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San Clemente Journal

Local Artist Cara Veale Coniglio - Time and the Bell

May 31, 2024 10:09AM ● By by Britta Wilder

Artist Cara Veale Coniglio sells her creations at the San Clemente Store at the Outlets in San Clemente.

by Britta Wilder

Time is a running theme for local artist Cara Veale Coniglio. As wife/mother/teacher/volunteer and successful hand-lettering artist, there never seems to be enough of it-and always the right amount.

“I find the busier I am the more inspired I get!” Cara said. “I find purpose and joy in creating.”

San Clemente-based (on and off) since 1975, Cara always enjoyed making gifts for friends and family, painting works on paper, canvas and fabric, spinning her endless ideas into beautiful creations. A surprise present from her husband, Bryan, expanded her work immeasurably.
“When Bryan gifted me a huge, scary saw, my love of painting on wood began!”

So did her business. After honing and perfecting the technique of decorative woodwork-signs in particular-Cara founded Time and the Bell in 2014. “Each piece I design and create is made with one goal in mind,” Cara said. “When it graces your wall or mantle it will serve as a gentle reminder to you of who you are and reflect to others what your family is all about.”

Cara chose the name of her company with equal intention. “Time and the Bell is a line from T. S. Eliot’s poem, “Four Quartets,” the artist and avid reader explained. “It is about the struggle to stay present, to remember that we can’t control our past or predict our future, but instead we should embrace the here and now.”

With her tools, brushes and signature enthusiasm, Cara literally found her groove, kicking up production to meet increasing demands for her pieces: seasonal and personalized signs, weddings, special events and of course her popular Christmas ornaments. On the heels of 2020 she came out with ‘Our First Pandemic 2020,’ selling out overnight. “I love to incorporate what’s topical and currently happening,” Cara smiled. “It’s fun and people seem to really enjoy  In 2023 Bryan treated his busy wife to a solo sojourn to Paris where she researched and revisited some her favorite places from when she’d lived there years ago. “I lived in France for a long time and would love spending hours on the weekends combing through the Marches aux Puces (flea markets), looking for the hidden treasure that would make the perfect gift or unique addition to my home décor,” Cara said.

Returning with inspiration, the excited artist received a phone call from her doctor that would change everything.  “I was literally at baggage claim at LAX when my doctor called,” Cara remembered. Results from a random blood test indicated abnormal results. “I had no symptoms but lots of tests later revealed I had leukemia.”

Initially Cara didn’t feel sick but the subsequent medicine used to treat the disease made her quite ill. After a series of intense treatments over the course of months she is currently in remission-and grateful for her family and friends who continue to support her through her medical journey. “It’s become my superpower,” Cara said, “I’m constantly aware of my health. I have some bad days physically, but I am always mindful to choose joy.”

  With Bryan’s constant love and strength, along with her beloved sons Charlie and Johnny, Cara continues to make the most of any challenge that comes her way, focusing on the positive aspects of life and creating beauty in abundance for the world to enjoy.

Earlier this year Cara made the decision to take her business out of her home and to the public: Time and the Bell is now located at the San Clemente Store at the Outlets in SC where new and loyal customers can experience firsthand her inspired aesthetic and amazing array of created and curated goods.

“I feel like this new space gives me the opportunity to not only showcase more of my hand-lettering art, but to curate and collect pieces that have the same energy and feel,” Cara enthused. “I want everything I offer to truly inspire and delight, and also become the perfect gift!”

A larger footprint also allows Cara to further experiment (she’s recently discovered cement mixing and has produced a line of lovely hand-painted hearts) as well as expanding on pieces dear to her soul.

“One of my kid’s teachers had lost a late-term baby in pregnancy and I wanted to do something for her,” Cara said. “The teacher wanted a box for the urn so I made one and painted it with the baby’s name on it.”

That experience of sharing her gifts with others at such a time of loss stayed with Cara and she later told Bryan, “I feel like this is what I’m called to do.” Cara has since provided these special boxes for mothers and families and considers it both honor and calling to do so.

“The sales that I make go directly to providing personalized urns for parents experiencing miscarriages and infant loss,” Cara said. “The information is on my website and people find me. The need finds me.” Finding Time and the Bell-the shop-is like finding that wonderful embrace in a familiar friend you’re always happy to see-along with her amazing products. According to Cara the joy is mutual.

“San Clemente is not only my hometown but it is home,” Cara beamed, delighted to be doing what she loves and sharing it with those she loves, too. “My favorite items that I offer are cutting boards with San Clemente painted on them, French market baskets that I have imported from Europe and wine bags with ‘Wine tastes better in San Clemente’-customers love!” Cara said.
What’s not to love? T.S. Eliot was right-there is no time like the present, and in Cara’s case that perfect present is at Time and the Bell.

by Britta Wilder