Helen Noe

Helen Noe

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2010 featuring Crystal

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
I live in Hollister, a small farming community in California.

Describe your artistic style.
I would have to describe my artistic style as eclectic, as I've never met a bead I didn't like or a technique I didn't enjoy. However, I do have a preference for small beads and intricate designs.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
I'm often inspired by the beads themselves. I love to look at all the myriad shapes, textures and colors; touch them and listen to what they say to me. For color inspiration, I look to flower arrangements, colors in my garden and fabrics. I find home decorating magazines to be a good source of ideas for color combinations. What works in decorating is often successful in a piece of jewelry.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I love the unique quality of Delica®s and their rich, vibrant colors. All seed beads hold a fascination for me, and I'm excited by their possibilities. No other type of bead can be used in so many applications and techniques. I'm also enchanted by crystals and the sparkle and shine they bring to beadwork.

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

What inspired this design?
The beautiful ceramic face by Diane Brieglieb was my main inspiration for "Sacajawea." The heroic story of Sacajawea and her invaluable guidance to explorers Lewis and Clark made her an inspirational figure who I wanted to honor.

How did it come together?
I had a plan in mind when I began working. I wanted her to have a headdress to suggest nobility. I wanted an element to echo the wing flowing down the side of her face, thus the feather-shaped dangles. I knew I needed to balance the wing with something on the other side of her face, so I added the twisted fringe. The color palette, however, was a different story. I had a completely different palette in mind, but, somehow, the piece insisted on the colors that you see now. I'm not sure how it happened, but I was pleased with the result.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I began beading about seven years ago when a friend gave me a beautiful beaded chatelaine that she had made. I decided that I'd like to make a peyote needle case to attach to it. Another friend took me under her wing and taught me how to do peyote. I was hooked and forever grateful to her for her instruction.

Who introduced you to beading?
My two friends who got me started beading are Alisa Miller and Dar Brenneise. Since then, I have taken several classes in beading shops and am a devoted subscriber to a few beading magazines.

Do you have an artistic background?
Although I have never considered myself "artistic," I've had many hobbies over the years, including tole, oil, watercolor painting, sewing, flower arranging, home decorating, just about anything creative. After I retired from teaching, I stumbled upon beading and have been happily beading ever since.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
A friend gave me a Fire Mountain catalog. I had never seen anything like it. I live in a small town where the closest bead shop is over forty miles away and often doesn't have what I need. I depend on Fire Mountain for my beading supplies and love the quantity discounts!

What other hobbies do you have?
I enjoy traveling with my husband and two cocker spaniels in our RV. We have traveled all over the United States and into Canada, relishing the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this magnificent continent. But I never forget to pack several beading projects to work on in the evenings. And my long-suffering husband accompanies me on visits to beading shops in new towns, helping me to increase my stash and "support my habit."

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
I don't belong to any formal beading groups but bead weekly with a small group of friends.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Making beautiful jewelry is a satisfying outlet for my creativity and an important part of my daily life. A couple of years ago, when my husband was recovering from heart surgery, I cancelled every outside activity in my life to care for him as he recuperated. While he rested and slept, I would work on my beadwork, which helped restore me and allowed me to escape for a while from the frightening possibilities. His return to good health and some lovely beaded pieces are my precious rewards.

Beading is mostly a hobby for me, but I have sold a number of pieces. I often give gifts of jewelry to my family and friends, who all seem pleased to receive them.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
Although I don't depend on income from my beadwork, I like having an opportunity to sell pieces to help "support my habit." I have held a couple of boutiques and invited friends and neighbors via postcards. I made them friendly, low-key events by serving refreshments and chit-chat. I would never want my friends to feel pressured into buying my jewelry.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I have never participated in any charity fundraisers by donating my work for sale, but I would welcome the opportunity to do so. In fact, I think that is a great idea and will seek out fundraisers for my favorite causes.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
My advice for aspiring jewelry-artists is to learn all you can, whenever you can. Take classes, read books and magazines, study jewelry in catalogs. Even work that is presently too difficult will someday be possible.