||Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
I live in Mountain Ranch, California in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We have 10 acres and lots of critters including dogs, chickens, a cat and a desert tortoise!
Describe your artistic style.
I do bead embroidery and love the tiny beads! I am also addicted to stone cabochons and enjoy incorporating them into my designs. Most of my work is very detailed and pretty much flat, as I have always been a fan of the Native American flat beadwork of the past. I am a very literal person and look at my beadwork as a way to enhance the focal piece, to just follow the theme and where the stone tells me to go.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
It is all about the stone cabochons. I seek out stones that have a scene or remind me of a place I have been. Nature is pretty amazing and as long as there are beautiful cabochons I cannot ever picture myself running out of inspiration.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I really love cabochons! Some people buy shoes, I buy cabochons. I will spend hours online looking at them. I also really love seed beads, the smaller the better.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
At the Zoo
What inspired this design?
One of the monthly challenges for the Etsy Beadweavers team was to create a piece based on a Simon and Garfunkel song. I chose "At the Zoo".
How did it come together?
This is the only piece I have created where I actually drew it out. I then made templates for each animal and transferred them onto the beading foundation. I finished each animal and then did the background. The hardest animals turned out to be the monkeys, I guess because they are so hairy!
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
About 25 years ago my best friend introduced me to seed beading. She was involved with bead embroidery on buckskin and also made Native American style earrings. I didn't do much with it until I inherited my grandfather's cabochons which he cut and polished in the 1960s. I was visiting a friend and saw her beading around a glass cabochon and that piqued my interest in beading again. I started out just beading around the cabs and then slowly I started doing more and more embroidery.
Who introduced you to beading?
My best friend Janine showed me the basics. She has always been an inspiration to me and there isn't anything she does that she doesn't succeed at!
Do you have an artistic background?
I drew so much as a child my mother used to go to the local newspaper and get the end of the rolls of the newsprint so she could afford my drawing habit! I didn't get the nick-name Susie Busy Hands for nothing! I drew, I painted, I did pen and ink. I made wire mobiles, painted rocks, made candles and basically drove my parents crazy with my artistic endeavors. I sewed my own clothes, designed cross stitch patterns from my photographs, and anything I could find to keep my fingers busy.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
Many, many years ago I remember seeing a small catalog about the size of one of the beading magazines. It was a FMG catalog. Once I started beading again I was totally blown away by the size of the catalog!
What other hobbies do you have?
I love camping, hiking and exploring the back roads, mines and ghost towns in the desert.
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
I live in a very rural area and have been invited to join a bead society but the meetings are over 3 hours away. I am in the Etsy Beadweavers team and that is fun and inspirational.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
I would bead 24/7 if I could. We own a retail nursery and I own a small bead shop next to it. I run back and forth between the two and bead 5 or 10 minutes at a time. I am selling more and more jewelry and find myself getting stressed because I sometimes cannot keep up.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I own a small bead shop/bead gallery but most of my jewelry sales are on Etsy. I also have a beautiful web site and my catalog is a link to my Etsy shop. Entering contests and sending my work in to beading magazines also gets my name out there. I have had 3 pieces appear in the "Your Work" section of a beading magazine. I recently opened a Facebook page for my beadwork and that really draws people to my Etsy shop. Most of my pieces go to the east coast and several have gone to Europe and Australia. I love entering contests.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I have donated pieces for our local Humane Society, school fundraisers and hospice.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Keep at it. Always remember there are peaks and valleys. It is easy to get discouraged but it seems that a peak will appear just when you think the valley will never end! Always push your envelope. The worst thing that can happen is that you will have to tear it all apart! That's what is so great about beads!
View all of Sue's designs in the Gallery of Designs.