Maren Mehnert

Amethyst Amour

Design Idea BC0W Necklace

Worth Its Wait
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2011 featuring Pearls, Organic Beads and Molding Clay

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Describe your artistic style.
Not for the faint of heart, my style is a blend of fashion forward thinking with roots reaching deep into the past centuries. Colour is very important to me--I do not see the world in black and white so I rarely use these colours! Unusual colour combinations or elements that surprise and delight draw my interest. Intricate beadwork is my first love but I combine stringing with my beadwork if I wish to make up a quicker piece. Feminine always and, most definitely, for a woman who knows her own heart and isn't afraid to let others know it too!

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
History, nature, and trend analysis are my inspirations. The mood I'm in will dictate which piece I work with on a daily basis and I have many to choose from that are in mid-production state! The colour of the sky may delight me so much that I'm driven to begin yet another piece to capture that moment.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Seed beads are my favourite. Thousands of colour and size possibilities will keep me busy for many happy years to come! I also love semi-precious stones and freshwater pearls. And, who can leave out yummy crystals? Their elegance puts a piece over the top every time!

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Amethyst Amour

What inspired this design?
My mother has inspired me throughout my life. A woman born in the 1920s with the drive and ambition of a woman born in the 1980s, she stood up for her beliefs, was open-minded, non-judgmental, and an amazing parent. She also loved jewels, the bigger the better!

How did it come together?
On her passing, I inherited an unset 19 carat amethyst from Uruguay that my father had given to her. A teardrop shape, it is an exquisite very dark purple velvet. My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 7. I decided to teach myself bead crochet so that I could blend the art and love of three generations into one piece in my mother's memory. I didn't design or sketch anything, just let the ideas take hold and used the colours she loved to complete the piece. It is my first bead crochet rope and first bezeled stone. Thanks to Ann Benson's book on crochet beading and Laura McCabe's book on bezeling crystals, I taught myself what I needed to know to be successful and make a piece I know my mother would have loved.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I have loved fashion since I was a young child. Cutting out the latest styles from my mother's Vogue magazines to put on my Barbie's was the beginning. I received a loom as a gift with tiny seed beads and began producing bracelets and chokers until all wrists and necks around me were adorned with my pieces. While my career in fashion took up several decades, it wasn't until I was a full-time stay-at-home Mummy that I picked up stringing necklaces again, about 6 years ago.

Who introduced you to beading?
After stringing a few (dozen) necklaces, it didn't take long for me to pick up a Beadwork and Bead and Button magazine ... Then, you guessed it, I was bitten by the beadweaving bug and haven't let go!

Do you have an artistic background?
My background was meant to be law ... My heart drove me into the world of Fashion where I specialized in wholesale and retail operations and importing of women's apparel.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
I discovered Fire Mountain Gems and Beads on the back cover of EVERY beading magazine! Once I came to their site, I was hooked. Service is amazing, products from every range of price, and seed beads galore!! Who could want more? Oh, yes, why don't you have a location in, say, Montreal??

What other hobbies do you have?
Photography, until beading took over my every spare moment (and then some not so spare ones too!), is my second love. I see the world through the lens of a camera and love to photograph landscapes. I am privileged to live in a country whose leaves change dramatically every fall and our winterscapes are just spectacular. Much to photo here!

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
My wish is to begin a beading society here in Montreal. While we have every other type of artistic group, we are sadly lacking in beading groups. That may change yet, if I have my way!!

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Beading centers me--it relaxes my mind and fulfills a very large need to create with my hands something of beauty. I suffer from debilitating, chronic lower back pain and beading has allowed me to focus my energies on something positive. It gives me goals to achieve and the pleasure I have in those achievements is immeasurable. I bead at every opportunity and have sold pieces while in line or waiting at the doctor's office!

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
Initially I had no intention of selling my pieces but inventory grew and grew. It demanded to be sold! I attend craft shows, sell on-line, and do private parties and commissions. I don't have enough time to dedicate to on-line selling so it's not very active.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Follow your heart and do your best every moment. I am a high achiever and believe that one can achieve virtually anything if the desire is there. Use the best materials your budget allows because if your time and design aren't worth the best beads, then what is?

View all of Maren's designs in the Gallery of Designs.