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Theresa Kowalski

Theresa Kowalski

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Contest 2010 featuring Metal Clay, Metal Beads, Wirework and Chain

Finalist

Theresa Kowalski

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Contest 2010 featuring Metal Clay, Metal Beads, Wirework and Chain

Finalist

Theresa Kowalski

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Contest 2010 featuring Metal Clay, Metal Beads, Wirework and Chain

Finalist

Meet the Designer-Artist


Where do you live?
West Allis, Wisconsin

Describe your artistic style.
My artistic style depends on what art medium I am working with. I currently enjoy forging copper focal pieces for my one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
My inspiration comes from many sources which include nature, cultural identity and the challenge of designing a focal piece and developing a unique and timeless piece of jewelry.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Currently I enjoy working with copper, sterling silver, semi-precious gemstones, cultured freshwater pearls and coral.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Red Bud, Fallen Leaf and Torn Hearts n' Pearls.

What inspired this design?
Red Bud and Fallen Leaf were designed during the late summer and early fall of 2009, it was purely nature itself and the curiosity of--could I forge these pieces I had in my mind. Torn Hearts 'n' Pearls was a repurposed design that I wasn't pleased with.

How did it come together?
Most of my work and ideas are inspired by what I see in the course of a day, developing an idea with curiosity and the challenge of bringing the idea to life.

Share Your Background


When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I began beading almost twenty years ago. I have Native American ancestry and wanted to dance at Powwows. To be able to do so, I needed an outfit, and so my journey began. I have worked with seed beads doing appliqué, loom, heddle loom, the Lakota lazy stitch and peyote stitches. The mediums used to construct dance outfits include leather, cloth, bone, glass seed beads, wire and threading material. After working with those materials for many years, I started making jewelry and other Native-inspired art work, always having a desire to create unique and contemporary pieces. I always gave away the pieces I created and with much encouragement from friends and extended family, I began investigating the sales end of jewelry making. I was blessed by two of my neighbors who helped me get my feet wet with marketing my work.

Who introduced you to beading?
I cannot think of any one person that introduced me to beading. I believe it was an evolution, being immersed in a culture so rich with creativity. So I guess my humble beginnings rose with my desire to learn new things and with that desire, my teachers came.

Do you have an artistic background?
I have no formal training in the arts, but constantly strive to learn new techniques and mediums to work with which include metalsmithing, beading, fiber arts and some form of painting. I have attended workshops and classes offered by technical colleges, night school art classes or weekend beading classes. I love the challenge of learning something new and repurposing newly learned techniques to my jewelry creations.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
One of my Native American ''sisters'' highly recommended Fire Mountain Gems and Beads. I ordered a catalog and I was off and running.

What other hobbies do you have?
Teaching family and extended family beading. I am very passionate about floral arranging, landscape design/landscaping and gardening. I believe these hobbies help keep me centered and grounded.

Beading Success


What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry-making has become an integral part of my life, especially within the last two years. It has been a life saver both physically and emotionally. At the present time, jewelry-making is a hobby for me. I do aspire to develop this hobby into a full-time career.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I have started utilizing my creativity as a way to supplement my income. I am currently participating in craft fairs geared toward charity fundraisers. I also have pieces of my work on consignment in gift shops in the Milwaukee area and in upstate New York.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I currently seek craft fairs geared toward charity fundraisers and more specifically high school and middle school charity programs. I am looking forward to participating in a local ''Á la Carté'' venue in early summer which will benefit West Allis Charities.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
I think it is important to believe in yourself and the ability to be creative. We all have gifts and it is up to us to develop those gifts. Embrace the challenges of learning the different mediums of jewelry-making and most importantly, never say ''I can't.'' There are so many resources available to gain the knowledge needed to be an aspiring artist. Quality of workmanship is also crucial. When I am putting a piece together, it is usually something I would like to have. I know I am rough on jewelry, so it has to be built to last.

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