Fire Mountain Gems and Beads'
Jewelry-Making Contest 2010
Bronze Medal Prize Winner
Category: Bib and Collar Style Necklace
||Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
I live in beautiful California, San Francisco Bay Area.
Describe your artistic style.
My style is a combination of tradition, due to my Russian background, and fantasy, coming from my traveling and everyday experiences. I was born and grew up in Russia, a country with a long history of beading and jewelry making, so my work is strongly influenced by the traditional embellishment and use of semi-precious stones and glass beads. Another factor, fantasy, comes from my natural curiosity and desire to explore the world around me, the wonderful world full of beauty and surprises.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
Traveling is my passion. I have to admit that I've been lucky enough to be able to explore, live, and study in different countries before settling down in the US 5 years ago. I think inspiration comes from anything you can experience, whether it is the past or the future. I get inspired when some beautiful memories of places I've been to or people I've met pass through my mind, or when something seems out of reach, when I challenge myself to reach it, and the challenge itself inspires me. For me, inspiration comes in many shapes and forms; it can be a lava cave of magical Jeju Island in South Korea, the Gaudi architecture in Barcelona, Spain, beautiful sandy beaches and cloudy mountains in California, and even the stones I use for my creations themselves.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I confess, I am obsessed with gemstones. There is something inexplicably magical and mysterious about natural semi-precious stones; each of them is unique and different in texture, weight, shape, color tone, and pattern. Every time I pick a stone/cabochon for my new creation, I wonder how old it is and what in the world (or in the Earth) could possibly make this particular color combination. I always start to build my jewelry design around a gemstone, a focal point. I use seed beads to complement the focal piece. Seed beads (Czech and Japanese) are another of my favorite materials to work with. Due to their small size and different color tones, I am able to create dramatic depth and particular mood in each and every piece I make.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Earth Treasures Necklace
What inspired this design?
I think, the stones themselves inspired this particular design. I had a box of tiger eye and black onyx cabochons. I didn't have to think too much about what color I should incorporate into the design. My house is surrounded by green hills, so green was the answer, and it made a great match with the blacks and browns of the stones.
How did it come together?
I did plan the design out. I really appreciate symmetry and, in order to achieve it, I used lined paper. I played with stones trying to figure out the right position, and then drew a pattern on a piece of paper. After that, I transferred the result on a piece of leather and started to work with the actual necklace. I think, planning design out is really helpful. For me, it lessens the amount of time I put into each piece; it also helps me to visualize the final result and avoid some mistakes in a process.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I started making jewelry 2 years ago just as a hobby. A friend of mine gave me a Fire Mountain Gems catalog and asked me to order some beads for him. Once I opened the catalog, I felt in love... with beads and stones, of course. I ended up ordering a huge box of supplies for myself, and I was very positive about what I was going to do with all that stuff. ''That stuff'' resulted in a collection of beautiful jewelry. Since I started, I have never stopped, and I feel that I will never stop because there is no limit to creativity in jewelry making.
Who introduced you to beading?
I am a 100% self taught jewelry maker. There are so many interesting and helpful materials with instructions all over the internet, in local libraries, and book stores that it wasn't really difficult for me to learn on my own.
Do you have an artistic background?
I started studying architecture and interior design in the Fine Art Schools of Almeria in Barcelona, Spain. Four years ago, I moved to the US, and about a year ago, I got my AS in Architecture, AA in Art, and AA in Spanish here; currently, I am working toward my Master of Fine Arts degree.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
Two years ago, a friend of mine showed me a catalog, and since then I've been a regular customer of Fire Mountain Gems. I truly believe that this company is the best in terms of assortment and affordability for art and jewelry supplies.
What other hobbies do you have?
Besides traveling and cooking, most of my hobbies are art related. Art is my life and my passion. I am a painter, sculptor, drafter, quilter, art books collector, avid knitter and a self-proclaimed fashionista. I enjoy learning new techniques and combining different art techniques and materials.
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
There are so many beading groups in San Francisco Bay Area. Unfortunately, I don't belong to any of them at this time due to my busy schedule, but I am definitely interested in sharing my skills and ideas with others.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
For me, jewelry-making is a hobby gradually transforming into a part-time career. I admit, I am still in a learning process, but I already can see people's reaction to my creations. I've received so much positive feedback so far that it inspired me to create a website, which is for those who are interested in purchasing some of my pieces and for those beginning and maturing artists who need a little bit of inspiration for their work.
If you use jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
www.artbyalfiya.com and www.alfiyasboutique.com
I created these two websites to inspire other artists and as a possible source of income. Honestly, building a website was the first idea about self-promotion that came to my mind. I still need to research and explore craft fairs and contests since I have a very little idea about how these events work.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I definitely support charity fundraisers. 10% of my profit goes to the Humane Society of the United States, and 5% goes to the World Vision Organization. I believe, it is our obligation to help those less fortunate; that is what defines us as human beings. Producing arts and crafts is not only a great way to give back but to create peace in the world, as well.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
If you want to become a jewelry artist, don't postpone. Learn new techniques, find your material, and go for it. Don't worry about inspiration; take a look around--inspiration is everywhere! Jewelry-making is joyful, satisfying, and extremely rewarding. This kind of art has been existing for an indefinite amount of time. Why? Because everybody loves jewelry. So, just go for it--make something original, unique, and beautiful.