The line between bead lovers and bead horders can be very thin – if it exists at all – and there’s no doubt that bead embroidery is one of the best techniques for sustaining our obsession. No matter what your favorite materials are, there’s an application for them in bead embroidery.
Today’s guest is Ann of Soulshine Studio bead shop in Corning, New York. Her bead embroidery designs feature a gorgeous array of unique materials such as shibori ribbon, cabs, drops and unique focal pieces.
Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite beading or jewelry technique?
Ann: My absolute favorite technique is bead embroidery. I love it so much, I dream about new projects, and I have piles of beads that are intended for specific ideas - who knows if I'll ever get to all of them? I look at my projects like paintings, the beads are paint. Bead size, color, finish - they're all important to the outcome. Where the beads are placed in relation to each other is key to a good design. Placement can change the look of the beads, and eventually the look of the whole piece.
Inspirational Beading: How did you first learn to do this technique?
Ann: I learned on my own. I saw pieces that others had made, and I wanted to try. I really didn't know what I was doing, so my first attempts were a bit wobbly. I borrowed books from the library, and learned so much! I then purchased a couple of books to use as reference, one by Margie Deeb about color theory, and one by Sherri Serafini and Heidi Kummli on bead embroidery techniques. I still have those - they're well worn! Last year I went to the Colorado Bead Retreat and took workshops by Sherri and Heidi, and I learned so much more! It was thrilling to meet them, and to ask quesions specific to my own work. They both helped me grow, and my beadwork is better today for having had the chance to speak with them, show them my work, and get honest feedback. I would recommend taking a class or workshops with teachers that you admire. It's a great way to learn more not only about the technical aspect, but also about your own work and style.
Inspirational Beading: Of all the creations you've made with this technique, which one is your favorite?
Ann: My absolute favorite is the 'King Hummingbird' cuff bracelet. I love the colorway: the gunmetal and black and grey. I love the textures. The flow of the shibori ribbon I used in the cuff just seemed so natural as it all came together. It practically made itself, and it sold almost immediately. I had posted it on Facebook, and I had a request for it the day after it sold, so I made another quite similar to it. One of these days, I'll make one for me!
Inspirational Beading: Can you share any tips for getting started?
Ann: Jump in! Just try it, really. So many people say they don't think they could ever do it, and I thought the same thing before I tried it. Find a 2-3 inch stone or cabochon that you love, go to the library or online and read up on some pointers, then go for it. And remember that practice makes perfect. Using thread means working with tension, not just in beadweaving but bead embroidery as well. The direction you point your needle when you sew, where you place the needle in relation to the beads, all of these things are important and make a difference. You should understand that only by doing will you learn.
Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite material or color to use it with?
Ann: My favorite colors seem to be dark. Gunmetal, antique bronze, antique copper mixed with deep jewel tones are my go to colors. I feel like they're mysterious, they create tension and depth. I've recently started using shibori ribbon as well, which I adore. The folds of the silk, the variations in each piece, the flow of the colors into one another all add wonderful texture to bead embroidery pieces. Midnight Borealis is my favorite color of shibori ribbon - it's a deep grey dyed over with deep green, blue, and purple. Perfect!
Inspirational Beading: If someone had to choose to learn only one technique, would you recommend this one?
Ann: I would absolutely recommend learning bead embroidery. It's versatile. You can take your piece in any direction you choose. With so many styles of beads on the market today, you could make the same piece using different beads over and over, and come out with totally unique pieces. Adding shibori ribbon or lampwork focal beads or Swarovski crystals will add variety as well. You could make earrings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, headbands, barrettes, rings, tapestries...the possibilities are endless.
Inspirational Beading: What is your least favorite thing about working with this technique?
Ann: My least favorite thing about working with this technique is the time it takes. I have so many ideas, so many things that I want to create, and because of the size of the beads, they take hours and hours. A cuff bracelet typically takes 20 hours, earrings can take 4-5 hours. My biggest piece took about 50 hours.
You can see more of Ann’s bead embroidery creations at her Etsy shop and bead store website, Soulshine Studio. For more inspiration, follow the store on Facebook
Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading and Soulshine Studio
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