|Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
Describe your artistic style.
Religious heirlooms. I make Catholic rosaries and Christian Jewelry using the most unique combinations of beads and components I can find and construction that will last to be passed down to the next generation.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
My faith and looking through beautiful beads, many of which I find at Fire Mountain.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I prefer to work with natural gemstones and pearls because they are God's own artwork in all their splendor and variations. I also like to work with handcrafted sterling silver beads, like the Thai Hill tribes beads and textured Bali beads, and handmade lampworked glass, usually in floral or nature themes. I wire wrap with sterling silver wire and use Accu-Flex® for my designs made with sterling silver spacer beads.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
What inspired this design?
Stella Maris means Star of the Sea. It is one of the names given to the Virgin Mary. I think that because I spent every summer at the beach as a child and teenager. The soothing crashing of the surf and cries of seagulls just seemed to call for meditation and a rosary that brought that meditation to such a peaceful and relaxing plane.
How did it come together?
I had designed a prior version of this rosary with the Hill Tribes beads, but when I found the hand-cast heirloom crucifix and Ave Maria center, it really pulled it all together.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I started making rosaries 19 years ago when I was a new convert to the Catholic faith and wanted a set of rosary beads that I could tell which were the Our Fathers and which were the Hail Marys. So many people who saw my rosary wanted one, so I made them as a fundraiser for my parish for about 10 years.
Who introduced you to beading?
A friend asked me to help her make some mission rosaries on cord with plastic beads, and then I found that there was a wide variety of better quality beads and components available.
Do you have an artistic background?
Yes, my parents were both artistic. Dad was a commercial artist and Mom was a floral designer. I put myself through college doing charcoal and pastel portraits at shopping malls and on the Ocean City, MD board walk. After I became allergic to chalk dust, I did some stage photography for local bands and also do some repair and repainting of old religious statues.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
A friend who does jewelry craft shows gave me an old Fire Mountain catalog when she got a new one, back in 1996. Wow, Fire Mountain has expanded since then!
What other hobbies do you have?
Making crafts and playing cards with friends at church.
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
I used to belong to some online groups, but I don't have time for that now. I do belong to a local Christians in Business networking group that meets monthly.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
God helped me turn a part-time hobby into a full-time job after I retired from teaching. The work is seasonal; from October to June I have a deluge of orders. July through September are slower, but just enough to keep me going. I have had to hire another artisan to help me during the busy season. I have carpal tunnel and other physically limiting challenges, but I have a great chiropractor and massage therapist to keep me going physically. My faith and my church activities and creating rosaries take care of my spiritual/emotional ones.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I have my own website, www.magnificatrosaries.com.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
Yes. I donate a rosary every year to my former parish for their yearly auction to raise money for their youth group, and another to my current parish for their auction/raffle for general parish funds. I also donate Trinity bracelets to the Habitat for Humanity auctions, and donate beads to two monasteries where the nuns make rosaries for their gift shop as a means of supporting themselves, and to two local ministries that go to Haiti and Cuba.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Do what you love. Everyone has their own niche. Many people have suggested that I make necklaces or earrings, but aside from doing that for the craft bazaar at church, it is not what pulls me.