Janet West

Janet West

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Contest 2010 featuring Seed Beads


Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
I live in Northern Virginia, although I'm originally from California.

Describe your artistic style.
I prefer classical, timeless designs. I like to combine unusual color combinations, with the intent to create an element of surprise and delight.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
The color combinations found in nature are wonderful; the rhythm and harmonics found in plant life and seashells are full of potential for designs!

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Gemstones! Especially labradorite, tigereye, fluorite and turquoise. However, I'm just beginning to work with seed beads, and I'm really enjoying experimenting with the possibilities!

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Whole-Hearted Love

What inspired this design?
I was thinking of a design for Valentine's Day; rose quartz became the centerpiece of the design, since it is considered to be the stone of love and healing. I notice the rose quartz fan in the catalog, and I designed around that, the rose quartz cabochon and hearts. It was created around the ideas of "Whole-ness" (as well as "whole-heartedly"), "Love" and "Healing" (as in healing a broken heart). Also, I heard somewhere that the combination of teal / aqua and pink / fuchsia represented "welcome" or "homecoming"--that seemed to fit with the idea of Love, so that is why I included those elements as well.

How did it come together? For example, did you plan it out or did it define itself once you began working?
I had a basic plan of where I placed all of the cabochons. For example, there are six round cabochons which outline two intersecting equilateral triangles (kind of like the Seal of Solomon). These represent the connection of the male and female elements joined in Love. I also had a general idea about the placement of the various heart motifs; but at a certain point, it took on a life of its own! It was a great deal of work, but it was also fun!

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I began in 2007; I've been a rock hound since childhood, and have also enjoyed detailed work such as embroidery, so combining the two seemed to be a natural match! I was suddenly inspired to begin studying how to make jewelry, when I was looking through a book of Ancient Egyptian treasures, and was amazed at the beautiful and ornate necklaces that they created thousands of years ago. I was moved to begin learning the craftsmanship, so that I might be able to bring beautiful works to others. I was so enraptured with it, that I began my own business.

Who introduced you to beading?
Well, I looked at a number of websites, and various tutorials, and really just got introduced in that way to some of the basics.

Do you have an artistic background?
Yes, I'm very creative, and have been since childhood. I also crochet, knit and embroider; I took a Wood Shop class way back in high school (I was the only girl), and it really helped to train me to take something from a drawing to the finished product.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
I kept seeing ads for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads in various magazines, and the amount of beading material available; I checked out the website, and I was hooked!

What other hobbies do you have?
I play the violin (classical music only); I'm an amateur photographer and I enjoy reading (especially biographies and history).

Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
Not yet; I still have a day job, and am pretty busy with my business at this point.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry-making is really vital for me--to be able to create something lasting and beautiful is a real joy! If I'm unable to design or make jewelry for a few days, I start to get antsy. I have my own home-based jewelry-making business, but it is still part-time at this point.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I have a website, and am also active on a couple of other "have your own shop" websites (Etsy and ArtFire). I also go to seminars sponsored by various small business associations and network there; I've sold jewelry through small shows in people's homes. I plan to start showing at craft fairs in the near future.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
Yes, I've made bracelet designs representing different cancers, and to increase the awareness of cancer prevention. A percentage of the proceeds goes to charity. I also have designed bracelets to honor those in the armed forces.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Yes--buy the best quality gemstones and tools that you can afford! Quality tools make such a difference, especially if you're serious about making quality jewelry. And, make what you love--find what you're passionate about, and GO FOR IT!

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