Sheila Schwede

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2017 featuring Metal
Grand Prize Gold Medal Winner
Category: Necklace

Design Idea C746 Necklace

Chain of Shells
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2012 featuring Metal
Grand Prize Gold Medal Winner
Category: Necklace: Metal Clay

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
On a houseboat on San Diego Bay, in sunny San Diego, California.

Describe your artistic style.
Organic. Most of my designs are fairly large, I believe jewelry should make a statement!

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
The ocean, beach, sea life. We have a sea lion that has taken up residence on the dock beside our houseboat, as well as jellyfish floating by, pelicans and blue herons. I'm surrounded by sea life and take many of my designs from them.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Silver, Gold and Bronze Metal Clay, pearls, titanium and precious gems.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
After our son left for college, my husband, Todd, suggested I needed a hobby. I started with beading, wire work, metal fabrication and on to Metal Clay.

Who introduced you to beading?
My sister, Cindy, suggested that we take a class together, I owe her a thank you as her suggestion led to finding my way to Metal Clay.

Do you have an artistic background?
Not really. I have always loved creating things from knitting to wire work to jewelry.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
A friend knew I was creating jewelry and gave me my first Fire Mountain catalog a few years ago.

What other hobbies do you have?
Creating and designing jewelry is time consuming and is generally what I do whenever time allows.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
I belong to local guilds for PMC® and Art Clay®, as well as the national Art Clay guild. I am also a juried artist at Spanish Village Art Colony, in Balboa Park, San Diego.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
So far creating and designing jewelry is part-time, I have a full-time job with my husband, who is a marine investigator, but creating jewelry allows me to relax and lose myself for hours of 'clay time'.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
Art shows have been a wonderful selling opportunity for my designs, choosing the right venue is extremely important as there is a major difference from Art shows to Craft shows to Street fairs, I learned this the hard way. Making sure the venue is a fit makes the difference between a successful weekend and a disappointing one.

I have entered several contests from Metal Clay. Today they have interesting challenges, as well as I enter several pieces in the San Diego County Fair Jewelry and Gem division every year. Its fun to see my creations on display and the competition keeps me interested and focused.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
Yes, I have donated to Make a Wish Foundation® in the past, as well as the La Jolla Art and Wine Festival, which supports local schools in La Jolla.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Find a class and take every class you can afford, from basic beading, wire working, resin, enamel, metal fabrication, metal clay ... try them all, find your passion and continue taking classes. No matter how elementary it may sound and how certain you are that you 'know how to do that' take the class, I have never failed to learn something from every class I have taken, every instructor brings something different to a process and through all this experimentation, you will stumble on something you had never even considered before and you're off ...

View all of Sheila's designs in the Gallery of Designs.