Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Contest 2010
featuring Metal Clay, Metal Beads,
Wirework and Chain
||Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
San Antonio, Texas
Describe your artistic style.
I'm not sure I've found ''my style'' yet. I love to experiment and try things I've been told can't be done.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
My inspiration comes from nature most of the time. I also love creating pieces with simple, sleek lines that have a touch of pizzazz to make them a little more special.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
These days I focus on using metal clays, glass and polymer clay with my creations. Metal clay has gotten into my blood and I just can't get enough. Working with fused glass and polymer clay is a great way to add color.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
What inspired this design?
This piece was made to go with a cocktail dress I was wearing on the Swarovski Crystal Cruise in November. What better design than something that would go with the water, too.
How did it come together?
Since my drawing skills are so poor, I rarely attempt to draw a design. I design in my head, then try to create a piece that looks like my vision. My projects have a mind of their own and rarely come out exactly as planned, but they usually have a resemblance of what I originally wanted. I've learned to let the design flow in the direction the clay wants to go. The Swarovski crystals were used because, of course, I wanted a piece of jewelry with their product included and I love working with the crystals.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I began working with polymer clay in the mid to late 90s and helped form the San Antonio Polymer Clay Guild. I was introduced to silver clay during a demo at one of our meetings in 2000 and immediately fell in love. I had taken a silversmithing class in college and I really wanted to pursue it, but was never able to. With the introduction of silver clay, I felt I had come full circle.
Who introduced you to beading?
I must admit, I do not consider myself a beader. During Jr. High and High School, I did stitched beading on sweaters, collars, and other clothes, but that was it.
With metal clay, my focus is on pendants and the chains are always plain. I was finally convinced that I needed to do a little more to the rest of the necklace to give it the finishing touch. Lisa Pavelka introduced me to the wire mesh knit ''chain'' used on the necklace ''Seaside'' during a Crystal Chix Cruise with Lisa. I, very quickly, got hooked on Swarovski crystals. Using the crystals is pretty much the extent of my beading.
Do you have an artistic background?
My father was a commercial artist, but was not around to teach me. Even now, my drawing skills are less than pleasant, to say the least. I lived with my grandparents in South Carolina for several years as a child. We had no TV and a very poor radio, so creating things was my outlet. My grandfather got me started tinkering with things and I progressed to sewing machines, watches and more. My grandmother got me started with sewing and most types of needlework, which was my main focus in the art world through college at Colorado State University where I majored in Fashion Design. Over the years to follow, my life took a different turn and I started working with other mediums. I think I've tried just about everything at least once, but silver is my love. Bronze clay became available almost 2 years ago and now we also have copper. I love working with all 3 metals separately and combined.
I developed a new title last summer (2009) when I was named Dr. MetalClay for the new magazine Metal Clay Artist Magazine from Canada. I'm also a contributing editor of the magazine and love being able to help with this wonderful publication.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
I've been doing business with Fire Mountain Gems for so long, I really don't know how I discovered it. It was a great place for findings and chains early in my jewelry-making career and now I have added crystals among other items. It's always a treat to go through the catalog to find things I can't live without.
What other hobbies do you have?
I taught swimming with the American Red Cross for over 30 years and I love to swim, but don't get much opportunity to these days. Most of my hobbies have always been in the world of arts and crafts, with sewing and needlework taking a backseat these days. My hobbies have taken on an attempt to make enough money at my craft to keep up with my supply and tool purchases, as well as craft cruises and conventions.
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
I am a member of the following groups: Art Clay Society, PMC Guild, Metal Clay Artists of San Antonio, San Antonio Polymer Clay Guild, San Antonio Bead and Ornament Society.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Obviously, jewelry-making has pretty much taken over my life and I'm loving every minute of it. It's always exhilarating to manage to solve a problem or make an experiment work. I can't do a lot of physical exercise, walking or standing for long periods, so jewelry is my way of being productive. As much as I try to make this a full-time career, I'm still more of a part-time artist. I also love writing magazine articles, learning to photograph my work and teaching others to ''get the bug.'' I'm a Sr. Instructor with Art Clay World as well as being certified with PMC Connection and Guild.
If you use jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
My website is www.cardinalcreations.net and I don't do as well selling myself or my jewelry as I would like. That's a facet I'm still working on. I do attend a few craft fairs, sell jewelry in a few specialty shops, and, of course, enter contests.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I participate in the ''charms for charity'' event that began 2 years ago at the PMC Conference at Purdue and will continue this year. This event began to honor a very dear friend and wonderful metal clay artist who lost her battle with cancer earlier that year. It's so successful, we are continuing it. I volunteer with several groups in San Antonio and donate some of my work for their silent auctions too.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
My advice for aspiring jewelry artists is to do what you love. If you don't have a passion for your art, you will not enjoy it and it will only become a chore. If you don't know where your special interest lies, try them all. If you love art, you will find your passion.