Sandra Elizabeth York

Desert Oasis

Desert Oasis
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2013 featuring Metal
Gold Medal Prize Winner
Category: Bracelet

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Just outside Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
My most prominent inspirations have to be botanical and romance. I love to work asymmetrical with whimsical lines, and a variety of color.

What medium do you work with mostly?
I find silver Metal Clay intoxicating. It has opened many avenues of creativity within me and allows me to introduce many other mediums into my work.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Desert Oasis

What inspired this design?
Ken, my partner and I traveled to the desert in Arizona. We love to Rock hound so we picked an area, way out in the desert and started hunting ... we did not find what we were looking for but Ken found a piece of dried cactus, a skeleton really. We brought it all the way back to our home where I painted it with Silver Metal Clay. When fired and cleaned up it looked fantastic, I loved the texture, yet natural feel of the finished piece and I wanted to recreate the wonderful experience we shared that day.

How did it come together?
The piece came together in my mind. I started to design the bracelet around the piece of fired cactus. Loving to work asymmetrical, made it easy to use the finished piece as a starting point. I knew I wanted to use Turquoise as the center so I started looking at photos we took of the nature we saw in the dessert, the critter we disturbed and the colors we were surrounded by. Color and texture have always been important to me, so working in 3D is very exciting to me. I carved a gecko and made a mold out of it to recreate the gecko in metal clay, then filled in space with simple dessert flowers. I have also created a broach and a thumb ring to match using the same mold. These pieces are very personal to me and I love how it all came together.

Why did you become enchanted with this style of jewelry-making?
I have always been creative. I started painting in high school, which eventually led me to become a botanical watercolor artist. I started with beads when my Mom was recovering from a life-threatening fight with a Super Bug. I saw a need in her to find something useful she could do while she was confined to her home. Beading fulfilled her void and gave us a wonderful Mother-Daughter connection. She convinced me to take a class with her on silver Metal Clay. My whole world exploded. I found that silver Metal Clay allowed me to sculpt, carve or paint, I can add cabochons or faceted stones. And I am learning to enamel. My creativity has no boundary with Metal Clay.

Where and How do you sell your jewelry?
My jewelery can be found at the Rock and Gem Shows that we (my partner and I) do around the Vancouver, B.C. lower mainland (Under the name Rusty's Gems). We do about 7 shows a year. I also sell from my Facebook page at And I am a Certified Metal Clay Instructor, so you can find my work at the local bead stores that I teach at, as well as from my home.

Please share your experience or comments on how showcasing your Jewelry Design Success Story benefits you as an Artist/Designer.
As an Artist/Designer, there is nothing more gratifying as learning that someone else appreciates your contribution to the art world. Whether it be a customer comment, or a purchase, or being published. This is the first competition I have ever entered with my Jewelery. I can tell you that it is both humbling and exhilarating to have taken the Gold Metal. I am humbled by the fact that this piece was created from a very personal experience with my Partner Ken, our love of nature and my overwhelming desire to create with Metal Clay. My piece, Desert Oasis, was taken from such a personal journey, it exhilarates me and it encourages me to continue. It tells me that I am on a very rewarding and exciting life journey as a Metal Clay Artist, Designer, and Instructor. Winning the Gold Metal has catapulted my creativity and business to a new level. People from around the world, that I didn't know were even aware of me, have admired and commented on my piece. This is a very exciting time for me, and I feel like it is only the beginning. Thank you Fire Mountain Gems for both the personal satisfaction and the world wide recognition that comes with this award.