How did you find beading, and what do you feel was the ďhookĒ that has kept you beading?
I guess my start in beading was when I was a child. I used to make beaded lizards and other animals and play with them in place of dolls. I also did a little bit of weaving on a loom as a child. Fast forward a decade and I was a first-time mom to my oldest child, just feeling like I needed something that was just for me since I was sacrificing so much of myself and my own wants for everyone else. So I turned back to beading. I tried bead weaving first, and that was okay. Then while looking for new techniques to learn, I stumbled across some beaded calla lilies done in the French Beading method and I fell in love instantly. The hook that has kept me beading is that feeling of triumph after youíve fought through a challenging project and you finally get to see your vision come together. I figured out early on while learning French Beading that I get more out of it when I design my own flowers, rather than working from patterns. I thrive on the challenge, the lessons learned from failures, and the boost in confidence when I solve a problem. Plus, beads are shiny and mesmerizing, so theyíre a hook all on their own.
Do you now, or have you in the past, done other forms of creative works, and if so, what†mediums?
Before I took up beading, I tried to do gourd crafting - carving, wood burning, and painting them to make vases and bowls. I was never all that good at it, but it was fun! Just hard to do with small children so I havenít been able to do it in years.
Iíve also started weaving on a loom again, and I am starting to produce my own designs for that as well.
And I cross stitch a little bit here and there.
Who are your beading ďherosĒ and why.
Donna Dickt - since her book was the first one I owned that made French Beading make perfect sense. Fen Li - because she can turn even simple French Beading techniques into something elegant and magnificent, and because sheís willing to push the boundaries a bit to innovate. Svetlana Sapagina - because of her command of techniques and amazing ability to create realistic flowers. Suzanne Steffenson - who has a generous spirit in sharing ideas and encouraging others, including myself.
Your pattern illustration Ė do you draw your own diagrams? Do you use a particular program?
Do you use photos? Do you have a graphic design background?
Itís difficult to make accurate diagrams for French Beading components, and because the flowers are 3D, itís much easier to demonstrate with photos. So I get to take hundreds of photos for each pattern, figure out which ones are the best, then edit. I donít have a background in graphic design, but Iíve had to learn a bit to edit photos and create pattern and book layouts. I have a great deal of respect for those in that field. Itís not as easy as it looks.
Is there a particular piece of beadwork or series that you are particularly proud of? If so,
why? (please include jpg(s) if possible)
The series that Iím (currently) most proud of is my Christmas Collection of French Beading designs. Those designs were made for my very first book, which was a huge accomplishment for me. I keep the pieces I made for the book out all year long.
Iím also very proud of my 2018 One-a-Day project, which was a color wheel wreath. I made one piece each day for a whole year. Itís enormous! It gave me so many opportunities to just play and test new ideas. And it taught me patience.
The wedding bouquets that Iíve made are also some of my favorite pieces.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process, sources of inspiration, work flow, etc?
Since I make flowers, most of my inspiration comes from nature. Wherever we go, either on vacation or up the mountain nearby, Iím always looking for flowers. And when I find them I photograph them, and, if allowed, I take samples to dissect and study. Iíve attempted to garden so I can grow my own specimen to study. Iíve only had marginal success so far, but Iíll get there!
Whenever I can get my hands on flowers, I take them apart. I photograph the dissection and measure and trace all of the pieces into a flower study journal. This is an important part of design as it helps me get the sizes and shapes correct, as well as see how all the pieces of a natural flower connect. If I canít get live samples, I have to recreate flowers from photographs or botanical illustrations. While studying I can get a pretty good idea of which techniques to use to get the right shapes, so I can then move on to testing my ideas with beads and wire. This is one of my favorite parts, even though it can be frustrating. Itís always a thrill when ideas work out the first try, but sometimes it takes many tries and endless adjustments to get exactly what Iím looking for. But I love every minute of it!
Do you have favorite stitches? Least favorite stitches?
I donít have a favorite French Beading technique, because they are all valuable and useful. Just like tools, thereís a time and place for each of them. They each have a job to do. That said, I am a bit biased toward Continuous Basic Frame, since that is a technique that I invented. While I do have some less favorite techniques, I am willing to deal with all of them if thatís the best way to create what Iím making. Split-loop is one that is lower down on my list of favorites, but it comes in handy. Lacing is not pleasant, but it is necessary, so lacing and I have come to a mutual understanding.
What are you working on now?
My sanity! Kidding, I just have a lot of projects right now. Iím currently working on three books. The first one is a complete Beginnerís Course for learning French Beading. Itís mostly a reference and technique teaching book, that has a few practice patterns. That course also has video demonstrations for every technique lesson and flower. That one will be published by the end of the year. The second is a book that will teach a specific project - a huge one-a-day Christmas Wreath that Iíve been making all year, one piece each day. That one should be out in January/February. The third is my Spring Collection of designs, which will be sometime next year. Most of those designs are still in the studying/prototype phase. :)
Do you have a favorite type of thread, needles, or other supplies?
My favorite wire to work with is Parawire. My favorite beads are seed beads. I use a mix of Preciosa Czech, Miyuki rounds, TOHO rounds, and Matsuno.
Is there something you absolutely must have for beading or designing?
For French Beading I must have a bead spinner. Preferably several of them. For designing, Iíd have to say my design and flower study journals.
Where can our members view your work and find more of your patterns?
My website has my full collection of patterns, all of my Learn French Beading lessons, and my portfolio - BeadandBlossom.com. I do also have an Etsy Shop - BeadandBlossomDesign.etsy.com, though there are some patterns that I canít put in that shop, specifically my free patterns and Beaded Berry Collection - which was a design collaboration that Etsy doesnít allow.