Paula Hisel

Barefoot Sandal
Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
I am originally from Wichita, Kansas, but currently reside in Nicholasville, Kentucky.

Describe your artistic style.
I love beaded jewelry, and my preferred style is multi-beaded charm pieces...necklaces, bracelets and earrings. I love bright colors, unique color combinations, and pieces that make people feel good inside.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
I find inspiration in so many places: nature, home and garden magazines, beautiful photos, vintage family pictures, unique beads, travel shows on TV, to name a few. Sometimes I buy beads because they are pretty, and then when I get them home, I end up using them in a totally different way than I had imagined.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
BEADS!!! I love unique and one-of-a-kind beads, faceted gemstones, anything that sparkles and cloisonné beads.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
This is a Barefoot Sandal I created last year.

What inspired this design?
I did a barefoot sandal swap with some people I met online (everyone sends a piece to the next person on the list). The beading design was inspired by the Bon Jovi song "Diamond Ring."

How did it come together?
The more I listened to the song, the more inspired I got, so the design evolved as I worked on it.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I have always had a very creative/artistic side and decided to venture into beading about 5 years ago. I started by just making and designing jewelry for myself, but when others saw my work, they began wanting me to make pieces for them too. So Simply Beadiful was born. I love the creative freedom it provides, and being able to make my own jewelry. Although I will be honest and say that the accessories/jewelry section is the first place I head to when I go shopping.

Who introduced you to beading?
Growing up, I spent hours on end admiring my Grandma Winchester's jewelry collection. She loved Avon and always had the latest jewelry from them. I LOVED getting to spend the weekend with her because she would let us try on her jewelry. We would sit on her bed all snuggled up as she would tell us the stories about how she had gotten her jewelry, and then she would let us try it on! It was pure heaven to my little heart. And then the day came when she starting giving jewelry to me!!!!! I could hardly wait for Christmas or my birthday to see what gorgeous treasures I would receive. That passion for jewelry definitely fuels my beading process. Most of the patterns and pieces I create are with her in mind. I wish she was still alive so I could share my work with her.

Do you have an artistic background?
I definitely have a creative vein coursing through my blood. I am the person who looks at something in a store or on TV and then spends hours trying to figure out how it is made and trying to replicate it. My inner voice is constantly asking "I wonder if I could make that?"

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
I used a search engine to find bead providers and came across Fire Mountain Gems and Beads. From the moment I received their big catalog, I was hooked. Bead catalog day is one of my favorite days of the whole month. I sit down and ravenously devour it cover to cover looking for new treasures.

What other hobbies do you have?
Anything outdoors, going to baseball games with my husband, traveling, eating, reading, watching 80's movies.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
Not currently, but I am very interested in starting a local group to further encourage other beaders. And I would love to be able to teach classes locally, whether it be to children, adults or at a senior center.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Creating jewelry has become my passion. Right now, I am only able to do it part-time because I have a full-time job. It can be really hard, especially when I am in the middle of the creative process, or have a burning desire to create a piece. I'll be honest and say that I think about beading all the time. I am always looking at other people's jewelry and looking for new ideas. As weird as it sounds, my best inspirations come while I'm in the bathtub for a long hot bubble bath, or while I am trying to go to sleep.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I have a website and also a shop through ETSY. I also attend as many local craft fairs as possible. I find that while the website is nice for getting the word out, I do the best when people are able to physically touch and see my work. It is hard to get an accurate feel for things when they are just a picture on a website. Since I think that jewelry has an emotional element to it, I enjoy getting to see people experience my work in person. And since different pieces can mean different things to different people, it is good for them to be able to hold it and view it in person.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I have created several pieces for charity auctions, and am always looking for more great charities to work with. Because I think that jewelry can evoke such strong emotions, I love creating pieces that help people feel closer to lost loved ones, help raise awareness, etc. It's nice to feel like my work connects emotionally with people, even if it is in a small way.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Make jewelry you like. It's easy to fall into the trap of making things that might be popular, might sell well, etc. But if you are making pieces you don't like, others won't like them either. Your work is an extension of your inner self, so you should make things that speak to you.