Lorna Dwyer-Carfano

Lorna Dwyer-Carfano

2008 Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Beading Contest

Gold Medal Winner, Freeform Expressions - Doll Category

In Memory of...
Join us in celebrating the life of Lorna Dwyer-Carfano, an award-winning designer-artist who has made the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads community smile since 2003.

Meet the Designer-Artist

My inspiration comes from almost anywhere, but mostly from three-dimensional objects. Every piece that I ''upholster'' (sculptural peyote with Delica® or Dyna-Mites™ 11/0 and 15/0 seed beads) is bound to be whimsical and labor intensive. The silly images seem to pop out of my inner-child's mind.

It's hard to pick my favorite project--they are all like my children. The Three Little Pigs, originally named The Other White Meat, was the first sculpture group I created. Next came, Believe in Once Upon A Time, a single unicorn that quickly became a herd of seven, then, The Beaded Barnyard, Chocolate Moose, Crouching Pig and Co and Homage to Faberge, a series of smocked and beaded Christmas ''Lornaments'' (view these works in the Gallery of Designs). In 2007, The Beaded Barnyard took first place in Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' beading contest, Freeform Expression--Home Decor category. And in 2008, I won the first place in the Freeform Expression--Doll category with RoseBud in Her Sky Blue Heaven.

For the 2009 Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Beading Contest, I entered two collections, My Beaded Tribute to the Information Age, which includes a bobble head cow and a bitten apple, and Hear No, See No, Speak No and Do No EVIL, a group of four tiny frogs. These projects keep me entertained as I apply beads one by one. I watch as the beads dictate their position on a critter, anyone who beads knows what I mean. The beads have a mind of their own.

Share Your Background

I came to my beading obsession in a round-about way, you might say ''by accident.'' When I was a child, my mother crocheted beaded bags. They were beautiful. She sewed, wallpapered, etc. She did everything, and did it all well. While I, on the other hand, was left-handed, impatient and dyslexic. In the 1940s and 1950s there was one name for it ... lazy. Many years later, in order to pass the time while waiting for camera set-ups, etc. (in my other life, before beads, I was a model and TV commercial actress), I took up petit point and developed patience. I eventually taught myself to knit, sew, etc. and in the 1960s there were ''love'' beads (I still have some packed away).

In 1994, I suffered a very badly broken left arm and foot. While I was recovering, the first issue of Bead and Button magazine arrived at my bedside. That was the start of my ''magnificent beading obsession.'' I discovered Fire Mountain Gems and Beads in that same, first issue of Bead and Button. During the initial healing process, I knitted dozens of socks to keep my mobility. Once I was up and around, to my dismay, I found my fine motor skills were shot.

Enter seed beads. The challenge of those tiny beads gave me a new lease on life (not to mention a very messy house and no free time). Years later, in 1999, I was in another accident and developed fibromyalgia (at that time it was not recognized by the medical profession). As a result of the all over pain, I found that the only way I could bead was propped up in bed with my arms and shoulders resting on many pillows, the bead tray balanced on my chest, a long armed OTT-LITE® and a good pair of magnifiers. With that, I can bead for hours. My husband calls me ''The Recumbent Beader.''

Beading Success

I only do a few pieces of conventional jewelry a year. My main interest is sculptural peyote. Needless to say, beading and Fire Mountain Gems mean more to me than I can put into words. I made lemonade from lemons (fibro and broken bones) with that first issue of Bead and Button and Fire Mountain Gems.

As a child, I grew up with the Sears' Christmas Wish Book--it has long since vanished. Now as a senior citizen, Fire Mountain Gems has become my new wish book. I have had such positive feedback from Fire Mountain customers about my work, featured in the catalogs and website. My main objective is to bring a smile to people of all ages when they see my ''critters.'' Of all my creative endeavors over the years, beading has been the most satisfying and rewarding. We all need more smiles!

I do hope that my story will encourage others to try beading or any other form of expression. There is an artist in everyone just waiting to be let loose! I owe what I have learned about beading to ALL of the bead artists that contribute their knowledge and expertise to beading books, periodicals, specialty magazines and web sites. You might say I have gone from one type of catalog to another ... first, my image and now, images of my beaded art.

View more of Lorna's designs in the Gallery of Designs.