Editor's Note: This is part of a series featuring moms and dads in our Made by Mom and Dad Gift Guide.
For years, oil painting was Heather Levine's art form of choice. But that ended about seven years ago when Levine's first child came along.
The media is time intensive and requires supplies like oil and turpentine that aren't exactly child friendly.
"I became a mom and I put the oil paints away," said Levine, a Clayton mom of two.
But she picked up something else.
The life-long artist, who studied art at Kent State University in Ohio and is a long-time art educator, started focusing on her hobby - beading and jewelry making.
She spent time at Ornamentea, the downtown Raleigh bead and craft shop, where she could bring her little one along with her while she honed her craft. She eventually opened up an Etsy shop - now called HHP Designs - to sell her creations.
Not satisfied with focusing on one kind of jewelry, Levine took some metal working classes at Ornamenta and Pullen Arts Center and found a new love.
Now, instead of creating pictures on canvas, she's drawing and etching into the metal that will become bobbles on bracelets or necklaces or earrings. She experiments with color, using colored pencils, patina and paints. She does it all from her home studio, a bonus room that triples as her kids' playroom and her husband's man cave.
Her aesthetic is rustic and organic - a necklace with love birds etched into it or earrings with a vine design, for example. Also popular are her necklaces in the shape of North Carolina and painted in red, blue and other colors from local colleges.
"I'm open to customers," she said. "Sometimes I get my best ideas from customers."
Levine hopes to continue to grow and expand her skills and craft. She'd like to take more classes to add skills such as stone setting to her resume. Eventually, once her younger child heads to kindergarten, she hopes that, while continuing to teach, her jewelry-making becomes even more of a business.
"It's great," said Levine, who also teaches art part-time at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Raleigh. "I find it to be a creative outlet, to have my own identity. Being a mom, you don't have a lot of time. If I have a half hour, I can make something."