Describe your artistic style. Unique stringing method that I developed, giving my creations a vine-like quality. I never created the same exact design twice. Flowers, leaves and other elements of nature are mainstays in my work. I love the contrast of glass and gemstones paired together and combine them often in my design.
What inspires you as a designer-artist? Infinite combinations of colors and forms in nature. Mother nature provides a tremendous wealth of material that can be called upon when seeking inspiration.
What materials do you most enjoy working with? Czech glass pressed into flowers, leaves, and other organic forms are my favorite beads. There forms are the backbone for most of my pieces. Gemstones with rich color ant texture inspire me to incorporate them wherever I can. Seed beads are the glue that brings everything together. The contrast of materials is a very important element in the pieces I create.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story? Garden of Pearls
What inspired this design? The boldness of the pearls in the designs. Being large and a bit funky they reminded me of a comment printed in a Fire Mountain catalog that pearls of all grades have a place. They did and I loved them. They were going to be mine! Combining them with the delicate glass flowers and cloisonné produced the finished product that has brought rave reviews from everyone that has seen them. It was strung using my vine method, which gives the necklace a slight flex.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading? I dabbed briefly in jewelry design in college many years ago. Later lacking proper equipment and resources I moved onto other artistic endeavors.
Who introduced you to beading? Several years ago I found my first Czech glass beads shaped into flowers and leaves. I fell in love and bought some. The shapes and colors fascinated me but I had no idea what to do with them. They remained in their box unused until 2007.
Do you have an artistic background? After retiring from my first career my thoughts once again returned to jewelry-making. I started acquiring materials and teaching myself the basic skills of beading. I taught watercolor painting for many years.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®? Online.
What other hobbies do you have? Gardening, I maintain a vegetable garden and a number of flower gardens. Raise goats, horses, and chickens.
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups? I am the founding member of both Gateway East Artists' Guild, having served as president and board member, and Belleville Area Wood Carvers'. As an active member of the guild I paint in watercolors and create my jewelry. The wood sculptures, that I was once well known for, have been put aside.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life? Beading has become a very important part of my life. I now consider it my new full-time career. The summer months are taken up with marketing and art shows and I do very little actual creating during this time. Starting around September and continuing through March creating new pieces becomes my full-time job. I am at my work table by 9 a.m. in the morning and usually stop around 4 in the afternoon. It is not unusual for me to go back for a few hours after dinner when inspiration strikes. I have been an artist my entire life. Nothing has ever been as satisfying for me as creating my Vines in Bloom. My work is intricate yet it never seems to tire me. Creating with gemstones and beads brings me a feeling of peace and well being that I never experienced with other forms of art.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry? Displaying my jewelry at art shows in both Illinois and Missouri gives me the opportunity for the success of future creations. I have added to my line and modified some items because of comments made during these shows. Listening to other's ideas can provide valuable insight into what they really want. My work is for sale at regional gallery/gift shops on a commission basis. I also show my jewelry in my art guild's regular shows and competitions as well as art and craft makers. My web site is currently under construction and I am looking forward to seeing how that will do for me.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers? I often donate my work to charity fundraisers. I have provided a number of items to be auctioned off at benefits. These items are made specifically for the 4-H projects. Items are also donated to benefit Pediatric Brain Cancer Research and the training and care of adults with developmental challenges. I never hesitate to share my talent for a good cause. This is a great way to let others know who I am, what I do, and help the community.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists? Find a style you love and develop it. Show your work at craft and jewelry shows and pay attention to the reactions people have to your items. Observe what other jewelry artists are doing. Talk to them about what is working for them. Most artists are more than willing to share information on what works for them and what doesn't.