For one local artisan, Monday's solar eclipse is just another natural phenomenon that has inspired her creations.
Jewelry maker Nicole Roundtree-Mileur is part of a family whose roots have been planted in Williamson County for well over a century.
Her parents are both artists. Roundtree-Mileur's mother, Mary Jane (Grant) Estrada, lives on the family farm in rural Williamson County, part of a family that has entrenched itself into the area as peach orchard owners, teachers and artisans.
Her father is Hollywood and stage actor Richard Roundtree ("Shaft"/"Being Mary Jane"), who attended Southern Illinois University on a football scholarship before being signed with Johnson Publications to model in their Ebony Fashion Fair. That launched his interest in acting.
Roundtree-Mileur has found her niche as a jewelry designer. She and her cousin, Cathy Helleny, go on road trips for jewelry-making supplies.
"One day we said let's just bring all the stuff we need right here and teach everyone to create beautiful things," she said.
The pair opened CottingTree Beads in Herrin next door to Helleny Furniture. They sell beads, tools and jewelry making supplies. They also teach classes, to share the joy is making wearable art.
Last week's class focused on eclipse earrings.
"I am inspired by local artists as well as the natural beauty of southern Illinois," said Roundtree-Mileur, who apprenticed with local artisans Alan Stuck and Jonny Baca. The well-appointed shop has jewelry displays and supplies, and in the middle is a large table and stools for classes.
Barbara Marlow of Herrin, was one of a half dozen artists creating a pair of eclipse earrings last Saturday. "I've had several classes," she said, "and I visit with them nearly everyday."
Michelle Graville of Marion, an instructor at the shop, was making her own eclipse art. "Every earring or necklace is a new learning experience," she said.