Steamboat Springs Sheila Weekly feels naked without a necklace and earrings, but it’s not out of vanity. Her first love was stones, and now at age 56, she’s rekindled the flame.
She’s found herself deeply enamored of making jewelry, a meditative hobby she’s turned into a personal dream.
“I have the fever,” she said. “I call it the fever. I just really dig it. It’s sort of like knitting. You’ll be working, and it’s soothing to the soul.”
Weekly is the bubbly, salt-and-pepper haired gift shop manager at the Steamboat Art Museum, where she greets guests and sells handmade jewelry she creates by using silk-knotting and wire-wrapping techniques.
Her dream is to one day sell her Milner home and move into a live/work space to run her own jewelry store with help from her young granddaughter, Harmony, who at 4 years old already is showing a penchant for beads and stones.
Even though she’s reaching an age when most retire, Weekly’s dreams are just beginning to bloom.
“Find what you love,” Weekly said. “It’s always possible. Look at how long it took me to find what I love.”
Finding her passion
Weekly first started making jewelry in the 1970s when she returned home from the U.S. Army.
For four years during the Vietnam War, Weekly (then Sheila Salazar) was one of the only women stationed at a base in Germany where she performed training tests on other soldiers.
When she returned to her home in Colorado, she started beading necklaces.
“All I can tell you is this feeds my soul,” she said. “I can have five different necklaces going at one time and be very happy.”
But with an 18-month-old son, Weekly soon gave up beading to focus on the task of being a single mom.
In 1999, Weekly moved to Steamboat to live near her brother.
It wasn’t until about five years ago that a good friend took her to the Silver Lining, a jewelry and bead store, where she instantly was reminded of the joy she feels while meticulously crafting jewelry.
She now works part time at the Silver Lining, part time at the museum and part time for the city of Steamboat Springs.
Then, after work, she puts on her “jam jams,” presses play on an audio book and spreads her beads, wires and tools out on her bed.
“I think if I didn’t work so much, I wouldn’t be as disciplined,” she said. “When I have my own shop, I’ll have found my dream.”
‘Love and magic’
Dottie Jones-Zabel, the museum’s interim director and operations manager, said working with Weekly at the museum has been a joy.
“It was like I knew her right from the start,” she said. “She’s got a lot of energy. She’s always smiling, and she just loves her grandchildren.”
And she believes that energy comes across in Weekly’s jewelry.
“I think her jewelry is beautiful,” Jones-Zabel said. “She puts a lot of thought into the different stones.”
Out of all the semiprecious rocks Weekly works with, moonstone is her favorite. Its properties are meant to enhance inspiration and intuition, which she uses to help sow what she calls “love and magic” into her pieces.
“It’s all the stones,” she said. “They’re fun. They come from Mother Earth. And the colors. Just like flowers, the colors are real.”
She said her focus in jewelry making is using contrasting colors and stones that complement one another. But she said jewelry preferences are very individual to the person.
“I truly believe in the properties of the stones,” she said. “The stones you’re attracted to are going to do you the most good.”
She paused and added with a self-aware smile, “I’ve always been kind of cuckoo that way, but it doesn’t hurt anybody.”
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com