Michael Thornton

Michael Thornton

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2010 featuring Metal Clay, Metal Beads, Wirework and Chain


Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Katy, Texas.

Describe your artistic style.
Simply elegant, achieving a beautiful piece of jewelry by keeping it very simple, with clean lines, and a minimum of materials in the piece itself. Making it by hand, I believe, ensures that the piece will be one of a kind.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
Nature and classical music inspire me to design and create my jewelry.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I love using gemstones and pearls, capturing their beauty with a selection of wires: gold, silver, copper, aluminum and stainless steel.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Rhomboids and Pearls Necklace

What inspired this design?
The peaceful simplicity of a waterfall, the colors and the sounds I observe when perched on a rock near the falls.

How did it come together? For example, did you plan it out or did it define itself once you began working?
I use a waterfall in some of my paintings and have always loved the play of light on the water and the foam from the water hitting the rocks at the bottom of the fall. I drew the design about six times before I was able to capture the movement of the water and the foam in my favorite materials: gold wire and pearls.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I began to make jewelry as a hobby about four years ago, just after I suffered a heart attack. I found myself at home able only to lift small items and staying off my feet. I cruised the internet looking for something to keep me occupied and accidentally came upon a chain mail site. I have always loved working with my hands and it took only a minimum amount of tools to get started. I liked the idea of changing a piece of metal into a soft piece of wearable jewelry.

Who introduced you to beading?
Kim Wassgren, a neighbor, was at the same craft show I was attending as a wood crafting vendor. She was selling jewelry she had made by hand. When she closed down at the end of the day, she was able to pack everything into her small car, where as I had to load all my items into a truck just to get them home. She was creating some beautiful items on the spot with just a few tools, quite a bit of difference from the dusty garage in which I was confined. I liked the idea of creating something beautiful as I watch television in air conditioned comfort, no dust, nosy neighbors or sales persons disturbing my tranquility.

Do you have an artistic background?
I have always been able to create art works in wood; I have been a master sawyer for years. When I was in college, my minor was in fine arts where I learned a little about metallurgy and jewelry crafting. I did not make use of this knowledge until thirty years later, but it came in handy when I began making the jewelry I now produce.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
I found Fire Mountain's website when I was making a sweep of the sites that sold wire, beads and gemstones at fair prices. They sent me a catalog with beautiful items at prices I could afford, and made it easy to order by phone or computer.

What other hobbies do you have?
I enjoy painting, gardening, wood working, fishing and fly fishing (I was a fly casting instructor for over eight years).

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
I am a member of the International Guild of Wire Jewelry Artists, a sponsor for Self-Representing Jewelry Designers (SRAJD), and a member of M.A.I.L. (Maille Artisans International League)

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Last year I had to return to the hospital and had triple bypass surgery. Since I had to slow down again, I took up my former "hobby" of jewelry crafting and decided to make a business of it to supplement the income from my full time job.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I created and maintain my own website www.shainsart.com and an ESTY site www.skezzcrom.etsy.com and have an additional store site at www.handmadeartistsshop.com/skezzcrom.html. I also attend many craft shows as a vendor and occasionally enter contests.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I form teams to raise money for the Heart Association through their walk programs (I have walked in several walks). I designed a pin for Breast Cancer Awareness which I donate to ladies from my school who suffer from Cancer of any form.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Use the best tools and equipment you can afford, don't be afraid to try a new technique, be inspired by everything around you, particularly nature, and last but not least, keep it simple yet elegant.