Describe your artistic style. My style is eclectic. I like to design funky, fun pieces and yet also enjoy knotting pearls as it's such a meditative process.
What inspires you as a designer-artist? I draw my inspiration from nature and also my stash. I'm an all out on the table type of designer.
What materials do you most enjoy working with? I would say that my current favourites are semi-precious stones and copper. Because jade and copper look amazing together as does turquoise and copper. I love to work with sterling and gold-fill wire but it is a little too dear to work with regularly.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story? My Old Blue Jeans
What inspired this design? The necklace was designed for a contest that had a theme of blue jeans.
How did it come together? My concept was to design a piece around an old pair of Levi Red Tab jeans. After getting my friends to dig in their closets for a pair of said jeans I proceeded to cover two different wood beads with denim from the jeans and put the red tabs on the larger beads. I made tube beads by gluing and rolling denim onto bugle beads. Once I had the beads made I went to my stash and added some apatite, blue glass and silver chain dismantled an old pair of earrings and from there it made itself.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading? I started beading with a brick stitch earring kit and haven't looked back. My next project was a necklace/earring set to go with an outfit for a concert I was soloing in.
Who introduced you to beading? I introduced myself. I'm self-taught because when I started in the 1980s there wasn't anywhere in the city I lived in that gave lessons.
Do you have an artistic background? In a way :-). I'm a classically trained singer (think opera), play the guitar and pretend to play the piano. I can sketch out designs if I have to and had a crafty upbringing.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®? Through magazines. I'm always in awe of the back covers.
What other hobbies do you have? I knit, cross stitch, various types of needlework (currently enamoured with Hardanger and other cutwork) and right now I'm building a dollhouse from a kit with my foster-daughter.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life? I'm on a disability pension and jewelry-making is my passion and also a way to make some extra money. If I'm having a bad day all I need to do is go into my studio and make something to make me feel better. It also keeps my hands in such good shape that my doctor is constantly amazed at how well I can use them even with moderate to severe arthritis and tendonitis in them.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry? One of my major selling tools is simply wearing what I make. I have a website, attend craft sales and farmers markets in the area especially the special markets set up for cruise ships from Alaska. I have entered contests and am currently setting up an Etsy store and going through the process of being approved for a local artists co-operative. Oh, and I also give lessons. I'm busier retired than I was working a day job. And happier.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers? I regularly donate jewelry for charity fundraisers, usually silent auctions. I also teach underprivileged youth at a local church organization how to make jewelry and this summer we'll be branching out into other disciplines. I donate ALL the supplies for this and my time.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists? Follow your passion. I spent almost 25 years working at a job I hated and ended up burning out. Play with your ideas and buy the best tools you can afford. Better to spend 50-70 dollars on good pliers that 10 pairs for $10 that last less than a year if you're using them a lot. It's cheaper in the long run.