I have always loved to see and remember understanding very early that it was my eyes drawing the pictures and not my little child hands. Today I am mostly working in beads and collages, though I still love to draw and love to see.
I first loved beads in fifth or sixth grade when "love beads," little necklaces made of seed beads, were in style with the peace-loving hippies. Somewhere I saw a necklace with a special twist: Every couple of inches a bead of a different color, and then 6 or 7 beads of yet another color had been strung, and then the needle was strung through in such a way that it made a little bead daisy. These daisies were continued to make a love bead necklace with daisies spaced through them . Simple, really, but it was a revelation to me that one could bend beads around and make a picture or a pattern. I learned how to form the daisies and spent my allowance on seed beads from a craft store. I made necklaces, bracelets and Barbie accessories with my beads. In high school I made a bracelet for myself of my own design: I used dental floss to string it because I had heard it was more sturdy than regular sewing thread. I did not want to take it off so I created it around my wrist so that it fit perfectly. Eventually the dental floss would start to break down and I would cut it off, take it apart, and remake it on my wrist. I still have this somewhere, and when I find it I will post a photo of it. Maybe I will make it again.
After high school, I went to college and majored in Art. My specialty was drawing and watercolor, and I also took ceramics, painting, calligraphy and mixed media classes. Beads didn't really have a place in the work I was doing and I stopped working with them for many years, though I always loved beaded jewelry and beaded textiles of all kinds. I eventually came to Alaska, and was enchanted by the beautiful beaded work done by Tlingit artists. I was mesmerized by the tight embroidery forming an image, like a mosaic but with those old friends of mine, tiny beads. A friend taught me the basics of bead embroidery, and eventually I found the books by Robin Atkins and from there I learned to bead intuitively (without an advanced plan) and create wearable art jewelry and other pieces. I love combining beads with vintage elements, fabrics, buttons, little slips of ephemera that conjure nostalgia for an imagined reality. My biggest piece is the Wizard of Bras piece above, which was in the 2008 Bra Dazzler Art Show here in Juneau, Alaska. It is still my most ambitious piece to date, and I loved creating it.
I will be continuing to make my beaded collage brooches and find ways to market them to lovers of wearable beaded art. I will also be participating in the 2010 Bead Journal Project, creating a new piece each month for a series of beaded work. I will share what I learn and what I do here.
I've learned that as with so many things, the biggest part of creativity is showing up and starting. I'm still pondering what size, what format, what parameters will I use for my Bead Journal pieces? I know my fellow participants are doing the same. Soon I will answer my own questions by starting and it will then be revealed to me, and here I will reveal it to you.