Arbel Shemesh

Arbel Shemesh
Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Grants Pass, Oregon

Describe your artistic style.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
Nature, Art Nouveau, beauty, contrasts of the old with the new, the industrial with nature, shapes, motion.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Polymer clay, beads, Accu-Flex® beading wire, leather, feathers, metal.

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

What inspired this design?
Nature, and reading too many science fiction and fantasy books. I wanted to make a mask that created a transformation when worn, for the world to see the person as having much more color and being more exotic than their normal physical appearance. I think when we make choices to adorn ourselves in a way that is eye-catching and out of the normal, we show more of the personal and deeper parts of ourselves, sharing how we see ourselves, that is a beautiful thing.

How did it come together?
The design evolved as I worked on it. There were technical issues to deal with. Once those were solved, I could relax and play.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I always expressed myself through making things. I caught the beading bug when I was 17 years old while visiting a friend who was living with the Bedouins in the Sinai desert.

Who introduced you to beading?
It was the Women in the Tarabin Beduin tribe. I watched them make the fringe that held down their veils, this was not beadwork that they sold, it was for them only. The technique used was crochet, something I knew how to do, so it was an easy transition for me, just add the beads. See design #6B30 for a project tutorial, the veil beads design works well as a necklace design.

Do you have an artistic background?
I have a degree in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
I heard of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads through my beading buddies.

What other hobbies do you have?
Hiking with my dogs and rafting down the river.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
Not presently. In the late 1980's I taught at a bead shop in Oakland, CA named "The Orb Weaver." It was a nice beading community.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry-making occupies most of my waking time. Actually, I am pretty sure it occupies some of my sleep as well. I feel my life is completely enmeshed in this community because I work in the jewelry industry and I am also a customer. Many of us at Fire Mountain Gems and Beads are so passionate about our work because it also impacts us as consumers. Therefore, it has relevance in our personal lives. My work and home life overlap. It is hard to tell sometimes where one begins and one ends. I love this because I don't feel divided, it is just life in a flow.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I do make a side income from my jewelry designs. I sell at fairs and a local artisan market. I do have a website:, but I also refer customers to my work on the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads website.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I donate my jewelry to auctions that raise funds for different causes.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Go with your passion. Some of us have the "making things" gene and you cannot fight it and be a happy human being. Find a way to connect with people that love your work and give you back the energy you put into your work. It is an amazing exchange. I can wholesale my work, but I choose to sell direct to my customers, because I love the process of connecting with them. It is as much fun as making the jewelry.

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

What inspired you to donate your bead(s) to Circle of Hope?

Teresa was a good friend, what a beautiful heart!