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Rose Wingenbach

Meet the Designer-Artist


Where do you live?
Grants Pass, Oregon

Describe your artistic style.
Eclectic. Both in my job and in my personal designing I go from the ridiculous to the sublime.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
Stories. I love to tell stories with jewelry and the story I see may not be the same story you see. For instance, I designed a necklace with acrylic bamboo beads. Well, I added green glass dagger beads for the leaves and then hid a lampwork panda in amongst the foliage. It is design idea number A621. What story does it tell you? Sometimes I am inspired by images on television or magazines, but I usually start with a bead, finding, or component, and ask it what its story is and then go with the flow.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I can't decide. They are all so fun. Lately I have been very taken with aluminum jumprings for inexpensive lightweight chainmaille. I love gemstones, precious metal, Kato clay, Kumihimo, you name it. I guess if I were stranded in a jewelry-making cubicle and could only take one type of bead, (and the necessary findings), I suppose I would have to choose Swarovski crystal, or maybe seed beads. There is so much you can invent with seed beads.

Have you ever entered any of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contests? If yes, which ones?
Yes, we had a Fire Mountain Gems employee beading contest and after winning several times, they decided I needed to switch departments and become a full-time jewelry designer.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Palau Passion

What inspired this design?
Octopus eggs. REALLY! I love sea life and it reminds me of the strands of eggs hanging from the ceiling of an octopus den with the mother standing guard over them while bathing them with pulses of sea water.

How did it come together?
It started by being asked to design something with fire opals. I love the color and shading. I decided I wanted to use the ombre shading that was inherent in the strands. Then I thought of lots of movement and dangles which lead me to octopus eggs. The hardest part was making all the loops. At the time I was barely competent at them. By the end of this piece I was an expert loop maker.

Share Your Background


When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
Well back in the 60's when I was a teenager I strung some seed beads on fishing line, and I did some macramé, but I didn't really start designing until I came to work for Fire Mountain Gems as a Customer Service Representative in 2001. I swore I would not start beading. I did not have the time or the space to start a new hobby. I'm very glad I broke that oath in short order. There are too many pretty things available, and it was so easy! Much faster than cross-stitch or latch hooking rugs.

Who introduced you to beading?
Everyone! The customers I spoke to, the people I worked with. My very first project was inspired by Lee Anne who now works in our Multimedia department. It was just a simple pair of sterling silver hoop earrings that she hung crystals on. I made a pair and was permanently hooked. No pun intended.

Do you have an artistic background?
Yes and no. I have no skill in graphic arts. I can't draw and even my handwriting is atrocious. My previous job was a high school science teacher. I never thought I could create such beautiful original things, although I have always been crafty and could create with a pattern. On the other hand, I am creative as an actress, director, and singer in our community. I have degrees in both science and theater.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
I had been working as a substitute teacher for 2 years and was depressed about my inability to find a permanent position and other drastic changes in my personal life. I decided it was time to recreate myself beginning with a new job in a different field. I was driving through town and saw a big, boring, beige building with the sign, Fire Mountain Gems, on the side. I thought, "It's a big building, I don't know what they do there, but they must have an opportunity for a smart, motivated, friendly, energetic person like me." The rest is history.

What other hobbies do you have?
Game playing, travel, SCUBA, any kind of craft, and most of all acting and singing.

Beading Success


What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Currently it is my full-time job. Someday I hope it will be my supplemental retirement income. I was so blessed to stumble upon Fire Mountain Gems. My ego got a huge boost when I found out how good I am at not only helping customers when I worked for them in Customer Service but also how good I am at making jewelry. When I was grading papers, dissecting frogs, and reviewing textbooks I had no idea there was a little jewelry-making fairy living inside me wanting to get out. I love encouraging others to try it. I think most of us have the ability, we just have to let loose of our pre-conceived notion of ourselves and let that little artistic person inside you out into the light.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
Currently, other than my work at Fire Mountain Gems, I have a few pieces in a beauty salon. Someday I would like to sell my product on the web and enter some contests.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
Many of my pieces are donated to charities by Fire Mountain Gems. I personally have donated pieces to local silent auctions for community projects. I really want to make squares for the Bead-it-Forward Breast Cancer Quilt Project, but I am a procrastinator and keep missing the deadline. Maybe next year.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Don't limit yourself. Don't think that because you are a truck driver or a grocery store clerk that you are not able to make beautiful jewelry. Tell your story.

View all of Rose's designs in the Gallery of Designs.

Products sold by Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® are intended for experienced jewelry-makers and designer-artists;
children 14 years of age or younger should use these products with adult direction.

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Inc. - One Fire Mountain Way, Grants Pass, OR USA 97526-2373
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