Cynthia Riggs

Falling Leaf
Meet the Designer-Artist


Where do you live?
Pennsylvania.

Describe your artistic style.
Vintage, with a modern twist.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
The beads themselves; and I like nature themes--birds, leaves, dragonflies, etc.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I do most of my work with Vintaj, or Vintaj look-alike components. I've been buying a lot of art beads lately (glass and ceramic).

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

What inspired this design?
I made this for a specific challenge with a fall theme.

How did it come together?
I knew I wanted to use the leaf focal, and built around that.

Share Your Background


When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
Over 15 years ago, I wanted a pair of earrings for Halloween. There was nothing in the stores to buy, so I thought I'd make my own. I went to Michael's and bought some cheap headpins, earwires and orange and black beads. I still have those earrings, and I still wear them once a year, but my style has evolved. I must have made 200 pairs of earrings before I attempted to make a necklace. My early necklaces were just "bumps on a string", if you know what I mean. Then, I started making freshwater pearl and Bali silver bead necklaces. They were starting to look more like my personal style. Around the same time, I bought a Kumihimo disc, and loved making cords. But, I needed pendants with big bails, to fit on the cords. That eventually led me to Vintaj. I could create an artistic bail from bending a piece of filigree, and attach a pendant to that. I was hooked. Now, I make 95% of my jewelry with vintage-finished brass. I love the vintage feel, but usually my designs are asymmetrical, so that gives it an off-beat, updated look. Also, I previously sold antique jewelry, and am a collector of Victorian/Edwardian jewelry, so I came to jewelry-making with that taste. I often incorporate old jewelry parts into my work.

Who introduced you to beading?
I found it myself!

Do you have an artistic background?
I have a BS in Textile Design. I took a lot of art classes in high school and college. I actually signed up for a jewelry-making course in college, but my parents made me drop it--"We're not sending you to college to make jewelry!!" ;-)

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
I don't remember. I probably picked up a catalog at Beadfest years ago...

What other hobbies do you have?
Gardening, Kumihimo (for cords for jewelry), felting.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
No, but I have two girlfriends that I bead with.

Beading Success


What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
I think about it all day, off and on. Of course, I need to concentrate on my job while at work, but often I'll get an idea for a design out of the blue, and will try to jot a note to myself. I am all about the jewelry, 24/7!!

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I sell in two brick and mortar stores. I have a blog, but don't sell online (http://cynthsblog.blogspot.com/). I often enter the monthly Vintaj challenge. I sell from off my neck, when asked. I've done a couple weddings for some daughters of co-workers.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Buy the best materials you can afford. And read other jewelry makers' blogs, to find your own identity.