First, we ask you:
When did you first start beading? What did your life look like at the time, and how did beading feel to you?
Please leave a comment with your answer! We asked the same question of our authors in Lark Jewelry & Beading’s Beadweaving Master Class series, with three wonderful titles already released and three more to come in 2011. We’ll be doing weekly Q-and-A’s with these six master beading teachers in a panel-style format on this blog. Enjoy, and please do leave a comment with your own answer to each question!
I’ve been beading since I was about 5 years old. I took up full-fledged beadweaving at about 15. Life looked good then and still does.
As far as how it feels and felt: Working with your hands is an amazing thing and probably the only thing that keeps me grounded.
I was excited and curious about this thing called beadwork. What in the world was this thing called “peyote stitch?” I had seen the book by Horace Goodhue and later made an effort to buy it. I learned he lived in St. Paul, just across the Mississippi River from me, and called him about taking classes from him.
It was a natural progression from quilting and Oriental rug designs in needlepoint to beadwork. And then I found out about Virginia Blakelock and that she and Carol Perrenoud were giving classes in Minnesota. That was heaven.
Rachel Nelson-Smith, author of the Fall 2011 release Rachel Nelson-Smith’s Bead Riffs:
After a lamentable semester away as a musical theater major in Decatur, Illinois, my parents took me in and I looked for work in Santa Cruz, California. The local bead shop, Bead It, hired me to work on the floor, and I learned about jewelry assembly and beads. Of course, it probably did not hurt that my maiden name was the same as that of the shop owner, which is what I attribute to her hiring me despite my near zero knowledge of jewelry assembly.
Most of my paycheck was spent to wrap more wire and string more necklaces for myself. That was 1993 or 1994, and that was also when I met Marcia DeCoster for the first time. She gave me the first set of beadweaving instructions I ever followed.
I had sewn, knit, and crocheted before, but it was like the beads and I spoke the same language.
I started beading in 1990 during the craze for amulet bags. I had a job in a computer company and three early teenage children. I’ve always liked to create using small materials—crocheting with perle cotton and making Barbie Doll clothes on size 0 needles—so the smallness of the beads was comfortable. A big attraction was being able to make unique jewelry.
Maggie Meister, author of the Fall 2011 release Maggie Meister’s Classical Elegance:
I started beading in 1993 when I saw a pair of earrings that my son’s kindergarten teacher was wearing. I asked her where she bought them and she said she made them! It never occurred to me that you could make your own jewelry or anything else!
She referred me to the Shepherdess in San Diego. I took a workshop and was hooked.
I started beading in 1997. I was playing with polymer clay and making beads from the clay—badly, I might add.
My mother was in a car accident at this time, and I ended up being in an intensive care unit night and day for months. I needed a mental distraction, and I purchased some seed beads, knowing that polymer couldn’t be toted to the hospital with ease.
The seed beads proved to be meditative and soothing. I fell in love with the new medium. My mother got well, and I gave away all my clay.
A new love had entered my life. Beads have literally saved my sanity more than once. They’re little therapists for me.
*Now, read these great recent Lark Jewelry & Beading interviews with leading creative beaders, jewelers, and metalsmiths—please leave comments and let us know what you think.
Laura McCabe (with free project PDF)
Jamie Cloud Eakin (with bonus project PDF)
Nathalie Mornu (with two free project PDFs)