Valorie Clifton

Ice Queen
Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
I live in the Panhandle of Florida, just outside of Pensacola in a very nice, small town.

Describe your artistic style.
I would say my style is eclectic. I'm all over the place, from ethnic pieces to period pieces, Renaissance pieces to modern, sculptural pieces. I like both ornate and minimalist styles, but most often I prefer simpler styles, especially pieces that incorporate copper or brass. I love to create bead woven items, chain mail, and recently I've developed a passion for wirework.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
It's hard to pinpoint any one thing that inspires me. Sometimes random designs just pop into my head while working or watching TV. I get inspired by learning new techniques most of all. I'm entirely self-taught, and most of what I've learned I found online. I love to watch videos and learn new bead stitches and techniques. Sometimes just seeing a new bead stitch sets off a string of ideas!

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I love to work with seed beads, cabochons, pearls, crystals and natural gemstones. I love rough, unpolished stones also! My love of natural materials led to my obsession with copper. I make nearly all my own earwires and components now from copper and brass. The earthy feel and look just draw me in!

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Ice Queen

What inspired this design?
This design was inspired by my love for the coral fringe technique. I wanted to make an impactful necklace. I accented the fringe with large vintage faux pearls for extra ''pop.''

How did it come together? For example, did you plan it out or did it define itself once you began working?
I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I ended up just ''winging it'' as I went along, as I so often do. I design as I progress on my pieces.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I used to make beaded barrettes on a loom when I was a teenager, but I only recently got serious about beading and jewelry. I've had my jewelry business for about a year now.

Who introduced you to beading?
I'd have to say that my mother did. She always encouraged my crafts growing up, and she is my biggest fan! She hands my business cards to everyone and brags on me all the time.

Do you have an artistic background?
I do! My mother is an artist. She paints portraits and murals and scenery. Recently, she does engraving on glass and paints bottles. My brother likes to draw, and he carves wood and does wood burning.

I started out with fiber arts when I was very young. I learned to crochet at 7 and soon was immersed in every form of stitchery you could imagine! My entire life I've sewn, quilted, embroidered, woven, done plastic canvas, knitted, crocheted, you name it! Beadwork was an extension of sewing for me that opened up a whole new realm of creativity.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
Fire Mountain Gems is the mecca for bead artists! I'd seen the catalogs in the mail long before I started beading. Once I began my online learning, I discovered the beading instructions and galleries here. I bought my very first beading supplies here.

What other hobbies do you have?
I enjoy reading most of all when I'm not beading. I have a library full of books, and I've passed that love of books on to my children. We love to watch movies together and shop together. My family is very close-knit. I have a wonderful husband of 18 years, and we have two fantastic and gifted children, ages 12 and 14. I also love to browse all the art websites on the net and learn new things.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
I don't currently belong to a beading society but I do belong to a copper wire jewelers group. I am also a juried artist at the Santa Rosa Arts and Culture Foundation's Dragonfly Gallery in Milton, Florida. I am a very proud member of the foundation. I proudly display some of my best pieces in their art gallery.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry-making is an everyday thing in my life. If I'm not making jewelry, I'm thinking of jewelry. I'm always thinking of ways to improve my craft, my photos, my online marketing and everything related to my beadwork. I left a wonderful job in the tax and bookkeeping field to pursue my dreams of owning my own business.

My business is in its first year and everything is a learning process for me, but I plan to be popular one day. I've had a few successes with custom ordered pieces and sets. Every sale just fills me with wonder that something I make is going to impact another person!

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I sell my jewelry on Etsy but most of my sales are local or from word-of-mouth. I sell at a wonderful art gallery that I'm so proud to be a member of.

I use my fan page on Facebook as an advertising and networking venue. I love to interact with other artisans, and I've made so many wonderful friendships through both Twitter and Facebook that will far outlast my business. We bounce ideas off each other, critique each others' works, inspire each other and encourage each other. My Facebook address is

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I am considering joining a group on Etsy that contributes to cancer research.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Don't give up! In today's economy, selling jewelry is incredibly hard! Don't let slow sales or even no sales discourage you. Things will happen for you. I'm still waiting for things to be where I want them to be but I'm starting to see an increase in activity. Perseverance pays off, even if it takes a while. If jewelry is in your heart and creativity is in your spirit, create! Eventually people will take notice.