JoAnne St. James

JoAnne St. James

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads 2009 Beading Contest


Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Unionville, Connecticut

Describe your artistic style.
I find myself always gravitating to art, fashion, beads, and jewelry that incorporate interesting color combinations, textures, various metals and paints using natural forms. If someone were to describe me the first thing they would say is that I am all about color, so it comes as no surprise that my style is bold, organic and a little artsy but my work can also have an elegant flair. I seem to move in and out of style/design phases. For example, I will focus on gemstone necklace designs with certain color or texture themes and then quickly switch gears creating polymer clay beads for a while. I don't know what triggers these phases but I am grateful as it keeps me fresh with new ideas flowing all the time. Right now I seem to be in an "orange phase" creating both gemstone and polymer clay pieces that embed variants of this color.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I must admit that the polymer clay medium allows me the most freedom to design what I want. However, mixing gemstones with polymer clay beads provide the ultimate satisfaction in a completed piece.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Indian Summer

What inspired this design?
I am most proud of the necklace I recently submitted for the Fire Mountain Gems 2009 beading contest titled "Indian Summer." To me this piece best represents my style. I was asked what inspired me to design this piece and I wished I had a wonderful Zen moment where this design just popped into my head but honestly it was simple a case of having too many beads in one color and trying to decide how best to use up my inventory. So, as I always do, I made (what I call) bead soup. I just stacked a pile of materials that complimented each other and when I put the coral buds, turquoise and red agate rondelles together, the design emerged and I knew it was the right combination of colors and textures for this piece.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I am a self-taught beader. After watching a beading episode on the Carol Duvall show about 4 years ago, I decided that I should try this craft. I found myself at the local craft store, grabbed a few beads, wire, and tools and just like that I had created my first piece of jewelry and was hooked! Yes, I made a lot of mistakes along the way and learned how to do things differently the next time around so each piece got better. I thought of this as a "discovery journey." I enlarged my crafting library and bought a ton of beading books and magazines to educate myself as well as get inspiration for new designs. That is where I discovered Fire Mountain Gems. I spent hours looking at the tutorials, designs, and hints on Fire Mountain Gems's web site. I really liked the video tutorials as I am a visual person and learn best that way. I also watched Beads Baubles and Jewels (so glad Fire Mountain Gems has show segments to review) DIY--jewelry-making and, of course, I followed Carol Duvall while her programs were still on TV and absorbed as much knowledge as I could.

Do you have an artistic background?
Art has always been an outlet for my creativity and a focus for my formal education. Interior design, paper crafts, oil and acrylic painting, sculpture and clay, you name it, I've done it. So moving into jewelry design was simply the next step in my artistic evolution!

What other hobbies do you have?
I fancy myself as a good cook and I enjoy creating meals. I love music of all kinds and enjoy shopping.

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
I am a member of International Polymer Clay Association.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
My husband would say that I am now married to "jewelry design" devoting every waking moment to the craft. I must admit that it's not far from the truth! But seriously, I now have a lucrative jewelry side business and sell my wearable art locally. I have a web site which I developed in order to have an "on-line brochure" I taught jewelry design and polymer clay beading just for the love of the craft. In addition I have donated pieces to various charity raising events of which the most recent one was an auction in Hartford, Connecticut area to benefit AIDS.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
For those aspiring jewelry artists out there, just go for it with all the passion you have. There are no mistakes in jewelry-making, just new experiences and potential discoveries of new and improved techniques and designs. And, if you decide to sell your jewelry, remember that if you love it there are others who will love it as well and there is no better satisfaction than to see someone who embraces your art!