Annie Benz

Annie Benz

Reflected Star
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Contest 2010
featuring Metal Clay, Metal Beads,
Wirework and Chain

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Tigard, Oregon

Describe your artistic style.
Flowing, sinuous, and ethereal.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
I'm most inspired by fairy tales, mythology and folklore. I always try to imagine what the heroine or hero in a great fable or epic might be wearing jewelry-wise.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I enjoy working with silver the most. It has such a bright luster and sheen that it creates a sort of radiance. I also like copper for its a rosy, warm hue. When I work with stones, I prefer pastel or clear stones, like pink, lavender, or clear cubic zirconia or natural stones like rose quartz and moonstone. From time to time, I like to incorporate stones I have collected myself and polished in my rock tumbler.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Reflected Star

What inspired this design?
I have a deep interest in astronomy and the celestial heavens. I wanted a piece that I could wear that would capture all the traits of a star, or its ''essence.'' The piece had to be frosty and crisp, like the stars you can see on a clear January night, and it had to feature a special stone with lots of depth to truly allow it to ''twinkle'' like a star.

How did it come together?
It required both planning and a little spontaneity. At first I had a vision of what I wanted it to look like, so I sketched the design out several times. Then I made some 3D models in modeling clay to give me another perspective. However, during the process a slightly different design took shape from what I had expected, so I embraced this variation on my plans and I'm pleased with the results.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I have always been arranging and fiddling with components like rocks or shells, but I really started creating seriously in middle school.

Who introduced you to beading?
I would have to say my mother. She took me to my first bead store and purchased for me my first set of supplies and I haven't looked back since.

Do you have an artistic background?
Well, in high school I was in the IB (international baccalaureate) advanced art program, where I worked with ceramics mostly and also made a mural of sorts on one of the walls of our school building. I also briefly attended an art school for a time.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
I believe I happened upon your website while trying to find a place to buy some stones for my projects. I was excited to learn Fire Mountain is located in Oregon, (like me!) and your website was super friendly and easy for me to navigate.

What other hobbies do you have?
I enjoy reading (especially concerning philosophy or history), cooking and baking, and spending time stargazing and mapping out constellations.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
At this time I do not, though I am planning to start a ''jewelry making club'' at the college I will be attending in the fall. I hope to meet others like me who love to make jewelry on campus.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Expressing myself through the jewelry making process is absolutely crucial in my life! Nothing else empowers me, encourages me and lifts my spirits from sad spells like creating a beautiful piece of jewelry does. If I couldn't make jewelry anymore, I don't think I'd be me.

If you use jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I have marketed my designs in several local craft fairs, and I also display pictures of my pieces on my social networking site, which offers great feedback from my peers and allows me to assemble a sort of portfolio.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I have yet to explore this avenue, but I daresay it would be an exciting prospect to do so!

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Make what you love no matter what! Don't create something just for someone's approval, though it may feel good to know they like it at the time, you may get stuck into turning your passion you loved into someone else's dream. When you create pieces you truly love, your pieces will look 100 times better to you, people will respect the honesty you give off and flock to your designs. When this happens, it's a win-win.

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