|Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
Describe your artistic style.
Free hand, open to ideas, love working with rock and designing around the center piece.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
I have a business that I make lamps and bookends out of oil well core rock. One day about 5 years ago one of my customers suggested I make jewelry out of the rock. At first I said no it is too much work for such little profit and I was geared up to do big objects out of my rock. It took about a year before I started to rethink the idea of jewelry and then that is when my creative side took over. I love it and have been learning new techniques as I go through the years. I started with just an approximate 1-inch stone and sand blasted a Chinese character in it and strung it on leather bands. One of my friends (BFF) saw my work and suggested I add beads. We spent nights, many past midnight beading away and chatting about family--It was great inspiration. I continued with my education to learn wire wrapping and silversmithing. It is never ending lol, love it!
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I start with rock that comes from oil wells. This rock comes from 4,000 feet below the earth to as deep as 10,000 feet. It is surprising how beautiful the rock is and it has a story behind it. I would freehand design the stone into shapes then wire wrap and bead with them. The colors are very earth tone which I enjoy the most. I bought many beads from Fire Mountain Gems and would make many designs and combinations with my rock. As I learned to wire wrap I also got involved with our local gem and mineral club--that is when I started to use other stones such as agate, jasper, and jade etc. I love to cut, sand and polish my own stones then create a necklace, bracelet or ring around it with other beads and charms.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
What inspired this design?
I wanted to start using one or more beads in the same piece. Also different metals.
How did it come together?
I started with a piece of Mexican lace agate and then designed around that. I draw the idea first then find the stone--I used the agate that I polished myself then the garnet and the base of the pendant is sterling silver with a gold-filled wire in a backwards L. I added patina to the whole work and loved the colors I got.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
It started about 5 years ago. I have been making bookends, lamps, clocks, and paperweights out of oil well core rock. I even made a conference room table about 6 years ago for a customer with my rock. I had a customer suggest that I make jewelry but I passed thinking it too little and not profitable. About a year later I had some slow time so I start to rethink the idea--so I have been creating jewelry now for about 5 years. I continue to learn new techniques. I took a wire wrap class and silversmith class at the local gem and mineral club to expand my creative side. I started first with the oil well core rock by cutting a small disc and then I sand and polish them and etch a Chinese character on it. From there I started to learn beading from my BFF and we stayed up many late nights beading and designing around my rock. I love the time that I spend designing; I just do not have enough time, hehehe.
Who introduced you to beading?
My best friend Pat.
Do you have an artistic background?
I have an older sister and an older brother that are artists and the only art I took was martial arts. I have practiced Chinese Kung Fu for over 40 years.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
Looking for a good store of beads. I ordered many beads so that I have variety to design. I started with one box then two then three, etc... My BFF Pat and I could open a small bead store with what we have, lol.
What other hobbies do you have?
I practice Chinese Kung Fu and Tai Chi--in fact, I teach them both.
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
No, just local gem and mineral society.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
I love jewelry-making--It is a part of my life now and I am always looking at other people's work wherever I go. I just took a vacation. I think I visited every store that had jewelry or beads and of course I brought some of my pieces to show them. I do the jewelry-making on a part-time basis. But, I wish I had more time to design--I love creating new designs.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
Good questions. I feel that is my downfall, marketing. First, I started too big. I went to Atlanta Market to show my jewelry--I had just started to learn jewelry. I was going to take the world by storm, $4,000 later I decided to start smaller. I went to gun and knife shows and sold there and then I also did some Christmas shows and have sold. I have an Etsy website, but have not been successful, and I have put my jewelry on my rock website. I make lamps, bookends and paperweights, etc., but that is not successful. I do have two wholesale customers, but it is like working for nothing when I sell to them. Lately, Just word of mouth. I sell from time to time. Like this past vacation I showed my work in a store and sold 3 pieces.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I have not tried that.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Keep educating yourself always looking for new designs and ideas.