Linda Mincey

Linda Mincey, a Fire Mountain Gems and Beads employee since 2003, is a self-taught multi-media artist that specializes in Native American miniature reproductions. Recently she had the opportunity to use this exacting attention to detail to plan and coordinate multiple weddings for friends and family.

Linda draws inspiration for her comforting, down-to-earth style from her first encounter with Native American art in a museum in Klamath Falls, Oregon that was full of authentic Native American artifacts as well as western-inspired arts and crafts for sale. She recalled looking at the artifacts with a special kind of awe and felt a deep connection. She also remembered looking at the crafts for sale and thinking, ''Hey, I can do this! But, I can make it better.'' While there was a definite beauty in the crafts represented in the museum, especially the dolls, Linda looked at them and felt that a certain depth and sense of reality were missing. Each of the dainty dolls had a personality forged from ceramic and paint, but Linda wanted a three-dimensional realism that wasn't there.

Linda has an innate ability to visually assess and reverse-invent something to discover the secrets of its creation, and then make it her own. This is why she started making everything as real as possible instead of painting it. Each handsome Indian warrior and Indian princess doll she makes has a genuine leather garment and myriad beads that make up intricate breastplates, headpieces and possessions. Linda even uses tiny quills and feathers to add to the overall effect.

Linda isn't afraid to try anything and her successful trial-and-error approach to art has led her to make many new discoveries and create new methods that can't be learned from a book. So when her job with the local school district became unstable, she sought a career change and came to the family of employees at Fire Mountain Gems and Beads. Linda loves her job and frequently buys beads and supplies for her continuing quest to make realistic dolls.

When Linda's daughter was recently married, she used the opportunity to jump head first into every aspect of planning and creating the event, from the decor to the dress. Her daughter, Christy, wanted a beaded gown with ruby red accents. After searching, they found a dress that Linda felt she could rework with garnet crystal bicone beads. The dress came to life after she spent hours hand-sewing each individual bead in a sprawling floral pattern to the front and back of the dress.

Linda also hand-beaded a bouquet with strands of pearls and sparkling beads nestled among rich red flowers. When asked what advice she would give to other artists, she said, ''I would recommend using SoNo Beading Thread because it will fray less and doesn't need conditioning. Crystal beads tend to cut regular thread easily because the edges are sharp. Using any kind of sewing knot is okay, but protect your investment in expensive beads by knotting the thread a few extra times to ensure security. You don't want the knots to come undone.'' The dress, paired with a cameo necklace made by a family friend and the matching beaded bouquet, gave Christy her own personalized style for her special day.