||Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
I live off the grid about 6 miles outside of Grants Pass, Oregon. I love the peace and quiet that my cabin offers. I live close to nature with no electricity and few conveniences.
Describe your artistic style.
I feel I am more craftsy than artistic.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
I love nature and friends.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I like trying new things but am drawn to natural stones and metals. My favorite piece was a ring I cast for my son with his name as the focal.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
What inspired this design?
I made several pairs for our annual church Christmas bazaar and showed them to my supervisor who thought they would be great inspiration on our website.
How did it come together?
I had seen some similar items made with Swarovski crystals. I knew I was going to donate them, so I chose more affordable products to donate. I didn't have a pattern. I just remembered what I had seen and goofed around until I found a combination that worked for me.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
As a Girl Scout leader for over 12 years, beading projects are almost a requirement. Teaching little girls to make animals with pony beads requires lots of patience. It is rewarding to see those same girls eventually make the same animals with seed beads. Teaching these same girls to make, glaze and fire beads is interesting too.
Who introduced you to beading?
I don't remember who introduced me to beading. I do remember that my great grandfather used to collect rocks and tumble, polish and cut them. I wish I still had all the wonderful bracelets and necklaces that he made. He was deaf and hard to communicate with but I always knew how he felt by what he was working on. He used to cut shapes like diamonds, hearts, teardrops and for some weird reason little tiny axes.
Do you have an artistic background?
I have always enjoyed art. I do not have a formal background in art, although I've taken several classes throughout my life. I have dabbled in water colors and ceramics.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
I had just completed my AA at the local community college. I needed a couple of credits to fill in towards my BA. I took a class in metalsmithing. I was intrigued. The teacher kept talking about Fire Mountain Gems and Beads. I really didn't know anything about this company that was in my own home town. While driving home from class one day I saw a sign that said "now hiring." They were taking applications in mass and giving interviews all at the same time. On impulse, I pulled into the already-full parking lot and decided to apply. Besides school it was one of the best things I had done for myself in a long time. I was offered a position in customer service and have since moved into publishing. I love working here. It feels like family and I feel at home.
What other hobbies do you have?
I love photography and nature.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
I make jewelry for fun. I love it when I can give someone a gift that comes straight from my heart and touches theirs.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I don't sell my designs... I usually give them away. Once, I went to a restaurant and the waitress just gushed about a bracelet that I made and was wearing. I gave her a tip, but I also gave her the bracelet which fit her perfectly. At first she didn't want to take it, but I assured her it was okay because I had made it and I could give it to whomever I wanted. I have never felt so honored. It excited me to know someone loved it as much I did and I can always make another.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
While I don't sell my jewelry I have been known to donate my jewelry to my church bazaar. After my first donation, I was very pleased to find that my jewelry sold out completely. I am still amazed when I go to church and see someone wearing items that I have made.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
The only advice I have for aspiring jewelry-artists is have fun. Not everything turns out the way you want it to the first time. Use mistakes to learn something and keep going.