Jeni Smathers

Jeni Smathers

Pasque Flower Necklace
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Contest 2010 featuring Seed Beads

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
I am currently stationed with my husband in Aviano, Italy.

Describe your artistic style.
Whimsical, in that there are so many techniques that interest me I tend to jump from one thing to another as my mood dictates.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
I can be inspired by anything, nature, an attractive color combination I see in a shop, art, architecture, other bead artists, even the tie the news anchor on TV is wearing. I'm forever sketching ideas and thinking ''How can I make that with beads?''

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
My biggest weakness is artisan lampwork beads and dichroic glass, but I tend to hoard them. I usually work with a variety of glass beads, from crystals to Czech glass to seed beads plus gemstones and pearls. Generally if it has a hole through it I will string or weave it. I've also been learning a bit of wire working, but I'm still very much a novice.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Pasque Flower Necklace

What inspired this design?
I saw a picture of a pasque flower in a restaurant here in Italy but didn't know what it was. I researched it and loved the look of it. I love that the Murano glass focal and the real flower are both native to my host country.

How did it come together?
I had purchased the Murano flower bead and wore it on a piece of ribbon for at least a year before seeing the picture of a pasque flower. At that point I knew exactly what to do with it, and the design came together easily from there. I didn't really plan it, just picked out a variety of beads and started working. Now if only every design would work that way!

Share Your Background:

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I began beading in 1997 when a co-worker taught me basic loom weaving.

Who introduced you to beading?
A co-worker who saw me doing cross-stitch on my lunch break. She said I'd love beading if I enjoyed embroidery and she was right.

Do you have an artistic background?
My mother studied art in college and taught me all kinds of crafts, from sewing to painting. She also showed me that many things are just as easy to make as to purchase, and that you can sell your work if you're determined enough.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
From magazine ads. Right after I started beading, we moved to Spain and bead shops were non-existent. Fire Mountain Gems was my beading lifeline, and still is today for many things.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
I'm a member of the Beading Daily forums where we do many different bead and finished piece swaps. I also belong to the Artfire Jewelry Design and Jewelry Supply Studios Guild (AJDJSS), the Self Representing Artists in Jewelry Design (SRAJD), and the ArtFire Beadweaver's Guild.

What other hobbies do you have?
I love traveling and trying new food, wines and beer wherever we go, especially since we are privileged to be stationed overseas. I also enjoy reading, and music.

Beading Success!

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
If you asked my hubby, he would say I'm obsessed! Some part of everyday involves beads, whether it's reading about beading, shopping for them, making something or selling my work. I would call beading a part-time career at the moment.

If you use jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
Currently I sell my work both in my online shop ( and in person at bazaars, craft shows and word of mouth. I also enter contests and participate in various challenges, which I find really helpful in pushing my creativity to new levels.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I have donated pieces to raise money for a variety of causes, including Bead Artists Against Breast Cancer, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Domestic Violence prevention, and to auctions supporting people who need extra medical care and can't afford it.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Perfect your technique before trying to sell things would be my #1 piece of advice. I beaded for years before I ever thought of entering a contest or trying to sell something. Make sure you're using the best materials you can afford--your pieces will last longer and look nicer. Don't forget to have FUN!

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