Hello designers, and welcome to this month's spotlight!

Halcraft Collection is excited to announce our October 2021 Spotlight Designer is Mari Diaz of Atelier Emme. Her regal bracelet stacks are fit for a queen!

Read on to learn more about Mari and her boholicious designs featuring Bead Gallery® beads, pendants, and charms by HalcraftCollection.com

When did you first start beading? Tell us about yourself.

My fascination with jewelry started as a little girl. I've always had a fondness for stones, beads, and anything sparkly. I loved watching my Mom put on her jewelry when she was getting ready to go out. I have fond memories of a pale pink Lucite sphere necklace that she would wear all the time. She looked like a movie star when she wore it.

My experimentation with beading started college. I attended art school and worked in the accessories department at Saks Fifth Avenue. As a college student, struggling artist, and aspiring fashion designer, I could not afford much but was enamored with jewelry. I would devour fashion magazines and would just fall in love with all the beautiful jewelry, especially the Avant-Garde and statement pieces. So one day, I bought some wire and a couple of pliers and started experimenting with different techniques. I remember buying my first spool of brass wire, a couple of strands of inexpensive glass beads, and practicing wire wrapping for hours on end. Since I could not afford to buy many beads, I would wire wrap all my beads. Then, when I had gone through my supplies, I would take the design apart and start practicing again. I just fell in love with jewelry making. Vintage shops and thrift stores became my haunt, looking for beads or jewelry that I could take apart to give them new life. I still have my first pair of pliers :)

Over the years, my love of jewelry has grown and matured. Learning different aspects of jewelry making, such as lapidary work, casting, metalsmithing, and metal clay, has been such a joy. I love incorporating these techniques into my jewelry. I strive to grow and better myself every day. There is so much to learn, so many wonderfully talented artisans and teachers to learn from, so many possibilities. I don't believe I will ever be done learning.

Tell us about your jewelry business.

I own a small jewelry studio called Atelier Emme. My specialty is creating one-of-a-kind limited edition vintage and bohemian-inspired jewelry. I currently sell my work through Etsy www.Etsy.com/shop/AtelierEmme and Instagram @atelier.emme.

It was by accident that I started selling pieces of my jewelry. One of my classmates saw the jewelry I was wearing during a metalsmithing class and asked me about it. She began to urge me to make pieces to sell. At first, I was hesitant. I only created for myself or gifts for family and friends. But, thanks to her encouragement and support, I eventually took the plunge. I held my first show at a local art gallery. With her by my side, I gained more confidence; and Atelier Emme was born. Then I began doing trunk shows, markets, and in-home shows and subsequently set up a fantastic online artisan market store on the platform Thousand Markets. Then, a few years later, I found Etsy, and the rest is history. I am forever grateful to my classmate and her support. It really put wind beneath my wings and helped me take the step to pursue my dream.

I genuinely believe that our energy changes when we are doing something we truly love. For example, I am happiest when designing and creating jewelry. It does not feel like work, and time falls away. Dreams beget dreams, and when you are doing something that you genuinely love, you achieve a level of self-love and self-worth that you can’t get through something less than. The one thing I would say to artists trying to find their path is never to give up on their dreams or to never settle.
I am incredibly grateful every day for all the support and encouragement I receive from my fellow artisans, customers, family, and friends. I am so honored and humbled to be featured by Halcraft Collection as their October Designer Spotlight; it truly is a milestone for me.

What is your favorite project that you've recently finished and why is it your favorite?

Oh goodness…that is such a difficult question to answer. I think my last piece is always my favorite, lol, because I pour so much of myself into everything I create. If I had to choose one recent favorite, it would be a stacking bracelet with African brass beads and CZ Pave accents. I love the juxtaposition of the primitive with the delicate CZ Pave. I always seem to fall in love with things that are a little odd or things that would typically not be put together. Another favorite is the bracelet to the right featuring Halcraft Collection beads. I adore the organic vibe with a touch of sparkle.

(Scroll down to the bottom to see Mari's African brass beaded bracelet.)

Visit Mari's Etsy Shop

What are your favorite beading techniques and materials?

I love wire wrapping; it is meditation to me. I go into Zen mode when I am wire wrapping a piece, becoming so focused on each wrap and coil that everything else falls away. I prefer working with sterling silver, gold-filled, bronze, brass wire, and Beadalon® German style wire. Half hard is my preferred temper for the wire; personally, I find dead soft difficult.

Stringing is a tie for my favorite technique. My all-time favorite stringing material is Beadalon® Flexible Beading Wire. It is extremely durable, has a beautiful drape, and comes in an assortment of finishes that coordinate perfectly with stones and beads. In addition, the wire blends seamlessly into each piece. Stringing is a fantastic technique because it allows your imagination to run free. You can create different patterns incorporating stones, metal beads, and elements for necklaces, bracelets, and even earrings!

What are some of your favorite beads or components on the Halcraft Collection website

It is so hard to choose! First, I spend hours exploring HalcraftCollection.com, adding loads of beads and components to my cart that total a gazillion dollars, lol. Then, I spent an insane amount of time trying to trim down and choose from what I added to my cart. I am currently in love with the Philippine natural shell beads, black lip shell beads, abalone beads, and the Philippine carved wood beads. They are just gorgeous!!

Also, I love finding Halcraft Collection Beads (Bead Gallery®) and components at Michaels Stores when I need something in a pinch. In a perfect world, Michaels Stores would have a section dedicated to the full line of Halcraft Collection beads and pendants. Halcraft Collection's orders do ship super fast, sometimes waiting for the mail is hard :)

Shop Wood BeadsShop Shell BeadsShop PendantsShop Black Lip Shell BeadsShop Abalone Beads

Where do you get your beading inspiration? What most inspires you?

I always say inspiration, at least for me, comes from the most unexpected places. Most of my inspiration comes from nature, art, architecture, books, and movies. I have always been fascinated by how things are made and how they work; often, the littlest of details in something brings a design concept. It is usually a color, a shape, a texture that inspires me. A small element of something rather than a piece as a whole.
I take that small element and incorporate it into my design in a completely different form.

I am also inspired by my love of antique jewelry and find inspiration from history books, especially from the Byzantine era, Victorian and Edwardian. Some of the techniques used then were so brilliant for the time; I am fascinated by their craftsmanship.

Based on my inspiration, when I start working on a collection, I tend to look at the individual pieces as a whole, like small art installations for the body, if that makes sense? I think of how each piece will relate and marry one another so that they flow. I like to think of how someone will feel wearing my jewelry; that is really important to me. My hope is that the wearer will feel beautiful, empowered, and confident.

Do you have any tips for the readers regarding building their social media reach?

From my experience, I feel that the quality of the content is essential. Furthermore, I think it represents artisans, so being a conscious creator is very important for me.

Consistency and dedication are a must. Being consistent with posts and shop updates is extremely important and can feel almost like a full-time job. Still, consistency has the best return when building a niche for our work and engaging with followers and potential customers.

Cohesiveness is also high on my list. How we present our work visually is so important. It is important to define ourselves as artisans. What is your aesthetic, design style, and philosophy? My goal is for everyone to think and feel that my collection is made with love and compassion. Each piece is imbibed with positive energy, light, care, and attention to detail. I put a little piece of myself into everything I create. Each piece reflects who I am as a human being and an artisan; I hope they can feel it.

Visit Mari's Instagram

If you had room for only two tools in your bead kit, what would they be?

Ugh…it’s like Sophie’s Choice… lol. I would have to say my snipe nose pliers and my round nose pliers. They are multi-purpose, and I find they can help accomplish most basic jewelry making techniques. A great set of pliers will go a long way. They will definitely reduce hand fatigue and provide ease while working. Quality pliers are an investment, but I believe the investment pays off tenfold. My favorite pliers are manufactured by Lindstrom. I have had them for 15 years, and they still work perfectly.

What jewelry trends are you excited to incorporate into your beadwork?

I am excited to incorporate the ‘Chunky’ trend, as I have always loved bold, statement pieces. Mainly, I love creating what I call ‘Tall Stacks’ and ‘neckmesses.’ I design bold and chunky unusual combinations with wood and CZ Pave and crystals. Another favorite is rustic or tribal chunky beads and stones mixed with filigree metals or semi-precious or precious stones as a focal. Mixing in chunky chains adds another level of depth and texture.

Many years ago, I fell in love with Paloma Picasso’s work. I love her use of bold chunky stones and metals in unusual shapes. She is truly brilliant. She is the epitome of an artisan and continues to inspire me even after all these years; her work is timeless.

What jewelry techniques would you like to learn?

I would love to learn seed work, such as bead weaving and peyote. Those techniques are so incredibly beautiful. The intricate details and patterns are just magnificent. Seed bead artisans are in a league of their own. Their work is executed with such finesse!

Although I hand knot some of my pieces, it takes me longer than I would like to complete a piece. I would also love to master hand knotting and eventually become second nature like wire wrapping. I admire artisans who hand knot their pieces so much, they make it look so effortless; but I can attest it is not :)

Fun Facts about Mari
and more of her Inspiring designs!

Mari was born in Chicago, Illinois, and has 4 wonderful brothers.

She currently resides in Orlando, Florida, with her beautiful 15-year-old daughter, a talented artist herself. She is her biggest supporter and encourager and has a kind heart and a generous spirit.

Art school grad! Mari graduated with a degree in Fashion Design but ended up with a career in interior design. She opened her design studio 10 years ago. She still consults while building her jewelry business with the hopes of focusing 100% in the near future.

Furry Friends! She is a huge animal lover and has many foster fails under her belt.

A cause near and dear to her heart... Advocating for animal rights and welfare. Her goal is to help fund and volunteer at an animal sanctuary.

Crafty! Some of her other crafts include watercolor and sewing. She started sewing at 13 years old and made most of her clothes through high school and college. She also enjoys designing draperies, pillows, as well as refinishing and refurbishing furniture.

Mari is social! Find her on Instagram (@atelier.emme), Facebook (@atelieremmecollection), and recently TikTok (@atelieremme) at the urging of my daughter. Also, she recently started a Pinterest board for her jewelry (Atelier Emme Jewelry Collection) at the urging of a lovely client.

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Denise Yezbak Moore is a self-taught artisan. She is a senior jewelry designer and content creator for Halcraft Collection and loves to create jewelry with bohemian flair. Denise resides in Orange County, California, and enjoys hearing from fellow beaders worldwide.  Be sure to follow her on Instagram @deniseyezbakmoore