Samantha "Sammah" Merrill

Design Idea C72Z Necklace

Zephippos Stallion of the Wind
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2012 featuring Metal

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Level Plains (near Enterprise), Alabama

Describe your artistic style.
Whimsical and fantastic ... often to be described as fairy-tale-ish but with purpose and functionality.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
My main inspirations are color, mythology and fantasy. Every piece has a story. Every story is told in or through the piece, often with details to be determined by the wearer.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Art Clay silver, sterling silver and pure silver wire, gemstones, ivory or bone, sea glass, crystal, and many others.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Zephippos Stallion of the Wind

What inspired this design?
I wanted to connect to artists of the past, making something that reflected both who I am and where the arts have come from. The obvious choice was Grecian and Roman Mythology, in the first rise of the arts as a thing of importance.

How did it come together? For example, did you plan it out or did it define itself once you began working?
Zephippos was sculpted around an armature covered in paper clay, making him a hollow vessel, common to the Greeks in art. I wished to make him look dated in style, and as if he had been broken by time and restored to his old glory by the artist.

The wings were difficult to design, and several trial-and-error sets of wings came and went on their way to the "reject" pile. The wings I decided on finally are carved of ivory, representing the conquering of the Elephant-riding peoples of India.

The feathers are carved carnelian. Carnelian was often favored by the Romans of wealthy background for seals and crests adorning the family rings. The ability to carve the stone, along with its rich rusty color warranted the stone its popularity as a stone for seals. These intaglio (reverse carved) images made seals for documents when pushed into a soft clay or melted wax.

The final piece was suspended from a simple chain, allowing the wings to swivel and the chains of the tail to remain a kinetic, moving element to the piece. Zephippos is a free-standing micro sculpture; a wearable piece of art history.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I started to bead when I was fourteen. I started making components with Art Clay silver at sixteen. I began to push the limits at twenty.

Who introduced you to beading?
My aunt did ... Dr. Laura Potvin.

Do you have an artistic background?
I grew up walking through museums of arts and sciences with my grandparents. My pepere is a mechanical mind and an engineer, and my memere is an artist... I feel as if I received a little of both traits as I spent my summers with them over the years in Boston's many museums and art galleries.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
Through the aunt who introduced me to beading, also a devout customer.

What other hobbies do you have?
Drawing, painting, sculpting, polymer clay, reading and writing.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry making is my emotional release embodied in art form. It keeps me sane. For now, as I am working and a student, I do not have the time to devote to it as a business.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
Find me at, for more Jewelry and Art MADNESS!!

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I often give pieces to my church and to local charities and causes for raffling or to let someone ill know that the community stands behind them in their struggles.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Never lose your passions. Never "out-grow" your inspirations. And always find the beauty in everything ... even if you must be it, like a light in the darkness.