||Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
Describe your artistic style.
I feel my style is quite classic, but I love being challenged to create things outside the box. I love exploring with the use of jewelry as clothing or additions to clothing that change the outfit all together. I also love using jewelry in all areas of day to day and special ceremonies, for example, instead of having flowers, I had a bouquet of Swarovski Crystals and Amethyst.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
People. I love having people give me ideas with how they interpret the world. I love helping people find ways to bring their own designs to life. I love seeing sparkles in people's eyes when they have something made for them that's unique and special.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I am loving chain at the moment. It is a fashion trend to add it to clothes, etc. I love creating fringing and tassels and layers of fine chain in unexpected places that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
What inspired this design?
I love clay flowers and crystals and this just feels like spring. This piece has turned out to be my logo. I love it, and it makes me feel up-lifted every time I see it.
How did it come together? For example, did you plan it out or did it define itself once you began working?
I saw a twisted wirework at a craft fair and I had made these chandelier earrings with clay earrings. So, I added them to see how they would work and this happened.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I was dragged into planning a jewelry making party for my mother's best friend, believing I would HATE it. But, when I finished the bracelet, necklace and earring set, I couldn't believe that this was the same sort of thing you buy in the shops and "I" had made it! I was hooked. That was about nine years ago and I love learning new things all the time. More than that, I love teaching and seeing that look in new students' eyes.
Who introduced you to beading?
My mother's best friend was learning to be a party plan jewelry teacher. She became my mentor and helped me explore this huge new world.
Do you have an artistic background?
No artistic bones in my body before jewelry making. I liked to dabble in this and that but didn't really have any talent. But, I think I have finally found an artistic home and outlet.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
In Australia we are quite limited, and I kept finding the same things over and over again and knew there must be more available. Then, searching the internet, the "Mecca" appeared, and now I know I will never be limited because I live on an island.
What other hobbies do you have?
I am learning to be a singer. I am starting with the foundation and I am singing as a soprano in the Sydney Philharmonic Choir. In late October I will participate in my third production at the famous Sydney Opera House which (amazingly) is the only place I have performed opera at so far. Not bad for a beginner.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry-making and teaching is fast becoming my full-time career. It started out as a hobby to keep me sane while I learned to live with a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia. I got sick nine years ago just after getting married, and started beading tea-light holders just to feel like I wasn't the lump that had taken up residence on the couch (when I wasn't in the hospital or at another specialist). Finally about two years ago I started to gain control again and I started singing and getting stronger. Then my hobby started getting attention and I found I wanted to do more and liked the idea of teaching. Now I have four casual staff who help me keep up with the class demand and parties that get booked. I hope to open a studio soon. I started Belmonte Design in November last year. I (happily) can't keep up and am constantly expanding. I have to get stronger physically, and this is the inspiration to keep going.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I started with a simple flyer advertising my services, then while I was at my local wholesale warehouse I heard another customer ask if they knew where she could get lessons. I discretely handed her one of my brochures and walked away--unaware that the owner had seen me do this. She asked to talk to me, I thought I was being banned from the warehouse, but instead she asked if I would teach at the store. We now teach there twice a week and from that my website has helped spread the world. I advertise on child focused websites and have started using social media. We have started teaching in the local pre-school and primary school, and the rest is word of mouth.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I make an offering to any charity that asks. I give a piece of jewelry and a five person children's party. This is the best advertising I could ask for and it costs next to nothing. The jewelry at cost is a small price for great advertising and the parties usually bring in work as very few have less than 10 guests at a party. Eventually I want to do something to help raise money for chronic pain awareness. One step at a time though... soon.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Follow your own inspiration and don't ever believe that you can't do it. Nothing is too crazy and if you believe, it will happen. Just keep going and think outside the box.