||Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Describe your artistic style.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
The challenge of incorporating the old and making it into something new. My challenge?? Trying to use up my mother's "stash," lol.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Anything of my mom's!! Vintage crystals. Pearls.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
What inspired this design?
The crystals are all vintage from my mom. Our classes LOVE watch designs. This summer I have learned bead weaving and this is a right-angle weave design. The picture of me that I sent...no, I am not the young one on the right...Jenn, our daughter, is also wearing a set I made from her grandmother's pearls!
How did it come together?
I tried this with other stones first to see if it would work. My first design I had all done and realized the watch face wasn't working!! I tried changing the battery to no avail. I chuckled as I remember the number of times my mother was still working on jewelry in the wee hours of the morning (dad had long since gone to bed!) and here I was at 1 a.m. taking it all apart, getting another watch face and doing it again. Once I felt it was a good design, I worked with the vintage stuff of Mom's. The heart clasp is just a tribute to the hours of love my mother put into teaching herself this craft and giving back to others through the money she raised.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
When I inherited just a small part of my mother's "stash" I thought I would give it a try. My husband and I pastor a congregation so I invited a beading teacher from a local community center in to teach a few classes...and I guess I inherited it...I was hooked.
Who introduced you to beading?
Do you have an artistic background?
No, not really...creative I guess from mom...also a musical family.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
Searching online for supplies.
What other hobbies do you have?
Sewing, folk art painting...but those are kind of in the past since beading!
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
No, unless you consider the little class I now teach at our church. A "society!" or a group I probably need to start called "beader's anonymous"! (the "dry" version of alcoholics anonymous")
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
It's a hobby, but I often wake up thinking of beading and I now have realized I cannot look at books or magazines before bed or I can't go to sleep! Just love it and it gives me the opportunity to meet new people in our community through our classes. My most precious moment of beading was the necklace and earrings my daughter recently wore for her wedding made from vintage crystals and pearls of her grandmother's. She couldn't be at the wedding at 88 years old but her presence was felt around my daughter's neck. Her grandfather passed away 8 years ago, but she always wore her watch the same way as he did...with the face in toward the body. She asked for his old watch to remember him. For her wedding, I beaded a watch strap of crystals. Mom's pearls and the blue the bridesmaids wore and she put that around the base of her bouquet. Her precious grandfather was close to her heart as she walked down the aisle and held that bouquet. I also made earrings and bracelets for each of the bridesmaids as my gift for their wonderful support of my daughter.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I am on Etsy (lohdiesplace), do some craft fairs and teach a monthly class. My husband would add one other option for this question...I use jewelry-making as a way to move through my mother's stash that takes up room in our home!! I would not consider myself a jewelry "success" in the way we might normally define it--"fame and fortune" (I have a full time job!)--but each time I teach those classes, introduce a new person to beading, figure out a design that would use more of Mom's "stash"--or the day my daughter and her bridesmaids walked down that aisle--that was success enough for me!
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
You probably need to know my mom's story. She was an officer with The Salvation Army and ran a senior's home. In searching for Christmas gifts for her women she developed a relationship with Coro Jewelry in Canada. In finding out that anything broken or returned was thrown out she asked if she could have them and thus began her journey in teaching herself to make jewelry. She would re-tool things, fix them, redesign and have sales at the senior's home. For over 20 years she did this and then sent the proceeds to Salvation Army Missionaries at Christmas. (Two of which, in seven of that 20 years were her daughter and son-in-law in Zaire and Zimbabwe.) When my father had a stroke, she then used the money to support an Aphasia center in Toronto, Canada, that he attended. I now teach a monthly class at the Salvation Army in Old Orchard Beach, Maine and my proceeds go to keep the costs down in those classes and buy resource books and supplies. Recently, I participated in a Music Camp in Alberta, Canada, teaching music, but also got to introduce faculty members to beading! They were hooked, so any free time was spent weaving bracelets! My most recent opportunity I hope, is to teach a beading class to adolescents in a hospital ward.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Dream, love what you do, give back with the "gift" that has been give you.