Deborah Applegate

Deborah Applegate

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads 2009 Beading Contest


Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Antioch, Tennessee

Describe your artistic style.
My style? A bit playful, a bit classic. I think I'm still finding my way, but I definitely don't like anything that's too overdone. I'm drawn to the playfulness of some of Christi Friesen's pieces, which are a lot harder to do than they look, and love the handcrafted, classic style of wire-wrapped beaded jewelry. I love working with color and texture.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
The colors and forms of nature. Birds, flowers and trees, the colors and patterns found in stones.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I'm still experimenting and finding my way. I love the possibilities of polymer clay and am obsessed with the colors and patterns found in gemstone beads such as ocean jasper and rutilated quartz, and learning more about wire wrapping and metal work. I want to find ways to incorporate all of them together. I only started making jewelry about 3 years ago and have been experimenting with polymer clay for about 2 years, so I still have a lot to learn.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
European Bee-Eater

What inspired this design?
I saw a picture of Carmine Bee-eaters in a copy of the National Geographic and loved the coloring of the birds and looked up bee-eater images on google and found images of many different species of bee-eaters. The more I looked, the more I knew I wanted to do something in polymer clay involving them.

How did it come together? For example, did you plan it out or did it define itself once you began working?
I started out looking at pictures of birds and then started working with the clay trying to figure out the best way to put one together. I made 3 somewhat larger Carmine bee-eaters before making the European bee-eater, each one had turned out a bit different and I'm still thinking of ways to try to improve my technique.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I started feeling the need for an artistic hobby of some sort about 3 years ago. I started looking at different craft books and thought beading would be fun. I bought a couple of books and some inexpensive beads, tried my hand at it and then discovered wirework. There are several different bead shops in the area where I live and so I took a few classes. Then, about 2 years ago, I saw an article about Christi Friesen and was astounded by her work. I bought some books on polymer clay and started experimenting with it. The trouble is finding enough time to do everything I'd like to do.

Who introduced you to beading?
No one. I wanted to do something different and decided to try beading, so I got a couple of books on beading from the craft store and some inexpensive beads and tools and gave it a try. I found it very satisfying and began reading more and more about making jewelry, but it was the book, "Bead on a Wire" that really got me going.

Do you have an artistic background?
I don't have any formal artistic training; I just know what I like. I'm an avid reader and have learned a lot through books and magazines. If there is a technique I want to learn, chances are it's in a book or magazine, and if it's written down, it can be learned. I'm a bit of a do-it-yourselfer. I have also taken a couple beginning metal/jewelry workshops at the Appalachian Center for craft and hope to take more when I have the time and money to do so.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
I found out about Fire Mountain Gems from one of my magazines, I read BeadStyle, Art Jewelry and Jewelry Artist, checked out the website and found a generous selection of good-quality beads and other items on the site at some really good prices.

What other hobbies do you have?
I enjoy editing pictures on Photoshop Elements. I've scanned my mother's photo albums, edited the pictures in them and saved them to a disk for my brothers and sisters. I like to read and garden and I've painted every room in my house. My husband and I have 5 small dogs and I enjoy taking care of them, as well.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
At the moment jewelry-making is a hobby that is growing into an obsession. In 3 years I've gone from having a desk in a corner of a room to having an entire room to myself, which I've organized and reorganized several times over trying to figure out what works best for me. I love reading books and magazines about jewelry-making (my library of books and magazines keeps growing,) acquiring new tools and admiring the work done by others. Working with beads, wire, and polymer clay engages my mind and imagination. There is nothing more satisfying than coming up with an idea and then putting it all together to make something beautiful. The whole process of coming up with an idea, selecting the materials and putting it all together the learning and doing is fulfilling in and of itself. I still have a lot to learn and I'm having a lot of fun in the process. Most of what I've done so far is for family and myself, but eventually I hope to sell some of my work. I'm just not ready yet.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Don't be afraid to try. Even if there are no teaching resources nearby or you can't afford to take classes at this time, you can start small by investing in a couple of bead books or magazines (I suggest Bead on a Wire for an introduction to wire wrapping or BeadStyle Magazine,) and a few items from a local craft shop or online store to get started. You just may surprise yourself.