Merritt Gade

Labyrinth Comb Set

Design Idea C24B Tiara

Black Swan
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Contest 2011 featuring Crystal
Bronze Medal Prize Winner
Category: Fashion Accessories

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Austin, Texas

Describe your artistic style.
Organic and spontaneous, but with structure and architecture in mind.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
I am very much inspired by nature, especially plant life. The curving, growing, climbing aspect of vines is found throughout my pieces. I am also inspired by the materials themselves. Metals, gemstones, and colorful beads are so fun to work with.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I love gold, silver, and copper, especially in wire form. I also like natural gemstone beads like garnet, coral, and pearls. Of course, crystals and glass come in so many great colors and textures that they're also on my list of favorites.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Labyrinth Comb Set

What inspired this design?
The film Labyrinth includes a grand ballroom sequence with elaborate costumes. These combs were inspired by the main character's head pieces.

How did it come together?
I thought and thought and thought, and then got to work. My first attempt is usually slow but successful.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I've been crafting jewelry for as long as I can remember, but started officially in college. I received my degree in Fine Arts from the University of Oregon in 1999.

Who introduced you to beading?
My mother and grandmother were both always crafting and creating. Beading was always a part of the bag of tricks to pull from when getting crafty for gifts, costumes, and fun.

Do you have an artistic background?
I earned my undergraduate degree in Fine Arts and have completed many courses in other areas in my spare time over the years.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
I was born and raised in Grants Pass! But only learned about Fire Mountain a couple years ago through a friend who is still there. A great resource with so many options!

What other hobbies do you have?
I love hiking, geocaching, reading, upholstery, gardening, and hanging out with friends with food and beers on a porch.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
I'm in several crafting, wire-working, and jewelry groups, most of which are online.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry and hair accessory making are my full-time job. I love it and love to do it every day.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I have an Etsy shop (, have shelf space in several stores around Central Texas, and participate in various handmade selling events throughout the year.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I donate silent auction items to charities on occasion. I hope to one day be able to donate more items and monetary gifts to charities in my area.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Make what you love!