An Interview with Designer Julie Ann Smith
I met beader/knitter/cartoonist/all-around-creative-person Julie Ann Smith when she emailed me in response to one of the Beading Daily newsletters and asked me to take a look at some of her work. I was blown away by her bright, cheery designs! (Be sure to check out one of her peyote patterns, The Illusion, at the bottom of this newsletter.) Julie Ann has a tremendous amount of energy and has a good sense of priorities (beading tops laundry every time!).
Michelle: How did you get started beading?
Julie Ann: I started beading just as soon as I could hold pin. My grandmother used to make sequin Christmas balls, and I used to love to hold the pin, put on the bead and sequin and hand it to Grandma. I think I was about three. There was always some kind of craft going on in my house. My mother was quite creative, though she never stepped beyond a pattern. She would sew, quilt, embroider, and play the piano. So our house was filled with crafts and concert piano. I'm like that today. I always have my iPod on and always have some beading, embroidery, quilting, crocheting, or knitting going on.
Michelle: I noticed on your website that you have a range of artistic outlets--beading, crochet, quilting, drawing, fabric design. Do you have favorite (or a current favorite)?
Julie Ann: I can't say I have a favorite, no. My artistic brain likes to move from craft to craft. I do get bored very easily cause my designer brain is always on the move. I love them all, really! I just taught myself how to knit a pair of socks. I'm jazzed about it cause now everyone is going to get a pair of socks for Christmas.
I love beading and that is what I'm focusing on now becausecause since our move, I don't have my yarn, or anything like that. Since I'm a 'print' artist, I naturally wanted to see some of my art in beads. I have almost 100 patterns in my catalog and that is goal for the rest of the summer, to hit that 100 mark!
I'm a new Grandmother (for the second time) and I'm quilting Emrie a crib quilt. I love making purses to, so I made my daughter-in-law and my other granddaughter Ayvrie, purses to match Emrie's quilt. I'm also knitting Emrie a sweater. Since we live in Texas, I'm making it a 6 month size, so she can wear it when the weather turns colder.
Oh--did I mention?--I also make glass beads!
So as you see, I'm a 'mile a minute' kind of gal, always thinking and creating.
Michelle: How would you describe your design style?
Julie Ann: Oh my goodness. I'm not sure how to describe it. I'm a child a heart, so I guess "child-like" and very whimsical. Bright colors and lots of fun is probably how I would describe it.
Michelle: You are super productive! (5,000 bead sets—really? Wow!) How much time do you spend creating each week?
Julie Ann: Yes, back in early 2000, I began to make my own jewelry. I hated the beads I saw and soon learned about lampworking. I had one class and the rest, as they say, is history. In 2002, I made over 5,000 lampwork bead sets and sold most on justbeads.com and eBay. I was the sole provider at the time, as my husband had gone back to school to get his degree. With two kids at home too, it was all up to me. I made a pretty good living for us then. I was working 18 hours days to get my orders out, but looking back, it was all worth it.
Now that I'm 50, I've slowed a bit. I work and design about 14 hours now. I do take time to cook and do dishes, but I only clean and do laundry once a week. Beading and creating are far more important that those other things.
Michelle: What are you working on now?
Julie Ann: I'm focusing on my beading patterns now, as I want to hit that 100 mark by year's end. I've got a ton of ideas in my head and not enough of me to do what I want to do. I truly need a design assistant, a web person, and gosh, maybe two or three more of me. Move over, Martha Stewart!
I have about 600 loyal followers and I want to grow that into 1,000 by the year's end. Most of my girls have been with me since my debut in 1999 on the bead market. I want to produce the best for them and make their beading experience tops. In my newsletters, I want them to find love, fun, and beading, in that order. I made many friends, and one day, I hope to have a party where I can bring all my friends together. (That's after I win the lottery!)
Thanks, Julie Ann! To see more of Julie Ann Smith's colorful designs, visit her website.
New Free Project:
by Julie Ann Smith
This odd-count peyote stitch bracelet is named after the illusion that the center section of the bracelet appears larger than either side, although it is really the same size. Project instructions include a color chart of the peyote pattern and suggestions for finishing. Previous experience with peyote stitch recommended.
NEW Free Peyote Stitch Pattern eBook: Our first free beadweaving pattern e-book features 5 peyote stitch projects, plus two full pages of step-by-step illustrated instructions on even- and odd-count peyote, and a sheet of peyote stitch graph paper for creating original jewelry designs. Download Peyote Stitch Projects with BeadingDaily: 5 Free Peyote Stitch Patterns
Fall Reader Gallery: If you would like to participate in this reader gallery, please send me a link to your blog/website or one JPG image of your best fall-related design by September 5, 2008. Only one design per person please! Use the email address: email@example.com and in the subject line of your email, write: Fall Reader Gallery. I'm looking forward to seeing your work!
Michelle Mach shares free projects every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.