“It’s my creative outlet, it’s my therapy and it just makes me really, really happy,” she said.
A BPI Group project manager by day, she credits her paternal grandmother for inspiring her interest in crafting.
“She was always learning something new and every time I would go and spend time with her, she would teach me a new craft,” she said. “When I found the beadwork, that was it.”
The projects may be time-consuming — with some exceeding 80 hours — but she enjoys the detail-oriented challenge.
Her preferred studio is her “happy place,” a cabin nestled deep in the mountains of Ellijay. Often accompanied by her poodles, she said the sounds of nature greatly inspire her.
After starting a project, she prefers working nonstop. Sometimes, she spends entire weekends honing her craft.
“I may have a shape in mind, but I usually do not know exactly how it’s going to look,” she said. “The beads tell you where they want to be in a piece.”
In 2000, Sledge started her own business, Bead All You Can Bead. Her artwork is also featured at the Topaz Gallery in Buckhead.
Professional women eyeing unique pieces for social events are her biggest customers. “The earrings sell really well and the custom pieces actually do pretty well, too,” she said. “Each year, I’ve gotten more and more revenue.”
Every year, Sledge attends several arts festivals to promote her brand. Her next stops will be at the Sandy Springs Festival in September and Houston’s Bayou City Art Festival in October.
Earlier this year, Sledge was invited to an online competition that pitted her against the world’s top bead artists.
As one of 256 worldwide contestants in the 2014 Battle of the Beadsmith, Sledge spent two months working on her entry — a purse inspired by the popular “Fifty Shades of Grey” series.
With braided leather, spikes, chains and even some dangling handcuff charms, the project was one of her favorites. “It’s kind of a very subtle reflection of the book,” she said.
Her entry made it to the tournament’s second round. The highlight, she said, was brushing elbows with the planet’s beading elites.
“It was really terrific to have comments and feedback from other artists who I call my ‘beading goddesses,’” she said, “the ones who I really admire and inspire me.”
She said she dreams of one day seeing a Bead All You Bead original on the red carpet.
“I would love for a celebrity to see and fall in love with one of my pieces,” she said, “and carry it to an event.”
Sledge’s art can be viewed online at www.beadallyoucanbead.com.