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Once Upon an Accident

Accidents happen. And for Becky and Jeff Thomas, that’s a good thing. The couple met by accident, they found Jonesborough by accident — sort of — and some of their greatest artistic creations are the results of accidents.
“A lot of times, accidents are your best things,” Jeff says. “That’s Becky’s favorite kind of art.”
Accidents also seem to be part of the couple’s life mantra.
Married for 22 years now, the couple met by chance 27 years ago when Becky’s family was traveling through Jeff’s home state of West Virginia and experienced car trouble.
“My mom and sister were driving and stopped to give them a ride home,” Jeff recalls. “They stopped at my parents’ house on the way and there I was.”
Becky was only 15 years old at the time, five years younger than her now husband.
“I was too young,” Becky says of why the couple didn’t immediately start a romantic relationship. “We stayed friends for a while.”
A few years later, Jeff was living in Florida when he received a call from Becky, who wanted to come for a visit. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I’m just so grateful their car broke down when and where it did,” Jeff says.
Both artistic souls, Becky and Jeff moved to Jonesborough four years ago after visiting their friend, who had relocated here, and falling in love with the town.
“We would come up and visit and we’d be like, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to live here?’ We felt like we fit in here,” Jeff says.
At the time, the couple lived in North Carolina and felt tied to their home there, which included caring for an elderly pet. But a short time later, the couple’s dog passed away and, on a whim, the duo packed their things and moved to Jonesborough.
“We just plopped into Jonesborough like we’ve been here our whole lives,” Jeff says. “The people of this town are so different. They are eclectic and very artistic. They get us.”
Nearly every surface in the pair’s spacious apartment has been adorned with or transformed into a piece of original art by either Becky or Jeff. Even some of their furniture is homemade.
“We found boxes at auction and put handles on them,” Jeff says, explaining the living room’s end tables. “We also like to bring the outdoors in at our place.”
An old basement door has new life as a shelf in the couple’s art studio in a back room of the apartment, old window frames now frame pieces of art and a portion of wooden fence from their former home serves as a backdrop for Jeff’s painting of a fox.
The pair’s latest adventure has them working together to create handmade necklaces that combine both of their artistic abilities.
“One morning I woke up and I randomly thought, ‘What if I did miniature paintings and Jeff could make them into necklaces?’ So we decided to give it a try,” Becky says. “I’ve sold more art this way than I did any other way.”
To create a necklace, Becky starts with handmade paper as a miniature canvas. Using a painting style that incorporates “mixed media with acrylic paints,” Becky takes everyday items such as grass and puts them in a blender with glue.
“I mix it up and then put it on the canvas and shape it,” Becky explains. “I let it dry and then I go back and paint over it.”
The method creates a more three-dimensional piece of art that typically features a bird, a flower, a dragonfly or some other small piece of nature.
“I don’t have a lot of room to work with,” Becky says. “So it really lends itself to individual things.”
Once the canvas is complete, Jeff’s work begins. He hammers metal, whether it’s steel, copper or something in between, to create the necklace, right down to original clasps that complement Becky’s latest miniature work of art.
“It’s fun working together on each one of them,” Jeff says. “No two pieces are the same.”
The couple created a name for the jewelry business by combining the one word that best represents each of them individually.
“She loves the peasants because they can forge a life out of nothing. And I love ravens. I like their society, their creativity and their social nature,” Jeff says. “These are the two things that truly make up who we are.”
And so, Peasant and Raven Jewelry was born.
For Jeff and Becky, the endeavor has only enhanced their creativity – and their relationship.
“We love going back in the studio on Friday nights. He’ll be in his space, I’ll be in mine. We turn on the music, have a glass of wine and create,” Becky says. “It feels nice to be spending time together doing what we love.”
To see more original pieces of Peasant and Raven Jewelry, visit Jeff and Becky will also be at the Love Lavender Festival in downtown Jonesborough with their jewelry on Saturday, May 22 and Sunday, May 23.