Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Contest 2010
Grand Prize Gold Medal Winner
||Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Describe your artistic style.
My style is mainly symmetrical, blending colors in unique combinations and developing new techniques for the design I have in mind.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
I'm inspired by both the precision of mathematics and the freeform style of nature, following a specific pattern or letting the color and shape of the beads dictate the design. Music is also a great inspiration.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I enjoy working with three and four millimeter round beads like pearls and gemstones with layers of tiny seed beads--it's like painting with beads. I also work with crystal and gemstone cabochons in embroidery pieces.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
What inspired this design?
The combination of shiny, matte and transparent druk beads with layers of bronze seed beads inspired an elegant, refined look--kind of a Tuxedo meets Italian Princess.
How did it come together?
To broaden my right-angle weave skills, I began with a variation of my beaded beads--cone shaped beads that fit inside each other in progressive sizes. The curve of the medallion was challenging but added immensely to the overall design.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
As a tapestry weaver during the '70's I tried some peyote work, but bead sources were scarce. I picked it up again in 2003 and soon discovered all the creative possibilities of beadwork.
Do you have an artistic background?
I have a background in tapestry weaving on a loom, art and graphic design.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
I received a gift certificate to Fire Mountain Gems for Mother's Day from my daughter. I love the huge selection of products and the quantity discounts.
What other hobbies do you have?
When I'm not beading you'll find me on the back of my husband's Harley, or in a canoe floating down the Platte River in Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
West Michigan Beaders Guild.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
I am always beading, or thinking about my next project. I love the process, from designing to techniques to finished product and all the frustrations and triumphs along the way. My husband also got involved, cutting and polishing cabochons for my jewelry.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I sell my jewelry at juried art shows with my husband/roadie, Tom. I mail out postcards to customers and have a website at www.amyjohnsondesigns.com. I enter many contests and submit work to magazines.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
Each year I donate several pieces to The Children's Alliance of Kent County, Michigan and a toy drive auction in Washington, D.C.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Persevere--keep working through your design. I find that mistakes often lead to new discoveries. Hone your skills then reach for the stars--sell at local shows, enter a contest, submit a piece to be published. The challenge of contests has led to some of my best work.
View all of Amy's designs in the Gallery of Designs.