Cath Thomas

2007 Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Jewelry-Making Contest

Grand Prize Gold Medal Winner
2006 Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Jewelry-Making Contest

Introduce Yourself:
I am a Dutch beadwork hobbyist living in Switzerland and prefer seed bead off-loom weaving, but I also appreciate other techniques (stringing, wirework, etc). Classic and modern, small- to medium-size necklaces with matching ring and earrings using pearls, seed beads, gemstones, cabochons and glass is what I prefer to make.

Berthy Bijlard, one of my mother's best Dutch friends, taught her (and me) how to bead and cross stitch. I was about 14 when I proudly succeeded in making French earwires using Berthy's pliers. But I then preferred cross stitching. For me, cross-stitching is like painting with big pixels. This is also true for beading, but in 3D!

Curiously, I only started beading in 2005, after having seen the beautiful pictures of the Bead Dreams contest in the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Gallery of Designs. The beaded masterpieces impressed me so much that I started designing my own beaded "dream necklace" with a very simple freeware. At that time I had no money or credit card, but I somehow couldn't resist designing my dream necklace, which "virtually" took shape.

Then one day I managed to place my first order. I couldn't remember anything from Berthy's instructions except for the earwires, so I really re-discovered beading, in particular, bead-weaving techniques, which naturally guide my creativity and challenge me. Looking at pictures, I tried a lot by myself--especially for the necklace pictured here, but also learned a lot thanks to other beaders who generously gave information and hints on their websites and blogs.

Jewelry-Making Success:
I am tremendously honored and proud to be a gold and bronze medalist with some of my jewelry. It is impossible to express the happiness I felt when I received the information. I must say that beading really helped me when I had to face breast cancer: all those beads, needles, tools and other material I could order thanks to the gift certificates I won saved my life!

"Atoll" remains my favorite piece. It was inspired by Yann Arthus Bertrand's pictures from the sky, particularly the one called, "The Eye of the Maldives," atoll of North Mali, Maldives. Even though I find inspiration anywhere, Mother Nature is by far the best muse. I have organized the creation of a beaded tree together with many other beaders in Europe, and the tree has been donated to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Details, participants and pictures of the project can be found at

I consider beading as a Zen activity because I discovered that I have to "listen" and "let things happen." Like the Japanese say, "something" or "it" does the beading, my fingers are only "its" medium. When this happens, it seems like what my hands are making has been decided long before I even thought of it; a wonderful experience. For me, satisfaction inheres in the creation process.

Cath has multiple winning pieces over the years in the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' beading contests. View her award-winning designs in the Gallery of Designs, as well as a necklace project she submitted to share with the jewelry-making community.