It Started with the Bride Doll
Children’s toys are not insignificant, transitory things. Many people remember a favorite doll or truck, lucky marble, board game, or set of blocks. Long after the toy has been broken, lost, grown out of or disused, its impact remains.
Jewelry artist Sharon Demaris recalls such a treasured toy — a Bride Doll that she purchased at Montgomery Wards in Walla Walla, WA, when Demaris was five years old.
“I loved her beautiful satin and lace dress with all of the sequins and pearls,” the College Place, WA, artist remembers.
“That has really stuck with me through the years — I guess that’s the reason so many of my designs lean toward the bridal theme, with all of the whites, creams, and gold.”
And how she loves crystals and pearls, the shimmer of gold, the sparkle of gems. They catch her eye, capture her attention, create a clarion call of siren bling that she is not remotely interested in resisting.
Beads Pique Her Interest
“Throughout most of my life, anything artistic has piqued my interest,” Demaris says. She started, under her grandmother’s tutelage, with crochet and embroidery. Then came ceramics, into which she jumped, with enthusiasm, until the local ceramics outlet closed. Following upon that, bright and shining, arrived a true artistic love, one that connected with that bride doll of years gone by:
“Christmas being my favorite time of year, then came The Ornament. It involved beads, lace ribbon, trim, and sequins on Styrofoam balls, then later seed beads, crystal, and other fancy beads. I also got into bead weaving making covers for glass balls.”
But the romance with The Ornament reached its limits when her Christmas tree could no longer hold all that she created, even after she sold and gave away a substantial number of beaded beauties. She needed an outlet for her creativity that was unlimited to the size of a tree or the few weeks of a holiday season. And that’s when she discovered jewelry. It completed that long-ago connection with the Bride Doll, fulfilling the childhood desire for sparkle and romance, magic and beauty.
A New Passion
“Designing jewelry has become my true passion: what started out as a hobby has become an obsession.
“Most of my jewelry designs are originals. When I see a design that I feel that I would like to make, I do my own version of that design.
“Eventually, my designs became so fancy and intricate that I started entering the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Swarovski Contests, and all have been successful.”
This contest, which attracts jewelry makers from around the world, promises treasures for the winner: generous gift certificates, the winning work featured in ads in various bead magazines as well as in Fire Mountain’s catalogs, and exposure via social media and the company website. To date, Demaris has garnered seven major awards: “Crystal Falls” took the 2019 Gold Medal for Accessories, and “Queen Anne’s Lace” won the Grand Prize Bronze. Her work has been featured in Fire Mountain Gem ads in two British magazines, Bead and Jewelry and Making Jewellery, as well as showcased on the back cover of Bead and Button Magazine.
Her Happy Place
Demaris’s studio, which is filled with organized beads, crystals, gems, and findings, displays the award-winning works in professionally shot photo presentations, neatly framed. Demaris spends hours of concentrated time in this spare bedroom turned design studio. Generally she works on several pieces at one time.
“It’s an old habit, but not a good one,” she says of multiple, simultaneous projects. She sells from an inventory of jewelry that she has made, which has at times included up to 500 pairs of earrings, and also creates custom pieces on commission.
“I am a self-taught designer. I have never had a lesson.
“For me, there is nothing more rewarding than to finish a design and have it turn out the way you envisioned it. It makes me feel like I have really accomplished something great.”
And it all started when a five-year-old girl, in love with her Bride Doll, imagined the possibilities.
They were endless.
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.