September Designer Feature


Mandi Olaniyi


How did you find beading, and what do you feel was the “hook” that has kept you beading?

I discovered bead weaving in my teens. I absolutely loved it, but I could never quite learn it from the books I had. I did bead stringing and some wire-wrapping at the time. After I moved out on my own, I kept my beads and would sometimes glance at them. When I was about 27 years old, I decided to pull out my beads again and give bead weaving another try, because now youtube is available, someone must have a a video demo. Fire Mountain Gems had one, and voila! I learned it! I was very happy. I'm now 34 and still have been hooked ever since :)

Do you now, or have you in the past, done other forms of creative works, and if so, what mediums?

I did do some wire-wrapping in my teens, and I also used to do soldering. I made some rings and pendants with sterling silver and semi-precious stones. It was an artistic hobby then.

Who are your beading “heros” and why.

That would be Kathy King. I truly love her work. I love what she does because it's different and unexpected. We bead weavers try our best to hide the thread, but Kathy King uses bead quilling to celebrate the thread with different thread colors. I also like her work because of the flow and open spaces between the components. I try to incorporate that flow and openness in all of my works.

What's the best piece of beading advice you've received, and from whom?

That would be from Amee K Sweet McNamarra. She visited the bead store where I work (1 Stop Bead Shop) a couple of years ago, and at the time I was on the fence about teaching. She just told me to go ahead and jump right in! It wasn't so much what she said, but how she said it with such confidence and encouragement, it made me go ahead and try teaching.

Your pattern illustration – do you draw your own diagrams?  Do you use a particular program? Do you use photos?  Do you have a graphic design background?

I use Adobe Photoshop to draw my diagrams. I have used this program for over 10 years for print designing, so it was a natural choice for me to use to make my diagrams.

Is there a particular piece of beadwork or series that you are particularly proud of?  If so, why? (please include jpg(s) if possible)

I think the piece I am most proud of is my Soiree necklace. It was my first necklace design. It was the longest design I had ever come up with at the time, and the first design I came up with that really pushed the envelope on what I could do with herringbone stitch. I had a great time making that necklace and as of now I haven't been able to out do it yet, at least to me.

Do you have beading designs that feature unconventional beading materials?

No I don't. I try to design with beads that are easily accessible to anyone who wants to make my pieces.

Can you tell us a bit about your creative process, sources of inspiration, work flow, etc?

I never really thought of my creative process honestly. I just sit down in my office/bead studio, pick up a threaded needle, some beads, and see what happens. Some of my best ideas and designs just happen. The more I let the inspiration flow, the better the piece. I do prefer to listen to peaceful/mood music while beading and that sometimes inspires me.

Do you have favorite stitches?  Least favorite stitches?

My favorite stitch is herringbone! Once I learned it, I felt like there's so much more that could be done with it. It's primarily the only stitch I design with. Least favorite is brick stitch.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on a new necklace design that will feature my herringbone bezeled bicone technique. It's a design that is born out of boredom but it's turning out really well. It has kind of an Indian?Bollywood feel to it. I can't wait till I complete it.

Do you have a favorite type of thread, needles, or other supplies?

My favorite thread is fireline, preferable 6lb. It's almost as thin as 4lb, with almost the strength of 8lb, so it's happy medium.

Is there something you absolutely must have for beading or designing?

Good music, a cup of coffee or tea, some snacks nearby, and my cat curled up near me.

Where can our members view your work and find more of your patterns?

You can view more of my work at


Soiree Necklace