Meet the Artist Iris Mayes - jewelry designer

Iris MayesIris Mayes of Moscow will be featured with her handcrafted jewelry at the first Meet the Artist session of 2012 on Thursday, January 5, at the library in Colfax at 7:00 p.m. Mayes is an employee of the Whitman County Public Works planning department.

Mayes has had an eclectic background in the arts, trying everything from making paper to designing and sewing costumes to the performing arts and painting. She was even art director for a couple of local movies. A friend of hers told her it is “cross pollinating”-- one form of artistic expression feeding into another.

Iris earned a degree in landscape architecture at University of Oregon in Eugene and spent as much time as possible in the crafts center trying various arts and crafts. She said she must have come close to completing a minor in art.

Her first experience in bead work was at University of Oregon with small bead work such as peyote stitch rounds and flat work designs. She was immediately drawn to the idea that she could make many of the pieces of jewelry she saw. Her first projects tended to be simpler and most were given away to friends.

Later she decided to step up to using semi-precious stones in more sophisticated jewelry. She also learned to solder silver and has incorporated one of her favorite artistic motifs, the spiral, into her jewelry using silver wire.

 “Silver is expensive so I limit the amount I use,” she noted.

She said she obtains most of her supplies, such as beads, stones and silver wire, on line. Her favorite beads are Bali beads which she can find on line.

“A couple of years ago I started making copper wire sculptures, mostly using a spiral design, and translated that into jewelry,” she said. Iris is quite fond of copper and has made copper chain necklaces with copper charms.

Iris now sells her jewelry at the Moscow farmer’s market and Moscow Co-op and on consignment at the Pritchard Gallery at University of Idaho, and at the occasional art and craft event such as the antique show in Plummer. She does many of her pieces on contract.

Iris grew up in Moscow and returned there after attending college at Eugene. She and her husband and 6-year-old son Jack live in Moscow and Iris commutes to Colfax to work in the county planning department. She said she has always been interested in planning and completed a degree in planning at University of Idaho. She has worked on projects with the Couer d’Alene tribe which gave her the chance to meet tribal artists.

And Iris continues to cross pollinate. She does encaustic painting—painting with wax. She makes her own paint using earth pigments and paints the wax onto bender board, a board similar to Masonite. With some pressure from the arts council, she has agreed to bring along some samples of her painting to Meet the Artist along with her jewelry.

Plans for the future: to learn ceramics, fused glass, stained glass…

 The Meet the Artist series is sponsored by Colfax Arts Council and Whitman County Library. Sessions run on the first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in the library meeting room (except in the summer months) and are free to the public.

Co-sponsored by the Colfax Arts Council 509-397-3905 and Friends of Whitman County Library 509-397-4366.


For more information, contact:

Kristie Kirkpatrick at 509-397-4366

For a complete list of events and programs happening in all fourteen Whitman County Library branches, visit the Whitman County Library website or the library's events calendar or call the library at 397-4366 or 877-733-3375 toll-free.