Above and Beyond Beading

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“Coral Foam”– Ceramic centerpiece by Eunhee Lee

Hello again. It’s Story Time!

I have always had a passion for sewing and embroidery, knitting and crocheting, weaving, felting, dyeing, and . . . well, you get the idea. But of all the fashion-related crafts, I think that beading has always fascinated me the most because it’s a building process: You have to layer and construct and you can create so much dimension and texture that results in this really solid, 3-dimensional object. And since I have neither the resources nor the bravery for crafts such as metal-working, carving, or glass-blowing (all of which I have tried) beading was my only connection to truly multi-dimensional objects (not including stuffed toys.)

So I can actually remember the first moment that beading caught my eye. In fact, I still have the exact object which inspired that interest; it’s a bead doll bracelet from a Native American Old West re-enactment village. Until that moment, I had only ever woven ugly, green lizards out of those huge, plastic beads for kids, but suddenly here was this delicate, intricate, dimensional (did I mention how important that was to me?) doll. I can still remember that exact moment as I studied every miniature detail carefully. I felt my eyes go vacant (as they tend to do) as all of my brain energy was exerted toward two thoughts: “I could do this” and “I must have it!”

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“Lilyfly”

I bought the doll and brought it home as my reverse-engineering experiment began. Now, I was somewhere between 6 and 8 years old, so the world was not the open book for me that it is today. I did not know that there were websites and books and websites-where-you-could-order-books that would tell me literally everything I could ever not need to know about this subject. Yet in my determination, I pressed on, studying every inch of this precious treasure to learn its secrets. (I should take this time to point out that this is also the same child who created a miniature “copy machine” out of paper — which involved two tiny rows of paper taped onto a sheet of bigger paper where crappy flower drawings were traced obsessive-compulsively — because she wanted to “experience the copying process.” Needless to say, I studied animation my first year in college. But more to the point, I just preferred to do things the hard way.)

I bought some beads; I experimented. I prevailed.

Then I got distracted.

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“Gardener’s Trove”

So here I am ten or fifteen years later, actually attempting to make progress on that success. A couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to start selling my work at my school’s art sale, and I began to make stuff. Some of that stuff ended up being beaded jewelry. Then a woman named Eunhee Lee (a fabulous ceramic artist) approached me about doing a collaboration and improving my work, and I said: “Absolutely!” and thus began our spectacular adventure.

These days, I am waist deep in beads and sparkly things at all times when I’m not pursuing twenty-seven other projects and generally having the attention span of a chicken wing (as evidenced by this blog.) And I’m very proud of the work that I’m doing — not because it usually turns out that great, but because I can see the drastic improvement with every piece. It may have taken months of mediocre work to even start enjoying the process, but in the end that’s what really counts, I think.

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