It was Christmas Eve 2010, and the office was closed for the holidays. But I came in to do a little, um, workflow maintenance, and not surprisingly one of our hardworking, excellent production guys, Lance Wille, was at his desk plugging away.
Lance gave me a very special and unexpected Christmas gift: He showed me the verification copy for approval of Sherry Serafini’s Sensational Bead Embroidery: 25 Inspiring Jewelry Projects. The verification copy essentially is the first book off the presses, overnighted to us by the printer for approval to ensure nothing went too awry.
It didn’t. The book is gorgeous, sumptuous, inspiring: everything I hoped for when I signed Sherry in 2009 and we first worked to develop it. Supported by her editors Nathalie Mornu and Judith Durant and book designers Carol Morse Barnao and Kathy Holmes, Sherry has produced a truly remarkable bead-book masterpiece that will thrill beaders of all skill levels.
At Lark, we get the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, and somehow during that time the phrase “the Spring of Sherry Serafini” started entering my mind (kind of like “the Summer of George,” a reference for all you Seinfeld fans). So I just had to launch our Spring 2011 season with an interview of Sherry, and she kindly and sweetly obliged in just the way you’d expect from this kind and sweet woman who is also one of the world’s great beadwork designers. You can also learn more about Sherry’s work on her website, www.serafinibeadedjewelry.com.
The book officially releases in April, and it already is available for pre-order on BN.com and Amazon. Or please check with your independent bead store or bookstore and make sure they’ve pre-ordered it themselves — historically, we’ve quickly blown through our first printing of books in Lark Jewelry & Beading’s Beadweaving Master Class series every single time. This book will stand proudly alongside Diane Fitzgerald’s Shaped Beadwork, Marcia DeCoster’s Beaded Opulence, and Laura McCabe’s Embellished Beadweaving in your beading library, and I’m pleased to report that in addition to Sherry’s exciting 2011 release we’ll have two more new books in this series in the fall: Maggie Meister’s Classical Elegance and Rachel Nelson-Smith’s Bead Riffs.
I posted this part once before, but be sure to click here for a sneak preview of photographs of six of the 25 spectacular projects included in the book.
We’ve just met, Sherry, and we’re at the point in the conversation when you describe who you are. Who are you?
A crazy woman after traveling all year!
Seriously, though, I’m an artist who has chosen beads as the medium that best expresses myself. I’m also a spiritual individual. I’m a mom, a teacher, a friend, and a person who takes advantage of every second of every day.
How do you describe your beading? In what ways do you think it’s a reflection of your personality?
My beadwork is a free-flowing expression of who I am. I do it for me. I don’t create with any concerns about whether someone else will like my designs or not.
My work is balanced, yet unbalanced at the same time. I appear to be a very organized individual in control of things. But a lot of times I cannot even sleep at night because the ideas keep overflowing out of my psyche, making me feel out of control.
This complexity comes out in my bead embroidery, especially the very asymmetrical pieces. It’s also how I produce large bodies of work. While there is cohesiveness in my work, there are many beaded paths down which my mind wanders.
The energy that is in me has to come out in the art. It has no choice!
How did you develop your “rock star” connections? Would you describe that process, and how you think it has affected your career?
That question would take 1,000 pages to cover! I’m thrilled to be connected to some of the coolest people I’ve ever met, in the music industry. I’ve been lucky, too. It all began with ‘one awesome rocker’ — Steven Tyler — who saw a neckpiece at a concert. He liked my beadwork and word of mouth took over.
Stephen wore my beadwork not only in the United States but at a fashion show for Roberto Cavalli in Milan. It affected my career, and maybe the bead world more broadly, because not only has my beadwork been used as body adornment, it has also been photographed for promotional materials for the bands. It has taken beaded art to a new level in that aspect.
Creating beadwork for musicians also is an awesome outlet for my creativity. They usually let me do whatever I want.
How many hours a day do you actually bead? And what does the rest of your day look like?
Usually around six to eight hours a day, five days a week. The rest of the day is spent taking care of the business side of the beadwork.
Do you have a beading “weakness”?
My beading weakness? It has to be the money I spend on the beads! I could open a store in my home and still have enough to open two more.
Technically, my beading “weakness” would be having way too many projects going on at once. I tend to get excited about starting a new piece while in the middle of beading another piece, and then my beading table gets horribly messy with way too much going on.
Where do you find the cabochons, buttons, pins, and beads that you use as focal elements?
I’m a scavenger. I find them anywhere from flea markets to huge bead shows.
I’m very into other artists’ works and like to use them in my beadwork. I like the collaboration.
I’ve been known to create my own focal points, as well. Long before I started beading, I was into polymer clay and paper.
Sherry, what is your favorite …
Type of food? Tough question! I have to choose pizza.
Book? I love art books of all kinds. I have a huge collection of world art books.
Color? Black. Or green. Or maybe burnt umber. It depends on my mood.
Electronic device? I can’t live without my iPod.
Movie? Psycho! Alfred Hitchcock was the coolest.
TV show? It depends. I’m currently addicted to Project Runway. I love to see what the people create in short periods of time.
Painter? I love da Vinci’s works, Salvador Dali, and the style of Michelangelo.
Cake? What?!? Cake? Hmm … if I had to pick one it would be a Dairy Queen ice cream cake — just for the crunchy fudge stuff in the middle.
Rock band? Everyone knows this one: Aerosmith!
What do you like about teaching a class, and what do you find challenging about it? And how is it different for you teaching a master class in book form?
I like teaching because of the joy I get from watching my students have a great time and learn something new.
I also love the camaraderie of classes. It’s nice to know I’m not the only crazy person out there who loves beading so much.
The challenging part is preparing for classes. Trying to get kits together can get grueling.
It’s different from a book because I’m not personally in front of someone to explain what I’m talking about. A book is a fabulous learning tool and source of inspiration.
Working one on one with someone doing a project is less challenging than trying to convey yourself on paper. I try to “talk” in the books like I would talk in class.
What’s your ambition for the book Sherry Serafini’s Sensational Bead Embroidery? What would you like for it to give readers?
I would love for my book to inspire those who already know my work and have taken my classes. But I also want to grab those who haven’t tried bead embroidery yet, and let them experience the joy this type of beading can bring.
My book is very different from other beading books. While I walk readers through each project, it is not “step by step” or “bead for bead.” It completely encourages creative freedom with color choices and placement of certain beads. Patterns are not always specific.
I feel this makes it unique because no two pieces will look the same. I’d like readers to gain creative confidence while finding their own inner design voice.
We’ve had beautiful first response to the book from your peers: Marcia DeCoster, Margie Deeb, and Ann Benson previewed the book and praised it in reviews. Diane Fitzgerald‘s book review included this amazing line: “Few, if any, people throughout the course of bead history have taken beads to this thrilling new height”? What do you think of the response the book is receiving, and how do words like these make you feel?
Wow. Wow. Wow. Humbled and honored to hear the words of the beautiful artists and friends mentioned in your statement.
I find it hard to express the admiration I’ve always had for them and their work. These are people whom I have admired since I picked up my first bead. To have them speak of my work as they have moves me in a way I can’t quite describe.
I cried when I heard what Diane said.
I thank them all for their support and for being inspirations to me.
What are your professional goals now? Where would you like to go with your artistry, and what would you like to achieve?
Honestly, I’ve reached the goals I’d set for myself. In fact, it’s all kind of gone beyond anything I imagined.
I never thought I’d have the honor of working with many of the most talented artists in the beading industry, creating for some very cool clients, and now writing my own book.
Instead of grasping for new goals right away — and instead of driving myself crazy with a “What’s next?” thought — I’m enjoying the moment.
As an artist, you’re constantly growing. I like the surprises that happen along the way when creating. I also love teaching. I’ve been very fortunate.
I have been approached by several large department store chains that are interested in promoting my work. I may try that route for a while.
Do you have an underlying philosophy to your work and your life, Sherry?
My favorite quote is: “It’s the journey, not the destination.”
I create my beaded art like I live my life: experiencing the journey and not necessarily worrying about the destination.
There most certainly is no rush when creating a bead embroidered piece. You simply can’t rush it and do it well. I enjoy the process just as much as I enjoy the finished piece.
I don’t want to rush through life, either. Life is a process. Worrying about things that may or may not happen is a waste of time.
All we have is what is in front of us at this very moment. Deal with that moment.
So my chosen art form truly does mirror my thoughts on approaching life.
Do you ever need to “get away” from beading? Or is beading itself still your getaway?
It’s insane, but yes, beading is my getaway. When I’m not working on “business” beading — beading for books or classes — I’m still beading for the joy of it!
*We invite you to read other recent Lark Jewelry & Beading interviews with leading beaders, jewelers, and metalsmiths — please leave comments and let us know what you think about the artists and their work:
Laura McCabe (with project PDF)
Jamie Cloud Eakin (with project PDF)
Nathalie Mornu (with two project PDFs)