Can you start by telling us a bit about your background?
I was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. My father was in the military, so I grew up all over the United States and spent a few years in Germany. I have no real roots!
What is your current situation?
I now live in Pennsylvania about an hour out of the city of Pittsburgh. I didn’t choose this ‘job’ - it chose me. I went to art school where I majored in illustration & cartooning. I planned to work as a designer for a greeting card company, but I found myself getting married and becoming a mom, so that plan went out the window as I wanted to stay home to raise my child. I started playing around with jewellery designs for something to do while my daughter took naps. This sparked my interest in creating. I tried all kinds of techniques, but it was beadwork that ultimately became my truecalling. I’m very blessed to be able to do
what I love and make a living doing it.
What materials/technique etc. do you commonly use in your work?
Bead embroidery is my chosen way to create art jewellery. I love it because there are no limits and you can do anything & everything with it. My first embroidery started out as a brooch, and I kept going and going until it became a broad collar inspired by the Egyptian culture!
Have you formally studied any relevant courses?
I was born with a crayon in my hand, my mom used to say. So everyday life is a class to me... I’m inspired by everything & anything. I’ve taken classes in everything from illustration, to glass making, to resin bezels.
What are your masterpieces or pieces that you are most proud of?
My proudest pieces are the ones that are worn by Steven Tyler of Aerosmith! He wore my beadwork to fashion week in Milan a few years back, and the newspaper actually mentioned it in an article. Very exciting! I did a dedication piece to him and the band. It’s called ‘Demon of Screamin’. It has won several awards at shows, and it’s a personal piece that I will keep forever.
Has anyone (we might have heard of) worn your jewellery?
Steven Tyler, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, Lenny Kravitz and Melissa
Etheridge have worn my beadwork.
Where do you get your ideas?
It depends totally on my mood and where I’m at in my life. I love edgy rock designs one day, and then go completely retro and love vintage the next. I love to pour through fashion magazines to get inspired. The colours usually make me want to create.
Do you teach your craft at all?
I teach internationally. I began in 2003 when asked to teach for Bead & Button in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Teaching is very rewarding. It’s wonderful when others realise that they have an ‘inner artist’ inside of them, and then they create their own unique pieces.
Have you written any books, or been published?
I have been published and written articles for several well-known magazines. My work has been featured on the covers of trade magazines & catalogues. I’m the author of the newly released ‘Inspired Bead Embroidery’ and ‘Sensational Bead
Embroidery’; I’m also co-author of the ‘Art of Bead Embroidery’ with artist and my
dear friend Heidi Kummli.
Can you describe your workspace for us?
I have a large studio with large windows that look out on a pond. It sits on five acres of land, so the doors are always open for the dogs to run in and out! It’s very relaxing.
Do you work by yourself, or have you collaborated with anyone else?
I have collaborated in the past with Marcia DeCoster and Heidi Kummli. They are fabulous, and it was quite an honour to work with artists I have admired throughout my career. I also like collaborating with artists who create focals. ‘Monster’ has claws on it created for me by artist Wayne Robbins. They were challenging, and I really enjoyed that aspect of the piece. Getting the claws to work correctly in the embroidery was insane! But I do adore a challenge!
What are you working on at the moment? Any particular piece of work or an exciting project?
Right now I’m in travel mode. I’ve got several things on the table that I’m playing around with, and they will become something when they grow up! I just don’t
know what yet... they haven’t spoken to me.