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Betty Hamilton

Red Chandelier

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Washington Township, New Jersey

Describe your artistic style.
I have an extremely eclectic style of jewelry-making since my focal point is always a piece of sea glass. Sometimes I do a simple, beach bum look with just a chain and a bail, but I most like wrapping and creating more gothic and Victorian-inspired pieces.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
I love to set myself apart from others working in the same materials as I do. Most sea glass jewelers are rather simplistic with their designing. I like to mix glass with everything from crystals and charms to pearls and beading.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
My favorite materials are sterling silver and Swarovski crystals.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Red Chandelier is the name of this piece. I have chosen this piece because it has so many findings from Fire Mountain, along with the second-to-rarest sea glass color. Orange is rarest, red is next in rarity. Plus, this piece is extremely different from most sea glass designs.

What inspired this design?
I love the color red and wanted to make something for the holidays that was a bit more dressy. I also liked the fact that it had a bit of a Victorian look to it.

How did it come together?
I had the lovely bead cap and decided to "MacGyver" it into something other than a bead cap! I thought it would make a great chandelier top and then just started dangling bits of cut-up rolo chain, sea glass and crystals until it was as full as I wanted it!

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I began jewelry-making as a hobby when I realized that my sea glass collecting had overwhelmed our house. I had so many mason jars filled with sea glass, I decided I should do something creative with it. Hence, my jewelry business. I will also add that, apart from an occasional craft project while I was in school many years ago, I had never made jewelry before. I have no formal training in jewelry-making.

Do you have an artistic background?
I took fine arts classes all through school and love to use water colors, colored pencils and took a turn doing country tole painting for about two years.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
I did an internet search and found Fire Mountain had everything that I was looking for in a supplier.

What other hobbies do you have?
When I'm not making jewelry, I'm hunting for sea glass at the beach, reading or enjoying a movie with my family.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry-making turned from a hobby into a full-time business extremely quickly. I was working in retail and happened to wear a necklace I had made into work one day and was quickly deluged with private orders. While on vacation in Connecticut for a weekend, a local shop owner stopped me and commented on a necklace I was wearing and asked if I would wholesale to her. Now, I have my own representative that sells in Southern New Jersey while I handle stores up North. I opened an Etsy shop in February 2009, but did not have a chance to start selling there until May 2009. In March of 2010, I have over 800 sales in my Etsy shop and at least eight steady wholesale customers. I used to do house parties, but since the only person that works for my business right now is me, I've had to eliminate parties from my schedule. I work at this business at least 10-12 hours every day and love it! Tired, but love it!!

If you use jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are your selling yourself and your jewelry?
I have my Etsy shop and I had my own website, but now direct all traffic from my website to my Etsy shop as it is easier for me to maintain. www.mermaidstearsjewelry.etsy.com

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I have been asked to donate pieces of my work for school functions for our local school systems.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Don't be discouraged. It is an extremely hard business with lots of competition, but if you stick to it, you can succeed. Have faith in yourself and your product and you can make your business work!

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