Thursday, March 27, 2008

Artist profile: Denise Perreault

 Tara’s Tiles, 2007. Glass curtain of 1/2″ square glass tiles in 26 colors, with crystals and seed beads. 28″ deep and 81″ wide. View from my master bath.

Artist: Denise Perreault
Location: Boulder, Colorado

Denise Perreault
Denise also has a number of articles and two covers published in Beadwork Magazine since 1999, (Interweave Press).

Denise, how do you describe your work?
I’d describe my work as contemporary folk art, since I strive for a hand-crafted, vintage appearance. That’s why I use size 11 Czech seed beads almost exclusively: those imperfect little donuts are an excellent medium for conveying a sense of naivete and humanity in my beadwork, as good folk art often does. Our home has a growing collection of contemporary and antique folk art that my husband David and 10 year-old son Dustin have been collecting on our world travels. I’m honored if my artwork brings as much delight to others as our folk art collection gives to us.

In Prince Krak’s Time, 2003. Glass curtain, 25″ long x 48″ wide. Glass seed beads and crystals on antique train ram rod.

What is your creative process like?
I do plan, but I’ll contemplate a piece for months before I put anything on paper, especially the large curtains or sculptures that can take over a year to complete. Once I have a solid idea, I’ll bead a sample, often around a small bottle, to make sure the idea is viable in beads. Then I’ll use regular and/or beading graph paper or a bead software program to create a cartoon.

Motherhood and a husband who travels for business forces me to work in spurts, often late into the night, when it’s just me and the raccoons and owls trilling outside my window near the foothills of the Rockies.

I’m fortunate that my husband is a true patron of the arts (if you get my drift), so I never mind how long a piece takes to finish — it’s all satisfying time spent beading. Perhaps this is what sets me apart from many beaders: most of us are impatient or need to complete a piece so we can jump onto the next project, but I prefer to create one big fabulous piece of beadwork, instead of many less-inspired pieces, speaking strictly for myself. That’s also what shifted my work from craftsperson to artist: when my signature pieces, the glass curtains, began to receive national exposure and recognition. I’m the only bead artist I know of creating these large beaded pictorial fabrics for windows, and it’s SO nice to finally have found my niche, after 24 years in the fiber arts world.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
My mom taught me to sew and encouraged my craftiness as a child, but I was not allowed to skitter away precious college tuition on something “frivolous” like art. So I got a journalism degree from Boston University in 1982. While new to Boulder in 1984 and working at the Boulder Daily Camera, I found a small loom at a garage sale, and immediately became hooked on the fiber arts. I took a few weaving classes and one beading class, so I guess I’m mostly self-taught. However, my son and I are constant visitors to museums and art galleries, and being exposed to many different artists and mediums keeps my mind stirring with fresh ideas.

Butchering ‘La Boheme’, 2005. Beaded sculpture over martini glass armature

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
Nymo size B beading thread, a halogen-bulb desk lamp, my large 8-shaft loom, and a pair of 3X reading glasses. Music is also a must.

What inspires you to create?
Inspirations include medieval art and architecture, historical costumes, international folk art and textiles, foreign travel, refracted light/prisms, and of course color and texture. In the end I can’t NOT create! My fingers MUST thread needles and looms — it’s my meditation, my pride and joy. A day without creativity is like a day without sunshine!

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
Tenacity serves me well in my art because it compels me to view problem-solving as a fun challenge. And when something gets too intimidating or maddening, I know that if I walk away from the problem for a time, patience, an open mind, and a fresh perspective will find a solution. Consequently, unfinished projects are rare.

Tunisian Carpet, 1999. Glass curtain(tm) made of seed beads and findings. This is the one that took 2,600 hours to complete! 14″ long x 62″ wide. Each band is a motif from the Berber carpets woven in my Tunisian village, where I served in the Peace Corps from 1992-1994.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Rudolph Steiner, founder of the Waldorf Schools, has guided me through questionable bouts of creativity with the following quote: (he used the word “man” but I don’t think he’d mind if we change that to “woman” for now):

“The woman who works with her hands is a laborer.
The woman who works with her hands and head is a craftsperson.
The woman who works with her hands and head and heart is an artist.”

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
Motherhood, gardening, writing, weaving, reading, and volunteering for a wild animal sanctuary, my large local fiber arts guild, and Dustin’s fourth-grade class. I also have a large gaggle of girlfriends who gather regularly for picnics, skiing, hiking, happy hours, and art events.

Tara’s Tiles, 2007. Night-view of tiled curtain in my master bath.

What’s your favorite books and foods?
Favorite foods: bagels and fruit
Favorite books: ooh, that’s tough because I’m a voracious reader and love so many authors. I’ve even worked my way through Radcliff University’s list of “100 Most Important Books of the 20th Century”, (though it took me almost three years to do it!) Some favorites are: Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, Notre Dame of Paris by Victor Hugo, Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger, Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Baltisar and Blimunda by Jose Saramago, and everything by Willa Cather, Anais Nin, and Thomas Wolfe.

Aspen Alley Basket, 2004. My husband found basket without wooden handles. I “repaired” with glass, wood, and plastic beads, beads from old Christmas garland, and Jamaican seeds. 11″ high x 12″ high.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How to peyote stitch a beaded bead

To make a peyote beaded bead without worrying about tension, use a lightweight resin bead as the core. I chose a pretty light purple resin bead in a drum shape, and used crystal aurora borealis size 8/0 beads so that the color of the resin would show through. It’s hard to see the pattern that I’m using on the bead above, so I made a sample bead with higher contrast so that you can see if your pattern is working up properly:

Here are the steps:

1. Pick up 1 size 8/0 seed bead and 2 size 11/0 delicas, five times. Pass the thread through all the beads again and tie a knot so that you have a tight circle of beads.

2. Pick up 1 size 8/0 and 2 size 11/0s, and pass the needle and thread through the 2 size 11/0s of the previous row. Continue, allowing the bead to spiral until it is as tall as desired. Slip the resin bead in at any point.

3. Tighten down the last row by adding only a size 8/0 and passing through the 2 size 11/0s of the previous row five times. pass through all the beads in that last row again and pull snug.

4. Work the thread back down to the bottom to tie off with the other end.

String ‘em up as you please!

Note: Here is a tutorial where I show how to string them up like this

Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Book Review: Making Metal Beads

Making Metal Beads
by Pauline Warg

This is an astounding book! Like all Lark Publications, it is filled with beautiful photographs, in this case close-ups of lovely fabricated metal beads and the steps to create them.

Warning: this is not a book on metal clay. Pauline’s book covers traditional metalsmithing techniques, so it’s not for everyone. But if you’ve ever thought that you’d like to try your hand at making metal beads from scratch (or in this case, from sheet metal!), this is the book for you. She has a brief section on doctoring up premade metal beads, giving them texture and more personality, but most of the book covers creating from the raw materials.

After covering the basics of sawing, filing, drilling, soldering, forming, and more, Pauline puts all these skills together to show you step by step how to make 40 different gorgeous beads. Some beads start with tubing, some with sheet metal, and some with wire mesh. All are stunning!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Artist Profile: Lori Greenberg

Artist: Lori Greenberg
Location: Cave Creek, Arizona

Website & Blog:
Lori Greenberg
Bead Nerd

How do you describe your work, Lori?
The tagline on my web site is “defying the ordinary”. I like to make pieces that are different than anything else you see out there and will keep you coming back to see what I’m up to next. Beads that make you want to look deeper into them or make you wonder, “How did she do that?”

I originally named my business “Bead Nerd” because that is what my husband called me when I’d be obsessively trying to learn about beads and the making of them. While looking at other beadmakers’ work I realized that I was getting to know business names but cound not remember who the actual artist was. I decide that I’d rather be known by my name than Bead Nerd so I transitioned into using my name for my business name. I still use the title Bead Nerd on my blog though because it does fit me and how I go about everything glass bead related.

What is your creative process like?
Many of my ideas come when I’m doing production work and my brain is free to wander. I cannot draw to save my life but I am constantly jotting down little notes with ideas and rough sketches. Unfortunately, I often forget to go back to them but it’s at those times that the ideas are flowing that something starts to form in my head. Up until now I’ve just made what I have felt like making and it has been good. But as I build a business and a client base, more is expected of me and I am already starting to think about next years show line and being able to show customers something new and fresh. I find that the designing process is not very enjoyable for me but I know the end results always are.

My creative process is passive. That is, if I listen to what’s inside and am obedient to that, things flow and I know what to make without a struggle. When it starts to feel like a struggle I know I’m starting to veer off the path and I need to sit back again and listen…”What do I really want to be making?” rather than, “What do I think people will want to buy?”

Right now I am making bold round beads with colorful dots and I can’t believe it. (I say that a lot because it’s almost like I don’t have control over what I make). I do not like dots. I do not like bright colors. I am known for making pressed shaped beads. So I fought it and struggled and tried to come up with something my brain was designing and it got to be so frustrating I finally said FINE! I’ll make the dang dotted round beads! And now I love them.

Music is a big part of my day in the studio and I often listen to talk programs on XM Satellite Radio’s NPR Station. I love the morning programs because they’re quirky and interesting, often about artists or people who think differently than the norm, and that inspires me to not always try to run with the pack. As for music, I’m all over the board. It depends what I need to get done that day. I listen to everything from techno jazz to country to world music and, I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but lately I’ve been listening to heavy metal. Really loud. Just like my creative process, I just have to listen to what’s inside and I’ll know what I need that day. Sometimes it’s a driving beat, sometimes it’s hokey disco dance musc.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
If any training was influential in my life it would have to be a high school teacher that I had. Mrs. Stelton. Boy, she and her husband were quite a pair and they definitely marched to the beat of a different drum. I look back and think about everything they taught us about art and architecture but also about different cultures and their art and practices. They even had a gourmet club where a group of us would go into the city (Chicago) to some really funky ethnic restaurants and eat things we’d never heard of. They taught me to be open-minded and diverse. I guess my whole high school was big on teaching kids to be individuals and not conform.

I have a couple degrees, one of them even in art, but nothing that compares to what I learned in high school.

I went from being a hobbyist to a professional in one day. I realized that I was being paid $12 an hour for a job that required a masters degree and they treated their people awfully. Some conflict came up where they demanded just one thing too many without any additional compensation and my boyfriend (later to become husband) told me, “just quit”. So I did. That was uncharacteristic of the practical me, I mean, wouldn’t just walking out look bad on a resume? But I knew it was the right thing at the time. I watched my husband and friends being successfully self-employed and they really helped me start to think differently about this whole work thing.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
You know, the more I get into this the more I find that I can make pretty nice pieces with very little. Of course you need a kiln, torch and fuel/oxygen source but other than that, a few marvers and some tweezers and I’m good. I do have to say that I love my GTT Lynx torch. I worked on a different torch last summer and nothing compares. Nothing. I also do love my XM radio.

Something I can’t imagine living without is my web site shopping cart from I can’t believe how much time I save now that I’m not coding my site manually. Wow.

What inspires you to create?
I get cranky if I don’t create. That and there is just this drive that I can’t get away from. I can’t really explain that one.

I am most inspired by people and their stories. I don’t know if I would call it inspiring but how people interact is an influence on me too. It is such a creative dance and is just interesting. That is the counselor in me. If you take the time to get to know someone or just listen to them for a little bit you learn so much. Everyone has something to say that is interesting if you open your mind and start to view the world as being interesting. Kate Drew-Wilkinson taught me that…look at the world differently. It’s amazing how your life can change if you change the way you see things. I only wish I had the skill to sculpt in glass how I see things. I’m starting to try and transition my perceptions into my art more.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
This is another area that just comes from within. When things are frustrating it is a good exercise in realizing that some things in life are just frustrating and it’s ok. But then I have to think, am I going to give in and be beaten or am I going to go with the flow until it passes? It’s
important to remember that it always passes and if you fight against it, it only gets worse.

If it does persist I will try and figure out why. Is it just time for a vacation? Do I need to get a massage? Is there something hanging over my head that I need to complete before I can move forward? It’s kind of fun to figure it out and feels like a victory when you come out the other side.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
If you are really serious, learn to listen to what is inside of you. I believe that whatever your spiritual practice is, that is where your answer is. Get in there and find it.

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
Blogging, marketing and business-related issues, of course. I absolutely love blogging and I love some aspects of marketing just as much. It’s time consuming but it’s actually a creative process too, if you let it be. It’s that whole seeing the world differently game. I love coming up with marketing ideas or new venues that I don’t see anyone else doing.

What’s your favorite comfort food?
I love Korean and Indian food. Really, anything ethnic is a hit with me.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bead embroidery techniques

Today is going to be one of those “my own opinion” posts! Please feel free to leave comments that share your favorite materials and methods for today’s topic.  And don't miss the link at the end where you can click to download a free chapter of my bead embroidery e-book, Every Bead Has a Story!

I am frequently asked for the specifics of how I make my bead-embroidered pieces. You can see examples of my bead-embroidered necklaces here. I’m totally sold on using buckram for my beading layer, rather than some of the more expensive products marketed specifically for beading. Even when I’m embroidering directly onto something like a heavy felt hat, I sometimes still use buckram or another lighter weight interfacing behind the felt. Buckram is a heavily starched woven cotton interfacing, used in millinery and belts. It’s very thin, but holds its shape well and practically never unravels. It can be painted or dyed and heat-set before beading, which is what I do in some of my work. The piece shown above uses a painted background with some rows of clear beads…it’s hard to see in the photo, but I beaded a bit more loosely than usual so that the color could show through.

Here’s another example, a non-wearable piece, where the painting on the fabric is more obvious.

Each according to their kinds

And here’s a piece where the commercial fabric that I used was backed with buckram first to keep it from drooping and puckering.

Through the Looking Glass

I buy buckram at Joann’s, in the interfacing section, and is very inexpensive! Once it is thoroughly beaded, it becomes softer under the weight of the beads so that it will drape around a neckline, but it still doesn’t tend to lose shape.

When I’m beading a piece that I know is going to end up being particularly heavy, I sometimes use an ultra-suede type of material. This is what I always use for the backing too. I am very fussy about the looks of the entire piece, so the backing is glued lightly to the buckram, and all the raw edges are beaded together to cover them completely.

Nymo thread is my choice for almost all bead embroidery. Occasionally with very heavy beads, a heavier carpet thread may be called for, but I’ve found Nymo comes in enough sizes to suit my projects. I buy large spools of black and of white Nymo in size 0, which is one of the thinner sizes. I don’t bother with colors…if I want a colored thread, I use a permanent marker and run the white nymo over it. My needles of choice are English beading needles, and I usually buy those packets that have 6 or so needles ranging from #10 through #12 or #13. The higher the number of the needle, the smaller it is, so #12s are great for beading with 11/0 seed beads. You’ll need finer needles (with higher numbers) to work with smaller beads and fresh water pearls.

So, that’s my run-down! What do you like to use the best?


Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Artist Profile: Karen Paust

Artist: Karen Paust
Business name: Take me to your Beader
Location: Wellsville Pennsylvania

Karen Paust

Karen, how do you describe your work?
I create botanical jewelry and sculpture.

What is your creative process like?
I usually am inspired by something very complicated, something that challenges me. I do a lot of sketches and watercolors as studies for pieces. I collect material, dead insects even pull moths and butterflies off the grill of the car to use as samples. I would never kill an insect, so my bug collection is a little rough. I used to bead all the time, (sometimes 8-12 hours a day, sometimes 5 or 6 or 7 days a week), now I try to balance my life with other things I love to do.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I am completely self taught as a beader, but I did study painting, and also botany before I went to art school. I have always been trying to merge my love of nature and art together. I have been creating with my hands most of my life. I have crocheted and sewed at a very early age, and knitted soon after. The beauty of beading is that it reflects how the world is made up of little pieces of energy. Then in addition the light interacts so spectacularly with glass beads.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
My eyes, I am such a color junky, it would be very hard for me to not be able to see the endless combinations of colors.

What inspires you to create?
I can be inspired by dreams, day dreams, I’m always waiting for the next vision to flood my life. In between those I usually am inspired by nature. I am constantly amazed by the color combinations and shape of very common creatures. Many people have asked me to bead orchids, just look at a thistle that grows along the railroad tracks, it is every bit as beautiful as an orchid. I like putting a spotlight on the ordinary.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
I have a strong ability to finish projects, although I have some unfinished knitting projects sitting around. If I don’t like the direction the piece is going, I usually start over or try to figure out why the momentum is waning.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Experiment as much as possible, figure out what you are passionate about.

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
Wild mushroom hunting, camping, canoeing. I also make my own knitting needles, I recyle chopsticks and turn those into needles and I make circular needles from tubing, bullets and wood. I put beads inside the tubing, and my label is Fearlessknitting. If I need a button I make it from a piece of wood. I knitted a shoulder bag with different colored mountains and a blue sky and clouds so I carved a bird button to go on the bag as its closure.

What’s your favorite comfort food?
Pesto, I could eat it every day, I make big patches of it and freeze it for the winter, not in little ice-cube trays, in good size containers. I also invent new recipes, we grow these little tart oranges so I have been putting them in the pesto, best pesto ever. I also love watermellon.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Gemstone bead suppliers

Trash City Beads

Unconventional Lapidarist

Cabbing Rough

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How to make Autumn Woods

V Pendant (available from New Terra Artifacts)
90 small glass beads, approximately 4mm, in 6-7 colors
20 larger glass beads, from 8-12mm, in similar colors
#8 gold-lined seed beads
3 gold beads, 6-8mm
2 soldered gold loops
2 pieces of .015 inch beading wire, each 2 feet long
2 gold crimps
Gold hook
2 inches of gold chain
3 headpins

Wire cutters
Flat nosed pliers
Round nosed pliers
Alligator clips
Measuring tape

1 Cut 2 pieces of beading wire to 2 feet each. Center a soldered gold loop on both pieces, and pass all four ends up through a large gold bead and a large glass bead. Split the wires, and string 2 up through each hole in the V pendant.

2 String each pair of wires through a large gold bead. String the rest of the two necklace strands, alternating between small beads and seed beads on a single wire and larger beads on both wires for about 4 to 5 inches. String both wires through several large beads, and finally through about 1/2 inch of smaller beads.

3 Create 2 dangles on headpins and make wrapped loops around the soldered ring below the V pendant.

4 Use crimps to attach the loose ends of the beading wires on one side to a soldered gold ring, and to a 2 inch piece of chain on the other side. Attach a gold hook to the ring. Create another small dangle on a headpin, and make a wrapped loop around the loose end of the chain.

Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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