. Jill holds a B.A. in Rhetoric and Communications and a B.A. in French from the University of Virginia.

Jill and her husband have been married for 24 years have two daughters age 20 and 17 who have grown up in the business.

See Compelling Creations jewelry line and contact Jill at

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your stories, your art, and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!