CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Beth Carenbauer finds inspiration for jewelry in beads and stones - along with more non-traditional items such as dominoes, bicycle tires and the shelves of the local hardware store.
She loves the entire process, which includes scouring flea markets and antique stores for items that inspire her to create unique jewelry.
"I could explode with ideas," said Carenbauer.
Though she's always been artistic and has fond memories of painting stones with an aunt when she was a girl, Carenbauer said her creativity mostly took back burner to other pursuits.
In high school in Weirton, she was in the college prep tract. Then work and family kept her busy.
Carenbauer moved to Charleston when she took a job with West Virginia public television; she now works for Work Force WV, a division of the state Department of Commerce. Between working full time and raising three daughters with her husband, George, there wasn't much time to sit and think of artistic things to do, she said.
The Carenbauers have three daughters, 23 and 21-year-old twins.
"After they grew up and went off to school, I slept for a year," Carenbauer joked.
And then she found a strange thing happened - her creativity took off.
"I was driving down the road one day and it was like an epiphany," she said. She was bursting with ideas.
She began collecting items she thought she could use for jewelry - "It was the objects that dictated what I wanted to do," she said - and taught herself the finer points of using pliers and crafting clasps.
Vintage wooden domino sets have been a rich source of ideas. Carenbauer said the backs of old dominoes have stamped designs on them - eagles, historic buildings such as the Woolworth Building in New York - that allow her to use both the fronts and backs.
She is attracted to dominoes because her beloved late father-in-law, Ed, played dominoes every day.
Her husband helped drill small holes in the dominoes so she could attach tiny screws to string them on necklaces.
"His price was reasonable," Carenbauer said.
When she is inspired by an object, Carenbauer experiments with prototypes before reproducing final designs, which run the gamut of urban hip to classic.
Sometimes, Carenbauer collects things she knows she'll use eventually, even if she's not sure how just yet.