Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2010 featuring Swarovski crystal
||Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
I live on the beautiful island of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean. Surrounded by 365 beaches, one for each day of the year.
Describe your artistic style.
As a jewelry designer, my prior experience as a fashion model enables me to appreciate the value of selective accessories. In the beginning I concentrated on original creations based on a style of pure elegance, classical in look, eclectic in design, always accessorizing the positive.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
There are many things that inspire me as a designer--artist. Since I moved to Antigua I have been captivated by the changing color of the earth, sky, water and the large variety of music. These constant changes have strongly influenced my creativity. I remember as a child my mother Celestine St. Jean always saying that I was gifted with my hands, but I never really understood what she meant. Only in recent years have I realized the impact these early years have had as I move from one technique to another in expanding my designs.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I do enjoy working with a large variety of materials, bead weaving, precious metal clay, soldering, sterling silver, copper, brass, wire bending and I do enjoy all but I must say the effect of combining beads, enamel, dichroic glass and wire with PMC has enabled my creativity to take on a more ethnic tone. Each day I see something during my day-to-day activities and knowing that I can transform it into a new PMC creation brings me great satisfaction.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
What inspired this design?
Life, as it spirals in different directions.
How did it come together?
I planned this design because I wanted to create something soft, black and elegant. Yet as I created this piece, my vision expanded and the front became something totally different from whence it started.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I began making jewelry in New York in 2004, after my first class in bead stringing. Looking back I remember how this all got started, I mentioned to one of my co-workers, Susan Pollicano my love for Jewelry. She in turn suggested we take some classes at the 51st Street YMCA in New York. I can never forget how exited I was on my first basic bead stringing creation.
Who introduced you to beading?
I can't recall the teacher's name who taught that first class, however one of my newest clients I had at the time, Betty Lestello, noticed how much I really liked jewelry-making and my creativity in my color scheme combination bead weaving, and she encouraged me in advancing to other techniques.
Do you have an artistic background?
I'm from a family who's very much into music, I have a son, Shaeil Mayers, that plays the drum set, percussion, and steel pan, most of my uncles play the guitar, my mother Celestine St. Jean is a seamstress/dressmaker and my grandmother, Elisha St. Jean, was a folk dancer who passed in 2000, God bless her soul.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
Betty offered me some stones and a Fire Mountain Gems catalog she had in her collection. My eyes popped, my jaw dropped--I could not contain myself on my way home from tears of joy. Looking back I must have looked like a mad woman with so many items--books, finding and stones--lagging behind me. And that's how I discovered Fire Mountain Gems.
What other hobbies do you have?
The other hobbies I enjoy are sewing, crocheting, designing, being a fashion stylist, reading, and meeting people.
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
Living here in Antigua there is no beading society or bead group that I know of, but from time to time I do show a few friends or people who are interested a few things in beading.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry-making plays a big part in my life at present. I am a Boutique part-owner with my sister Marleen Askie at the Sugar Ridge Resort in Antigua where a large part of my jewelry is being sold. I am also a kiosk owner at the Antigua International airport (ANU) in the departure lounge which sells all of my jewelry designs. To date, there are five other locations on the Island that carry my jewelry.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
For the local market I do my own PR by making appointments, and organizing fashion shows and attending events. At present I am rebuilding my website. This is the first contest I've entered and am looking forward to entering many more. From time to time I send out mailings on my new collection.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I have given out pieces to individuals for shows but have never for a cause, which I do have to look into. Here in Antigua there are no educational programs for beading, or even to raise awareness.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
As an aspiring jewelry-artist, follow your mind's eye in your creation if you can see it. Feel it, then create it. And if you are going to wear it, wear it with the utmost confidence. It works on the business aspect--you have to work your business. You can start by selling to your friends and family and it will spread by word of mouth then be prepared to spread your wings like an eagle.
View all of Miranda's designs in the Gallery of Designs.