Born and raised in Las Vegas, NV, Mary Beth Heishman has always been fascinated with the beautiful desert landscape that surrounds her. It’s evident in her artwork and it’s beautifully reflected in her work as owner and maker of one of our favorite jewelry lines, I Adorn U.
We recently got to visit the talented artist and educator in her beautiful 1970s home that she shares with her hubby Dave and their gentle giant of a dog, Lenny.
It was wonderful to see Mary Beth work her magic at her in-home studio. We got to learn a little about the intricate processes of jewelry making and check out her eclectic artwork collection, both her own and from other fellow artists, as well as her enviable collection of vintage finds from various travels.
Read on to get to know more about this incredible, down-to-earth artist, her creative process and her inspirations:
What drew you to jewelry making?
MB: My grandmother's incredible collection of custom-made jewelry was a huge inspiration. I would study and marvel over her collection of custom made gems from the 1950s -1980s. She had the best taste in jewelry! She would tell me the process of having jewelers make these pieces for her. As a kid, I was fascinated in how a jeweler could take metal and gemstones and turn them into a work of art.
Another source of inspiration were my travels to Peru as a young child. My mother is Peruvian and we would travel to Peru to visit family as well as visit archeological sites. We would also visit museums of Incan and pre-Incan antiquities.
The Incans were master goldsmiths. The gold and silver Incan jewelry were breathtaking examples of their craftsmanship. The historical significance and beauty of pre-Columbian art has inspired many modern artists including myself.
Last but not least; my parents’ imported Peruvian handicrafts-- alpaca sweaters, copper vases and silver with turquoise charms—have definitely influenced my art. I was obsessed with Peruvian silver and turquoise charms. It’s so interesting how we are naturally drawn to these early pieces that later become inspirations for new works.
I would make friendship bracelets as a child, made hemp jewelry as a teenager, and worked in a local bead shop in college. I’d then sell or trade my works to friends. It’s fun to reflect on my growth as a jeweler over the years. Some of my pals still have my earliest pieces!
Your pieces have so much charm and distinctive appeal; can you tell us a little bit about your creative process?
MB: I have three sketchbooks, one in my studio, one in my nightstand and one in my desk. If an idea comes to me, I will sketch it out and write down the materials it would be made of. Also my "notes" section in my phone is filled with ideas. After sketching, I’ll go into my studio and attempt to make a mockup or prototype. Usually, the first attempt needs much fine-tuning. I always learn from every new attempt and also from custom orders.
As a Las Vegas native, what are some things about this city that continues to inspire your work today?
MB: I love the surrounding desert environment. I love hiking and shooting photos of I Adorn U jewelry in the desert. The lines and contours of the mountains, the crescent moon over a reflective pond of water. All of that natural beauty inspires my work.
Old Las Vegas also inspires my jewelry designs. The Stardust's atomic stars served as the inspiration for new rings I made last month. Las Vegas has such a beautiful history and iconic imagery.
Also, we have a strong art community made up of friends who are so creative and successful here in Las Vegas. It’s truly inspiring. Surround yourself with positive, creative makers, and I promise you, that energy is contagious!
Where is your favorite place that you’ve traveled so far?
MB: Peru is my favorite place to travel. We hiked the Inca trail for four days and it covered so many different ecosystems from desert to cloud forest!
Your style in 3 words:
MB: Natural, Linear, Organic.
Favorite music to jam out to while working:
MB: Ing's "Dog Physics" album & Led Zepplin’s "Houses of the Holy", Carla Morrison's "Yo Sigo Aqui", and loads of A Tribe Called Quest.
What does your ideal day off look like?
MB: A lovely hike with Lenny and Dave, coming home to cook a fresh dinner and ending the day by relaxing on the couch with a nice glass of wine.
Coffee or tea?
MB: Coffee. Black. Beans roasted by our local science teacher pal.
>> Visit the I Adorn U shop for beautiful, handcrafted jewelry made with sustainable materials, proudly sourced in the USA.
Follow Mary Beth’s adventures on Instagram!