Tracey Lopez

Native Sun
Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Allentown, Pennsylvania

Describe your artistic style.
I would define my style as eclectic with a sophisticated and cultural flair.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
So many things inspire me! Nature primarily, but also fine art, fashion and interior design. I'm always on the lookout for a new color combination.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I mostly enjoy working with organic materials including semi precious gemstones, wood and bone. I also enjoy the simplicity of glass as well as antique metals. Saturated color and earth tones are my favorites.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Native Sun

What inspired this design?
I really enjoy using dark saturated colors and pewter with cultural or celestial symbols. This piece is a combination of all of those things.

How did it come together?
My signature bracelet is the coil style. I was playing with the beads on my work station and was struck with the notion to "mix it together." I mixed the colors into a bead soup and randomly strung them on the coil. It was finished off with the wrapped looped spirals.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I've been playing with beads since I was about 10 years old. Those were the days I was making friendship bracelets and pins to share with my friends. I continued tinkering with beading throughout my teens. It wasn't until my late twenties that it became more serious for me and I began to research and really learn more professional jewelry techniques. I've since learned some metalsmithing and bead stitching. Now I'm exploring the mixed media avenue.

Who introduced you to beading?
Summer camp as a kid was my first encounter with pony beads and lanyard.

Do you have an artistic background?
I'm currently pursuing a degree in fine arts and graphic design. I consider myself a mixed media artist. My art interests are so varied. Jewelry making is my primary focus at the moment but when my muse wants variety I mix it with the other interests as well.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
I discovered FMG when I was shopping online. I requested a catalog and I've been hooked ever since. It's one of the best resources available to beaders.

What other hobbies do you have?
Besides making mixed media art, I'm also a huge fan of reading, internet researching, listening to music and romantic strolls with my husband Rafael.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
I belong to the Bead Society of Eastern Pennsylvania.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Without sounding too dramatic, I'd have to say jewelry making is like a healing salve. On some of my worst days, I find that if I can just be surrounded by my beautiful beads - even if I'm not necessarily creating anything, it makes me feel better. Those moments when I'm preparing for a show or making a gift are special too because it's a transportive experience. It cheers my mood and gets the adrenaline flowing. I wish it could be a full time career but currently it's only part time.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
Selling jewelry has generated a small income for me but I believe that it's a direct reflection of how much time I have to allocate to it. The more time I put into planning and participation in shows, the greater the profits. I'm currently beginning the process of setting up an online shop on that will be launched hopefully before the holiday season this year. I have a website that I use mainly as a portfolio and communication tool. I haven't entered any contests yet but it's on my heart to do so. Finding "free time" between work, school and my jewelry business is a challenge. I mostly sell at shows, which is a really fun experience. The only mailing I send out is email about an upcoming event I may be having. I'm researching how to more effectively market my products.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I've been approached often to contribute products/artwork to causes. It's something I believe that is enriching for the artist and also good for exposure. So far it's been mostly local public and private schools but I've also supported The Vagina Monologues, the Lehigh Valley Zoo and The Caring Place.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
The things that work for me that I continuously work on are these: One - Be a learner. I find that the more I read about the business of selling, the more I need to read! Trends change and unless we all have MBAs or degrees in marketing and communications, it helps to learn as much as you can about the industry. Two - Practice makes perfect. Very few people make perfect anything the first time they make it but as you practice your skills improve. I believe that is true across the board. My first wrapped loop was a mess! Three - Have excellent customer service and presentation. Two vendors can have similar products but customers will always pick/return to the one that will go the extra mile and do it professionally.