Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2010 featuring Swarovski crystal
Silver Medal Prize Winner
||Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
Describe your artistic style.
My style ranges from sweet and feminine to eclectic. It's all over the spectrum depending on my mood, what inspires me at the moment, and the fluctuating price of precious metals.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
I get inspired by color combinations I see other people wear. I also engage in conversations with shoppers at my fair booth or in the store I work at. Sometimes they are inspired by shape and color combinations that spark a design in my mind.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I work primarily with precious and semi-precious gemstones, Swarovski crystals, pearls, and a variety of gold, silver, copper and other metal wires and beads. However, I often experiment with a wide variety of threads, beads and cabochons in order to create one-of-a-kind wearable art pieces and stretch my imagination.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
What inspired this design?
My sister's sister-in-law bought some bracelets from me, some of which had Swarovski crystals. Seeing those and other bracelets I have in my collection, she thought it would be nice to have a bracelet with all crystal briolettes of varying sizes.
How did it come together?
Initially I was worried about the crystals banging together so I strung 11x5.5mm briolettes with black and clear round beads spaced evenly between each group of 3 briolettes. That arrangement didn't have the pop and bling I knew she would want. After much thought, I decided to really go all out for a show piece for special occasions and which would only need a minimum of polishing over the years. So I sketched a design using 4 different sizes of clear AB briolettes using only rhodium plated sterling chain and argentium silver jumprings.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
When I was working in my previous occupation as a database administrator in 2005, a co-worker invited me to go to a bead show near our office. I hadn't done bead work since I was in high school, but I thought it would be a fun field trip and stress break. I couldn't just browse the many booths of beads and components, I felt compelled to buy and figure out what to do with the beads later. Using bead magazines and online helps, I became passionate about jewelry making. Now the more I learn, the more I want to learn.
Do you have an artistic background?
I wish I did, but since I finished raising my twins, I just had not been able to find a way of expressing myself artistically until recently. Now I've learned stringing and wiring techniques beyond the basics as well as how to make glass beads, cast metal from wax, and braze metals. So now I finally do have the artistic background I've long wanted.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
I saw their ad on the back of Beadwork magazine.
What other hobbies do you have?
I enjoy sewing, gardening, and it was fun having my daughter teach me crochet techniques. But jewelry design, creation, and selling remains my passion and now an occupation as well.
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
No beading societies but I do belong to a local community art association which acknowledges jewelry creation as a form of art and often holds arts and crafts fairs.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
I love it so much that I retired early from info. Technology work and now work in the jewelry dept. of a dept. store. From jewelry making, I've branched out and do jewelry repair and create bead components in wedding reception decorations.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I've had an Etsy webshop for 3 years. I have my own website, but haven't been happy with it so I advertise only my Etsy shop. I sold some of my jewelry at a boutique for two years, but sadly it's closing now due to the bad economy. That works out ok for me because my pieces sell better at arts and crafts fairs and trunk shows.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I sometimes donate a percentage of my net sales to help support my Native Daughters of the Golden West women's society in California.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Like many other beaders, I started off buying components and beads that looked nice then figuring out what to do with them. In time, I learned to plan projects and make shopping lists so I didn't over-buy at bead and gem shows. I also learned to shop around for the best price and buy in large quantities for the ingredients I used most. The most helpful thing has been to create an Excel spreadsheet in which I keep track of everything I buy and itemize every piece of jewelry I make. It's so helpful to track my income and expenses in one workbook and makes sales tax reporting a breeze.