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Artist profile: Sylvia Windhurst

Artist: Sylvia Windhurst
Website & Blog:
Windy River etsy shop
Windy River blog

My work is predominantly beadweaving with some embroidered and painted elements thrown in. I do a little wire wrapping, but my main focus is on beadwork. I am in love with tiny seed beads - the smaller the better. My business name is actually just a contrived name that my daughter picked out (she was 13 at the time.) I was going to use my own name but she wanted to be involved so I let her name my shop - and of course it does sound like my last name so it's not totally unrelated.

My creative process is usually me thinking in the car, while I am doing other chores etc., and I get an inspiration - I might make a quick sketch or if I can run up to my studio and see what materials I have that might work for my idea. I have tons of beads and lots of broken old jewelry that I like to take apart and use pieces from.

Sometimes I'll see a color combination somewhere that I like - like I recently bought a card with a Gustav Klimt image on the front and I loved the colors - he used a lot of golds in his painting mixed with jewel tones, and I love gold beads - as you can see from my work.

I work in silence or sometimes with a movie playing on my laptop - I just listen, don't really watch. I work for a couple hours (usually 2) each night, and as much as I can during the weekends - I do have a full time job as a graphic artist so I can't spend as much time in my studio as I might like, but I enjoy my job as well - so I feel like I have the best of both worlds.

I actually have a BFA in printmaking, which I no longer do, but I have always fooled around with sewing, embroidery and beading. When I was a kid, I used to make tiny little dolls with fancy clothes etc - I still have a box of them at home. I should try doing some more of those someday to see how my esthetic has changed.

A tool I can't live without - extra sharp scissors, lots of needles, every color of Nymo thread possible.

If I get frustrated I will look through my supplies since I often forget what is in the many tubs of beads and parts that populate my studio, and I will see something and have a moment of inspiration.

My advice to artists would be to never regret trying something - I have taken apart many projects that just weren't panning out well- and if you mess up something, move on. Yes it does stink when you ruin materials, but thankfully with small beads you're never ruining anything too expensive. I recently spilled a bunch of beads (size 15) and was able to rescue some, but I just had to vacuum a lot of them up as they were everywhere on the floor and they are so tiny. Also, I tried a new glue on a pair of bead embroidered earrings recently - I had made two beaded bezels for the Swarovski rivolis and then glued them to some suede leather with the intention of adding a nice picot edge. Well this glue was industrial strength and I should have known better, but it dried like cement and I couldn't get a needle through that leather to save my life. So then I thought, I'll just rescue the rivolis by cutting away the beaded bezels but they were stuck onto my fabric backing so well that when I tried to peel them off with a plier, I just chipped them terribly and they never did come off. So I threw the whole project away and will remember that more glue isn't necessarily a good thing and to not use that particular glue again.

Like I said, you have to move on and not get too mad at yourself - it's a constant learning process.

My favorite comfort food is chocolate of course - extra dark.

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Unknown said…
Fabulous interview! Sylvia is a good online friend and she creates so of the most beautiful pieces I've seen. The same attention goes into her customer service as well!
WindyRiver said…
Thank you for featuring me - it was an honor and very exciting to see my work on your fantastic blog. Thanks again!
Cyndi L said…
It was truly my pleasure, Sylvia!