||Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
Describe your artistic style.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
Pacific Northwest nature--the landmarks, the colors, the plants, flowers, trees, and the animals. Not that I'm biased, or anything, but I think I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world!
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Copper, bronze, silver, vermeil, gemstones.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
What inspired this design?
A photo I took of brilliant gold fall leaves on the campus of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
How did it come together?
I originally planned the piece as a part of a set in a series themed around each month's birthstone or birthstones, but it was always inspired by that photo of golden leaves.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I was trying to finish a book manuscript, and feeling frustrated because I'd done too much research about the abysmal odds of getting a publisher to even look at my book. I wanted something tangible that I had made that I could actually sell. And I'd been playing around in a very amateurish way for years with inexpensive bracelets and necklaces. I'm a Pacific Northwest native, and I've wanted for most of my life to be able to somehow share my love of the natural beauty found here. It all coalesced in my photography and the jewelry.
Who introduced you to beading?
In a roundabout way, a total stranger. I went to a copper mining town in the northern Mexico state of Sonora with my youth group when I was a teenager, and watched a particular copper artisan at work, texturing copper jewelry. It absolutely fascinated me and, I think, planted the seed. I came home from the trip with a simple copper chain bracelet, and I've had it for more than twenty years.
Do you have an artistic background?
I do and I don't. I can do very basic crochet. I can carry a tune if it's in a bucket strapped to me. I'm semi-competent at playing piano. I do reasonable amateur nature photography. I had a blast as a kid making an entire family of miniature dolls out of wooden clothespins and a house for them. I can do a fairly decent silk flower arrangement. I tried very, very hard to get a novel published and found out that I'm really better at technical writing and editing copy than writing a good book. But with the exception of the writing, they've all been sporadic and periodic hobbies, nothing pursued seriously.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
A former college classmate of mine put me on to the site when I was looking for better-quality and better range of beads and supplies than were available locally.
What other hobbies do you have?
Reading nearly anything. Fiction, non-fiction, history, how-to, politics, medical news, the list is endless. I think my Kindle is the coolest invention ever. I love being able to carry a library in my purse. I really do love photography, and I drag my camera around almost everywhere because the photos I take inspire many of the pieces of jewelry I create. I love music, and listen to a lot of classical music while I'm creating pieces, especially Beethoven. Also, I've driven my husband crazy more than once by putting in a whole series of CDs on infinite repeat that play nothing but variations of Johann Pachelbel's "Canon." I don't usually let people watch me work for that reason. I have to get into my creative zone, and what works for me typically drives other people nuts.
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
No. I can't find any near where I live, and I haven't found many people interested in organizing one.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Making jewelry has become a full-time career for me. I'm ambitious. I want to finish a Graduate Gemologist diploma through the Gemological Institute of America, and I'd dearly love to help found an "artists' colony" to support local artists, offer classes, and share techniques.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I am mostly still local to the Tri-Cities, with my work in a bridal boutique and some area salon/spa gift stores. I'm going to be launching a website by the end of this year.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I've donated jewelry to a broad variety of local fund-raising auctions, although the ones nearest and dearest to my heart are our homeless shelter, the domestic violence shelter, NAMI, and the alternative high school.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Practice! Always be working on and mastering a new technique. And if you decide to make creating jewelry a full-time business, don't try to wear all the hats of a small business owner. Outsource the stuff you don't like or are not good at so you can focus on what you do best.