Joan Ayles

Leaf Pin

Joan Ayles

Peruvian Opal and Amethyst Bracelet
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' 2010
Jewelry-Making Contest
Metal Clay, Metal Beads, Wirework and Chain Category
Silver Medal Prize Winner
Category: Bracelet

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada

Describe your artistic style.
My style is very organic both in the inspiration and execution of my work.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
The natural world is my source of inspiration for my designs. I am an avid gardener and I am fascinated by the forms, shapes, lines and colors of nature. Art Nouveau jewelry with its curving forms and references to the natural world is an inspiration to me.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I love to work with color which I utilize in my work with gemstones, pearls, and crystals. I also enjoy manipulating sterling silver and 12Kt gold fill wire.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Leaf Pin

What inspired this design?
This design is inspired by the shape of a leaf and the curves of vines. The colors are taken from the natural world.

How did it come together?
This pin, like most of my work, does not start with any formal design sketch. With most of my pieces I make a ''bead soup'' of the colors I feel like working with. Then I take a length of sterling silver or 12Kt gold fill wire and start shaping the wire until I am satisfied that I have a well designed and executed form to start applying the gemstones, pearls, crystals, etc. to. The first beads to be wired on are the one or ones I have chosen to be the focal point of the piece. In the case of this brooch, I started with the faceted golden quartz. I work from the larger shapes to the smallest in a very organic way. For a final touch, I make spiral shapes and add them to the piece.

Share Your Background:

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I have been making jewelry since I was in art school when I was in my early twenties.

Who introduced you to beading?
My first beading projects were self-taught when I was working a fire lookout in a remote area of northern Alberta.

Do you have an artistic background?
I am a graduate of the Alberta College of Design in Calgary, Alberta with a four year Diploma in the Arts (metals major) and later obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the same school.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
I first discovered Fire Mountain Gems and Beads by doing a search on the internet.

What other hobbies do you have?
I love to garden.

Beading Success!

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry making and painting have been my profession for all of my adult life. Being an artist informs every aspect of my life.

If you use jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
Salt Spring Island has a wonderful Saturday market which runs for seven months of the year. This Island is well known for the number of gifted artisans who live here. I am about to start my third season as a market vendor. After years of working with galleries, I enjoy meeting the people who purchase my jewelry. I have a website under construction ( and also sell at an annual Christmas Market.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
My advice is to take a design course and a color theory course. It is just as important to have mastered the basics of design and color as it is to know technically how to manipulate the materials you are working with. Other than learning those skills, I would just advise people to work, work, work, and experiment. Be willing to step beyond your comfort zone.

View all of Joan's designs in the Gallery of Designs.