Over the last 12 years, my bead stash has grown into something I would have never dreamed of. I started out designing jewelry while living in Chicago. My roommate at the time left for work one day with me at the sewing machine and returned later that night to find me with tiny little seed beads and wire scattered about our mosaic tiled coffee table. Those itsy bitsy beads were all stuck in the cracks of the tile, sofa cushions and bouncing just about everywhere. Of course this was my first experience with beading, so I didn’t have the proper supplies, like a handy bead mat, bead stoppers, and for that matter, even the correct beading wire. Times sure have changed from staying up until 2am making jewelry just for fun. My first time at the Bead&Button Show in Milwaukee was all it took to know this is what I wanted to do for a living! After browsing and shopping aisle, after aisle with my mom, I couldn’t stop thinking about beads and new ways to use them. At that time I decided to make a move from fast-paced city living, to a quiet little tourist town and beads and jewelry designing became my career. For years I was a co-owner of a bead store on Main St. where I was able to work with my mom and be surrounded by beads daily. This is where I met Wendy and Jeanne, my kindred spirits. We were brought together through our passion for jewelry design in a place offering natural beauty, history, and inspiration – the small, eclectic and art-inspiring town of Galena, Illinois. Not that long after we met, through our combined efforts, Vintaj was born. Art beads are a main part of my inspiration. I love their handmade & organic quality. -Jess Nine years later, Vintaj – now reaching worldwide markets – is growing rapidly and employs several friends and family members. As a co-owner and the Education Director for Vintaj, I stay very busy. Our operations, offices and the Vintaj studio are now in a large facility where we film all my favorite mixed media jewelry tips and techniques. We also have a bricks and mortar shop, which is full of handcrafted jewelry and tons of inspiration. My designs are inspired by nature and the beauty of our changing seasons evoking a memory, thought or feeling. In this book, I guide you through this process sharing my personal design style and favorite techniques. Art beads are a main part of my inspiration. I love their handmade & organic quality. Creating & mixing art beads with a variety of metals & techniques is my favorite process in jewelry designing. The medium of the art bead determines the technique & tools I will incorporate into the piece. Birds, flowers, leaves, colors, texture, shapes and messages tell a story when brought together with the right combination of beads, metals & other materials. Some mediums, techniques & tools I love together are; polymer clay + filigree wrapping + fiber = rustic look, ceramic + clustering + linking = delicate look, acrylic flowers & glass + wire wrapping = organic feel, just to name a few. I absolutely love creating artistic focals & jewelry components as well; altering blanks & bezels, embossing, etching, stamping, letter imprinting, texturing, filigree & wire wrapping, patina effects, melt art, shaping & forming metal and more! With Vintaj jewelry tools & dies it makes it easy to achieve that vintage, rustic & worn mixed media jewelry look that I’m going for.

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