Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2010
featuring Metal Clay, Metal Beads,
Wirework and Chain
Silver Medal Prize Winner
||Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
I live on a cattle ranch in central New Mexico, near a little town called Corona.
Describe your artistic style.
A dash of romance, a sprinkle of fantasy, a touch of Art Nouveau and lots of detailed curvilinear forms.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
Nature and fantasy are primary inspirations, and I'm often looking for ways to incorporate an artistic style reminiscent of the romantic pre-Raphaelite artists into my my jewelry. Also, the paintings of contemporary artist Marcia Myers, whom my husband worked for before her death in 2008, have added to my fascination with the interplay of colors and textures in some of my polymer clay pieces, as well as many of the stone beads I choose to use.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Wire! Whether it's copper, brass, sterling silver or gold-filled, I love to work with wire. I enjoy incorporating all kinds of other materials into my wirework, from ancient Anasazi pottery shards I've found on our ranch, to copper and silver metal clay, stone beads and cabochons, polymer clay, fused glass, and just about anything that has an interesting shape or texture that I think would look good framed or enhanced with wire.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
What inspired this design?
At the time I started this piece it was Mardi Gras and Carnival season. Years ago I attended a conference in New Orleans, and everywhere I looked were demi-masks and pictures of demi-masks, from the simplest black satin domino to sequined and feathered confections. They seemed magical to me. The idea of a fairy masking her identity behind the wings of a butterfly, taking on the ''persona'' of a butterfly in a way other than having butterfly wings herself, intrigued me. I decided the fairy cameo needed the proper frame made of antiqued silver clay in a suitably romantic design inspired by nature. I decided to suspend the cameo from a choker-length framework of wire and ribbons reminiscent of the Gothic and Victorian styles that have long been popular with many fans of fantasy art.
How did it come together?
Some of my designs are free-flowing and develop as I work, but this piece began as an oval-shaped cameo sketch of a fairy wearing a butterfly mask. Then I sketched my idea for the frame, and I wanted to keep the butterfly motif going throughout. The woven framework and bail came last, and both were a bit more free-form and natural because I wanted them to look like intertwining vines.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
In March of 2007 I was looking for some digital art and graphic design classes in the University of New Mexico's continuing education catalog, and I ran across a class describing the fundamentals of wire wrapping. I had always liked the look of wire jewelry, so on a whim I decided to take the class. I spent the first thirty minutes of the first day in the bathroom nursing a wire puncture wound, but it didn't stop me. Maybe it was all those years in the flower shop, where rose thorns and other sharp things were a daily hazard, because I loved making corsages and designing unusual arrangements--the more unusual the better. In any case, after that first day of class I fell in love with the process of turning wire and all kinds of materials into wearable pieces of art.
Who introduced you to beading?
Camille Argeanas, who teaches wire wrapping classes in Albuquerque, New Mexico, introduced me to the idea of combining beads with wire. Before then I only had a passing interest in working with beads; now it's almost all I do!
Do you have an artistic background?
I've always been artistic. When I was a little girl I wrote and illustrated my own stories, and my dream was to become a famous artist. My first art instructor was my ''big brother,'' seventeen years older, who is an amazing graphite artist. I learned calligraphy in high school, and I've enjoyed doing a few things with that over the years--including a stint as a sign painter. My own daughter was in high school when I finally realized the dream of completing the home instruction course offered by Art Instruction Schools of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the famous ''Draw Me'' school. Until 2007 I was primarily focused on 2D art, and I was also a fiction writer of one published novel tired of rejection and looking for a new direction. I definitely found it. You never know, though; the writing might come into play again in the future.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
At one of the first arts and crafts shows where I sold my jewelry, I met another jewelry designer who told me she bought some of her supplies from Fire Mountain Gems. As soon as I got home I went online and looked up the company. Since then I've added Fire Mountain Gems to my list of favored suppliers.
What other hobbies do you have?
I still love to paint and draw, and I incorporate those loves into my jewelry when I can. Before I made jewelry I did quite a bit of embroidery, cross-stitch, and macrame, and those concepts sometimes influence my wire jewelry work. Sometimes I enjoy crocheting with all the colorful and fun textured yarns available now, although I get burned out quickly because my stitch repertoire is so limited and I can't for the life of me decipher crochet patterns. I can make a mean scarf, but that's about it. I enjoy reading and watching movies. I love to travel and visit museums, and I love spending time in the New Mexico mountains amidst the Ponderosa pines.
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
Not yet, but I'm considering joining the New Mexico Bead Society.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
It is quickly becoming a full-time endeavor. I have my business license, and though I'm not yet earning enough income from my jewelry creations to have it fully qualify as a career, I can see it as a possibility in the not-too-distant future.
If you use jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
All of the above. I enjoy entering contests and seeing what other entrants create; there are so many talented and inspirational people out there! Some of the arts and crafts fairs I attend are juried, some are not. I sell my work on Etsy as well as in two local shops and two galleries. I have also started selling at home parties. I have my own website, kellscreations.com, and I am now teaching classes. I also enjoy social networking and marketing via Twitter and my Facebook ''fan'' page.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I have donated some of my jewelry to support causes and events sponsored by Albuquerque Rescue Mission, an organization that provides clothing, shelter, educational training, and job placement opportunities for the homeless of New Mexico.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Everyone has a unique vision, and taste is subjective. Accept criticism when it is merited in order to learn and grow in your technical skills, but ignore it when it seems based solely on personal taste. Not everyone will love your work. In fact, some will be rudely critical, often within earshot, as if you were not the creator of the piece they are criticizing! But just as surely another person will come along and ''ooh'' and ''ahh'' over your creations. Try to listen to the technical criticisms and the artistic compliments in order to figure out what it is about your work specifically that the people who compliment you find appealing. That's how you'll improve your technique and begin to discover your unique style.
View all of Kelley's designs in the Gallery of Designs.