Artist Spotlight

Name:  Lani Kee Williams             
Business Name: Off the Beaded Path

Lani has been a member of the Durham Craft Market since 2013 and served as the Membership Chair for a few years. She has dabbled in the arts and crafts world for over 30 years but began focusing on her craft business seriously since joining the DCM. She enjoys creating mixed media jewelry and uses mainly leather as her base material. Her “off the beaded path” styles appeal to customers who are looking for something different, yet cool. She uses leather working tools along with paints and dyes to create one of a kind pieces.  She has been teaching herself to create pieces out of polymer clay and loves to challenge herself in finding ways to marry leather with the clay.

How did you get started in your particular craft and how long have you been in business?
I have been tapping my creative muse to get me through all my life events for the past 40 years.  When I was in my teens, creativity saved me from a dysfunctional home life and writing poetry gave my life meaning.  When I raised my three sons practically by myself while working a full-time and part-time job and going to school full-time trying to get my college degree, creativity was there to give me refreshing pause and purpose with “back in the day crafts” of paper twists, knitting, decoupage, clay modeling, floral arranging, white glue and white bread dolls and beading jewelry and God knows what else I have done. You name it, I have had my crafty hands in it. When I battled cancer, I went back to my poetry to get me through that time. All this creativity was there with the intention of providing me my space to claim who I was when I wasn’t a mom, student, spouse, recovering from an illness or employee. Now that my sons are grown and gone from the house and all those life events have passed, I have had more space to explore more creative pursuits and actually build a business.  Lately, I have been fascinated with leather and polymer clay for the past 4 years. I intentionally landed on the name of my business, Off the Beaded Path, because I like to be authentic and stay away from the mainstream way of doing things.  I also am from Hawaii, so color and vibrancy has to be a part of what I do so I can stay connected to my roots. My customers have always remarked that my pieces are different and unusual and that warms my heart to hear that!
What types of products do you create? Where do you create them?

I make leather adornments, mainly bracelets and cuffs, but also enjoy creating necklaces and earrings. I have a studio in my home that I am very grateful for as I have spent a lot of time previously at the kitchen table.

Where do you draw your influence from?

My work is influenced by my Hawaiian roots, coming from a diverse state of vibrant colors. You will find a mix of media with my leather pieces, using various metals, ceramics, polymer clay and magnets.  I am also influenced by the myriad of YouTube and Pinterest posts, who’s not? I didn’t attend art or design school, so a lot of what I do is self-taught.

What is your favorite new product or new technique?

I bought a new die cutting machine and have been having fun cutting leather flowers and layering them by riveting on an embossed, painted leather cuff.  I also am having a blast learning new polymer clay techniques (there is so much that you can do with this product!).

What are your hobbies and interests outside of your art?

I am also spending some time developing my writing skills and belong to a writer’s group.  I want to complete at least my autobiography one day soon as well as publish my poetry. I had a stint in music percussion and performing spoken word with my own poetry.

Tell us about a special experience that you have had at the Durham Craft Market. What makes the market special for you?
I moved to Durham in 2010 and didn’t really know many people. I have been a member of the Durham Craft Market for the past 4 years and can say that the market has provided me with a sense of community.  Anyone that I can call my friend in Durham is another artisan at the market.  I have served on a committee for a few years and I have a great appreciation of the hard work that goes on in the background to ensure the sustainability of the market.  There really are a few very hard working members that keep this market thriving.
Overall, I am proud to be a member of the Durham Craft Market and truly believe that you will find quality and love behind every piece of art you buy or experience (like our beloved Stephanie, who does face painting).  The artisans are all very creative, caring and dedicated people and for many, this is the means with which they live.  And for the rest of us, we dream of the day we can do this as a sole means of living too. For now, I am thankful for a good job that allows me the space to continue to create.  See you at the market!
Lani Kee Williams


501 Foster street durham, NC 27701

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