Leslie Arakaki

The Painted Lady

Leslie Arakaki

Unintentional Ruffles
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2010 featuring Crystal

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Honolulu, Hawaii

Describe your artistic style.
I've slowly dampened my "bling" attitude, but I love the flash and glamour of crystals. I used to work primarily in crystals (the ultimate "BLING"), but now have branched out to include gemstones, which have a personality of their own. I'd consider my style to be "I don't care that this is too much bling--I am GORGEOUS!"

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
Usually, it is the sparkle of a bead or a color combination that catches my eye. If I'm at a loss, I consult my daughter--who remarkably has a very good sense of color combinations (I'm not much of an artsy person, so this is a total surprise where she got this trait from). This is the first contest where I've broken my habit of making other jewelry I see better. This contest has inspired me to look within myself--what do I see as gorgeous? What design will show off the fabulousness of the beads?

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Crystals--first and foremost. I also like manipulating wire, and have dabbled in silver fusing and Art Clay silver (I would love to work more with them, but haven't had much time).

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
The Painted Lady

What inspired this design?
I gave a co-worker the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads catalog to peruse. She immediately fell in LOVE (and trust me, it was LOVE...in all caps) with the pendant. She told me, "make me a necklace with it."

How did it come together?
Just by pure chance, I happened to order some mother-of-pearl discs that were on sale. They matched the pendant so well, I had to use them. Because there wasn't enough bling on it, I had to include 3mm bicone crystals to finish the design. Everything did fall into place and my co-worker loved the design.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I remember ordering my first bead book when I was in high school--almost 20 years ago (yikes!). I used seed beads to make a daisy chain (ultimate cute!). Sometime during college, my sister dragged me to a bead store because she wanted to make something. I figured I could also make something similar, and from then on I was hooked.

Who introduced you to beading?
If I wanted to be technical, the "who" would be my sister. But I did do simple beading when I was in high school--just because I thought the design was cute.

Do you have an artistic background?
Not in any way, shape or form (at least in my opinion). My background includes technology and teaching. The last art class I took was in middle school.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
I've searched online for places I can buy crystals, and Fire Mountain Gems and Beads usually comes up.

What other hobbies do you have?
I guess paper crafts would come in a close second after beading. I don't have much time after work and beading to do much else.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
Nope. I am a sole beader. Lonely as that may seem, it actually works best for me. I pick and choose what feels comfortable for me--wherever inspiration may lie.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry-making is a hobby that fulfills my "I need to slow down/Things are just way too stressful" feelings from work. Since sharing my pieces at work, I've been commissioned to do pieces (necklaces, bracelets, earrings) for co-workers. It's a nice side activity to have, but now I have seriously considered investing more time/money into making it a successful business. First steps would be do get a web site up and running (I'm thinking blog/Etsy store/Artfire store)...then maybe I'll consider doing local craft fairs. Or the other way around...

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I guess my jewelry-making has brought in some income. Nothing where I could quit my day-job, but something where I can afford to get extra luxuries every once in a while. Normally, I am approached by others to have a piece made.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
Not necessarily. I have donated a couple of necklaces to an auction...one of which was most viciously fought over by two ladies...the loser of the auction asked me to make her the same necklace--she REALLY loved the necklace.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
There isn't a right or wrong way to make jewelry. Make whatever feels right to you.