Glenda Collings

Malita's Malachite Necklace
Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Describe your artistic style.
Beauty in beads...

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
When I first bought a starter kit I made my first necklace and couldn't believe that I signed and made a necklace. Beading became my passion and a boredom killer for me during my free time. Whenever I wasn't at work I would find myself working on a project or going shopping for more beads. I realized that I had diverted my shopping sprees to bead hunting. I started to get the satisfaction of seeing my friends wear my designs and look so pretty in them. I would admire the pieces on their necks and say out loud that there sure is ''beauty in beads''. Beading became my addiction.

Going back to my family background in Africa, Zambia, part of my family members are into the mining business. They mine for semi-precious stones such as amethyst, aquamarine, tanzanite, garnet which they sell mostly as raw products. I never really cared about the business but appreciated nature's amazing beauty and color in rocks. I remember going to my uncle's house and would see some of the lowest and probably worthless grades strewn in the driveway as part of the I say to myself oh! So we were actually walking on would-be beads. Because I have seen that any stone/rock once polished can be turned into attractive beads. Whenever I make jewelry now I do think about the 'driveway' and what I would do with the gravel once turned into beads.

I like to customize to my customers. All I ask is for them to tell me what color, size and bead type they would like. Then I come up with a design and they love the end result and a finished jewel.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I love to work with glass seed beads and semi-precious gem stones with gold, silver and copper wires and findings and also, I love pearls which are my birthstone and shell, too. My dream for the future is to use the pure metals rather than the coated ones I use now, because most people tell me that they react to the plated. I would also want to make my own beads by turning stone into beautiful beads. I am just looking for the opportunity to get me into it.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Malita's Malachite Necklace

What inspired this design?
I was thinking about my little girl Malita. If she had lived long enough to see me bead I would have made it for her…unfortunately, that will never be, but just dream on and design more.

How did it come together?
I had the Zambian malachite beads which I have had for years. I wanted to make a piece that would catch people's attention. I just wanted to put together a lot of mother nature's malachite gem stones into one piece of jewelry.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
It was about three years ago when I saw a girlfriend repairing her broken necklace. I fell in love with her jewelry-making starter kit. I asked her where she got it from and I told her that I was going to buy myself one that day since I had the day off. I went to JoAnne's craft store and bought one since they had good deals going that day.

I have another friend who has been beading for a long time now and is so good with her work which I admired a lot. It was during summer time when she invited me to bead with her at her camper, which was an awesome idea. She taught me how to begin and finish a project because initially I was doing it all wrong. With her help I was able to put a neat finish to my projects and I loved even more whatever I designed, and so did my friends who wore them.

Who introduced you to beading?
The first person that ever mentioned beading to me was a cardiologist whose father was a client of mine when I was living-in as a home health aide. He came visiting his father and as we talked he thought I was too bored and could supposedly use part of my time (probably put to good use) like jewelry-making while his dad was sleeping. I thought about it and I really didn't like the idea at I brushed the idea aside. After his father passed away, I went back to a full-time nurse's aide job. Then one day, when I went to see my friend at her clothing store, I found her repairing her broken necklace and I fell in love with the starter kit.

Do you have an artistic background?
I would say I do have it in me, just didn't know it all these years. When I worked in the hotel industry I would come up with some admirable decors. And now with bead-making I love to see my end products and hear people appreciate my work. It gives me joy and encouragement to do more and more.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
I discovered Fire Mountain Gems through my beading friend Sue, the one that taught me how to begin and finish a project. She has been with Fire Mountain for years she said. She has quite a collection of the magazines and she advised me to join so I could receive some as well and also buy from the wide variety of beads they have.

What other hobbies do you have?
I love to travel and admire the world's beauty even though I don't do much of it due to tight financial situation.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
I don't belong to any beading club other than with my friend.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry-making is now part of my life as a part-time hobby. It emotionally takes my mind away from thinking about the misfortunes I have had. I tend to put my mind on my project and only think about it as the one to bring me luck or be the right one to go on the right neck and hopefully be noticed by millions of people out there. It is more like holding a frog in your hand and hoping that it turns out into a Prince Charming.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I have been to very few craft shows locally where I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I have put some of my pieces on Facebook and I have not had much luck. I have not entered into any contests yet.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I have not been exposed to any yet but would love to in future when I come across the charity fundraisers.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
When you know and feel that you are into beading, you will be addicted to it so that you will find yourself walking more into craft stores than you ever did before. Ideas will just flow and you'll feel the satisfaction of the project on someone's's simply an awesome feeling.