Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' 2010 Jewelry-Making Contest
Metal Clay, Metal Beads, Wirework and Chain Category
Silver Medal Prize Winner
Where do you live?
Twin Mermaids Studio, Algonquin, Illinois
Describe your artistic style.
I think my signature would be highly textural, multi-layered pieces combining organic and industrial elements. Recently, I have been experimenting with larger sculptural, organic abstractions.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
My work is largely inspired by the nature and wildlife that surrounds my riverfront home and studio, and the juxtaposition of the natural world as it relates to the modern industrial world. As a dedicated human and animal rights activist, my work also explores themes of humanity, equality and responsibility to the world community.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I am completely obsessed with metal clay! I also love to incorporate rustic wire-work, unusual objects and interesting beads.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
What inspired this design?
My inspiration for the Firepod set evolved when sketching various settings for the unusual bottom drilled red agate teardrops (from Fire Mountain Gems, of course!). What started out as sort of an open sheath became a series of otherworldly pods, finally culminating into the design you see as the finished piece.
How did it come together?
I always start with a sketch, usually a series of sketches. From there, I will create some flat templates from heavy cardstock. For the Firepod set, the clay did dictate certain aspects of the final design. The face was shaped and dried on a frame I created from paper clay and a wood dowel, and the ''seeds'' I incorporated into the design allowed me to play with dimension in a new way.
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I've been creating art since I was old enough to hold a crayon. Several years ago, I was working primarily in mixed media collage and assemblage, and began incorporating dangling components such as chandelier crystals and tiny wired bottles and found objects. From there I did a series of eclectically beaded lampshades, which naturally progressed into beaded jewelry. Sculpture was one of my first loves artistically, and the moment I first dug my fingers into metal clay, I was hooked! I've experimented with many creative media, and metal clay is by far the most versatile and satisfying.
Who introduced you to beading?
While I had always admired the beaded creations of friends, my entry into the wonderful world of jewelry really came from admiring lovely beads and other tiny objects, and the desire to incorporate them into my art.
Do you have an artistic background?
As I mentioned above, I've always had a passion for art. I have always pursued creative endeavors and worked in both graphic and interior design. I formed Twin Mermaids Studio in 2000, and officially ''quit my day job'' in 2007, focusing on art jewelry and fine art.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
When I was still in interior design, a colleague of mine was creating beautiful beaded jewelry. I was looking for beads to incorporate into my mixed media work, and she recommended Fire Mountain Gems.
What other hobbies do you have?
My home and studio, Twin Mermaids Studio, is on the Fox River in Northern Illinois. As a bona fide ''River Rat,'' boating is a big part of my life in the warmer months. I also love to cook, spoil my two dogs rotten, create gift baskets, and I find cleaning oddly enjoyable!
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
I am a full-time working artist. Creating art and art jewelry is my career, my hobby and my emotional rescue!
If you use jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I have a website, http://www.twinmermaidsstudio.com, and Etsy shop, http://www.etsy.com/shop/TwinMermaidsStudio and am in the process of courting new retailers and galleries (I've had works in shops and galleries in the past). I've done several shows, and plan to do even more shows this year, and am adding shops on Artfire and Ebay. I rely on the internet, email and social media for the majority of my advertising, but also send out postcards and throw private shows and parties. The majority of my current business is word of mouth by loyal customers.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
Most recently, I created a limited edition pendant, PURE HEART, to benefit UNICEF for Haiti relief. I have also donated works in several charitable raffles and silent auctions.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
My mantra is the John Burroughs quote, ''LEAP ... and the net will appear.'' Fear is the enemy of creativity, and risk is essential. It is only when you let go of all of your preconceived notions about what is ''good'' that you can truly create something original. So silencing your inner critic should be your #1 priority. JUST DO IT!!!!
View all of Tiffany's designs in the Gallery of Designs.