Amanda Douthit

Amanda Douthit

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2010 featuring Crystal


Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Hampton Roads, Virginia

Describe your artistic style.
I create pieces that reflect the organic beauty that is nature. Flowing line is present in much of my work, and frequently pieces are reminiscent of flowers, seed pods, leaves, or branches. My work is designed to complement the wearer, enhancing their own beauty instead of overpowering and dominating their look.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
The beauty of creation is a constant inspiration. Every day I'm caught by the color combinations of leaves against the sky, the knotty tangle of trees and vines outside my door, and even just the simple structure of a leaf, the network of veins and color. I occasionally pull inspiration from fantasy or science-fiction literature, and this occasionally produces work that captures the hard angles of the man-made.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I use metals, stones, glass, beads, and am currently exploring resin. In particular, I enjoy the manipulation of metal, and use stones or beads as points of color to draw the viewer's eye.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Autumn Winds

What inspired this design?
I originally designed this piece to accompany a dress I was wearing to a formal. This is version two; I was so pleased with the initial design that I redid it with more attention to detail, line flow, and color distribution. The design was meant to complement the paisley design of the dress, but invoke a more natural feel, with the suggestion of wind chimes and autumn breezes.

How did it come together?
I initially looked at the neckline of the dress, and realized it needed a lengthy necklace with a high point of focus. The dangles and the bead cluster popped into my mind immediately, but the chain section took some trial and error to find the right complement. The wire swirls appeared in version two, as the design needed something that would break up the straight lines of the chains, and I worked it out on paper to find the best series of lines to complement the existing form.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I've been interested in jewelry creation since I persuaded my parents to buy me some spools of colored copper wiring, so I could make long earrings. That was in elementary school, and I have puttered around with jewelry-making ever since. I developed a more serious interest in college, and have been actively pursuing my own studio since.

Who introduced you to beading?
I honestly can't remember. My childhood best friend and her family exposed me to more serious beading, but I did not try it myself until much later.

Do you have an artistic background?
I do. I graduated from college with a BFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry. I have always preferred to create things that were touchable--jewelry is the perfect combination of art and usefulness. My instructors were always encouraging me to work larger, but I have a penchant for the tiny and detailed!

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
My good childhood friend and her family always ordered all their beads from you, and they introduced you to me as the wonderful resource you are.

What other hobbies do you have?
I enjoy reading fantasy and sci-fi, creating my own clothing, and do a little bit of writing. Occasionally I have enough time to paint as well!

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
For me, jewelry-making is attempting to leap from hobby to part-time career. I currently have a studio in my mother-in-law's garage, and am trying to find regular hours to spend there while also working. I'm always thinking about designs, however, and of course I carry a sketch-book around with me to record them all. I love to create things--anything--that make people happy, and I feel that jewelry is a way to express my ideas while creating something specifically designed for a person to enjoy. Occasionally my designs are formed with a particular person in mind. I will say jewelry-making is a bit hard on my hands, but I hope to eventually purchase tools to ease that.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
Currently, I do a few commissions here and there. My plan is to generate a body of work, set up a website, and start entering contests and shows. The majority of my pieces right now are either from college or they are commissions. I'm still finding the time to sit down for myself and finish a series of pieces that consistently demonstrate my style. I have the ideas down on paper, however! I know I do not yet have enough offerings to go out there and sell my work.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I actually just donated a pair of rowan-berry inspired earrings to the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation's annual masquerade ball. Raven Maria Blanco died in the dentist's chair from medical complications with the anesthesia, but she would have lived if the dentist had had the proper medical kit. Dentists are not currently required to have a crash kit, so if a patient's heart stops beating, they have no way to resuscitate them. The foundation does an auction to raise money for trying to change the current dentist's guidelines.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
There are so many resources out there to learn from! Fire Mountain, the library, the internet, and so many local beading stores offer classes. Try new things! And always carry around a notebook for when that next great idea strikes!