Patti West

Patti West

Meet the Designer-Artist

Company Name: Patrician Art

Where do you live?
Chesterfield, MI (in my new house that I bought)

Describe your artistic style.
Organic, free-flowing, edgy

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
Color, texture, shape of materials, water and people I meet

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Natural stones and copper

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Jade Owl

What inspired this design?
I made this piece in May 2008. I was feeling really whimsical that night and knew it was the right time to create it. I have always loved owls.

How did it come together? For example, did you plan it out or did it define itself once you began working?
I had an idea of the finished piece in my head and knew that I wanted to mix the metals. I started from the bottom and worked up choosing the metals as I went. I chose to use the African jade at the very end. So, it definitely defined itself as I worked.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I began making jewelry to become independent and self-supporting.

Who introduced you to beading?
I picked it up on my own. I dabbled in beading as a child.

Do you have an artistic background?
Yes. I also paint, sculpt and draw. I went to art school. My grandmother was a painter and my father was a draftsman.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads?
I will never forget that--I met a woman who was sewing beautiful designs and asked her where she got her beads--the rest is history.

What other hobbies do you have?
Floral arranging, gardening, hiking and swimming

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Jewelry-making saved my life. Sounds dramatic, but it's true. I owe everything I am to it. I was lost and jewelry-making completed me and changed my life. It's my full-time career. Seven years ago I was put into rehab to recover from a drinking problem I'd developed. I had been living with a man who supported me financially and I was very unhappy. I wanted something for myself--something to get up for in the morning. At that point, my whole world revolved around him and being a "house wife."

While I was in rehab we had an arts and crafts class that renewed my desire to create. I was very inspired and something inside of me clicked. It was the first time in a long time that I felt hope for my future.

I decided to start my own business as a jewelry designer. It was really hard at first. I moved into my mom's basement and borrowed $80 to buy some beads. In the beginning I could only afford seed beads and base metal findings. I would also go to thrift stores and buy old jewelry and take it apart to create my designs. I started selling at small shows held at local high schools. As word spread and my confidence grew, I started making enough money to pay my bills. I turned a profit my first year. Any spare money I made went right back into to the business and it kept growing.

I worked long, hard hours, but I didn't mind because I loved what I was doing. The satisfaction I got when someone tried on my jewelry and their face lit up meant the world to me. I realized that I was helping these women feel beautiful. I felt I had found my purpose in spreading the good energy and beauty. I am very careful to always put love into my work. I feel like that good energy is transferred to the customer.

So seven years have passed and I proudly call myself a jewelry designer and successful business owner. Everything I own I have bought with my money earned from jewelry-making, including my house, my truck, my clothes, my flowers, my food, my goodies ... everything. I feel very blessed that I can pay my bills doing something I love. I just rescued two dogs. When I'm making jewelry and they want to play, I tell them "we'll play later, mama has to make the jewelry to buy the kibbles!"

My life is now complete and the core of it is my jewelry making. I have grown to love Fire Mountain Gems throughout this process. They have been there every step of the way. Fire Mountain has always been my primary source of supplies. I honestly do not know what I'd do without them. I know I can always find what I need and at the best price out there. If I have a question or a concern, my needs are always met. The staff is so friendly. I have to give props to my Platinum Partners representative, Joni, who emails me just to say "hi" and ask about my puppies, or to see how business is going. Everyone at Fire Mountain has been very encouraging and makes me feel like we have a relationship. That's nice to have when you're running your own business alone ... I feel like I have someone I can depend on.

I did it! I've made a life as a jewelry designer and Fire Mountain helped me create it.

If you use jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
My business is Patrician Art,, and is seven years old. My primary income comes from art shows. I also have my jewelry in stores and sell online via the internet.

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers? Examples: Make jewelry to support a cause? Any educational programs that use beads/beading to raise awareness?
I have donated my jewelry to many causes to raise money for breast cancer, schools, art museums, etc.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Be yourself. Design what you like with love and that will carry to the customer.