By JENNIFER MESCHINELLI
---- — KEESEVILLE — At the age of 13, Tys Sweeney has taken a creative hobby and turned it into a profitable enterprise.
The Wilmington teen offered a diverse array of jewelry for sale through his business, Rubriataki Fused Glass Jewelry, at a recent holiday market in Keeseville.
He decided to start selling his creations three years ago when he had made too many pieces and needed something to do with them.
Jewelry, Sweeney said, “has a huge market.”
He built a website for himself, and then a friend offered a spot at a local craft fair, and the business took off. He now attends about five craft fairs a year.
In addition to creating the jewelry, he also invented the word Rubriataki, featured in his business name. He defines it as: “The beauty of the world expressed or reflected in miniature, often iconic form.”
The expanded version is: “The art of expressing or reflecting the world’s beauty and grandeur (either as a whole or a specific part) in miniature.”
His designs are inspired by nature and the modern world, Sweeney said.
He makes the jewelry by melting glass and fusing it together, coming up with new designs regularly, mainly through experimentation. For example, his Arctic series came about by adding hot glass to water, which creates a crackle effect.
For his business, he crafts a lot of the easier pieces, but he also makes some changes to his standbys for variety. Most of his pieces fall under a named series, and the individual offerings are also named. The name of each piece is unique and is one of the defining characteristics of the jewelry, Sweeney said.
Those names, he said, are either inspired by the piece itself or he already has a name in mind so he crafts the piece to fit it, according to his website.
Sweeney’s mother, Lauren McGovern, first introduced the craft to him when she was experimenting with glass creations she had learned to make through a friend. Eventually, Sweeney became so curious that his mom set him up his own studio to begin working with glass himself, and she encouraged him to experiment.
“This seemed like something manageable and could be made quickly,” McGovern said. “It also allows for a lot of creativity.”
Sweeney now purchases all of his glass and supplies himself through the money he has made selling the jewelry. Additionally, he has made his own display cases and created a budget for his supplies, all skills that McGovern is happy to have him develop. She believes selling his jewelry has given him people skills and has harnessed his ability to work hard.
Despite the business he has made for himself, Sweeney still has other plans for his future. While he would like to have a store for his jewelry business, he would also like to be an engineer someday.
“He recognizes, too, that this is great for this part of his life,” McGovern said. “But he still wants to be an engineer.”
Sweeney will be selling his jewelry next at the St. Augustine’s Church Craft Fair in Peru, set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Check out Sweeney’s website at: http://www.rubriataki.com.