Today’s guest beader is Mika of Ta Meu Bem, who creates stunning beadwork jewelry designs - including some very exciting netted broad collars. She has a flair for using bold colors and one of a kind patterns that stand out from the crowd.
Inspirational Beading: When did you first get started with jewelry design?
Mika: I began designing jewelry when I was 8 years old. My mom bought me a bag of seed beads and a loom. I took to it very quickly, and soon the sounds of beads getting sucked up by the vacuum cleaner became commonplace in my home. I couldn't put it down. It would be years before I began doing stringing. I beaded on and off until about 15 years old when I found a Michael’s by my house with an excellent seed beads section. It was like no one else bought beads there except me, so I had a field day.
Inspirational Beading: Do you remember your first piece? Where is it today?
Mika: My first piece was a loom woven bracelet. I remember it had triangles and was in a primary colors scheme. I have no idea what happened to it, seems so long ago now. I do however still have some earrings and bracelets I made about 15 years ago. These earrings are made from tiny matte Czech beads. I made a matching bracelet that’s disappeared, but the earrings remain. Back then my best friend Erin was the only person besides my mother who knew I beaded. She was, and still is a big supporter, and also a robber. “Let me borrow this you can make a new one” are words from her I’ll never forget.
Inspirational Beading: What kinds of beads and materials do you like to use the most?
Mika: I love and use only glass and gemstone beads, and I LOVE seed beads. I've recently become obsessed with vintage seed beads which I use a lot – French, Czech, African. They just don’t make some colors like they used to. If I had to delve into it, I love Czech seed beads the most. They’re the authority and continue to innovate. I actually enjoy using non-uniform seed beads as well. I've had several people chide me about it, but I think the misshapen beads add character to my pieces. I love to use this vintage silk thread that gives my necklaces this amazing lightness and drape. I’ll be sad when my stash runs out because I found it at an unbeatable price. Honorable mention to Toho because they make some of my favorite colors these days.
Inspirational Beading: Where do you look for your favorite inspiration?
Mika: The past! I am a vintage fiend. Traditional stitches - African, European, Colombian have been my biggest inspirations. The colors, the layers, the fact that a lot of them never use printed patterns leaves me in awe. Another inspiration for me is the ancient Egyptians. They loved netting (I do too), and the more pictures I find from museums and books continues to drive my work. Also, everything from the Embera tribe. They’re native Colombians and their use of color and the breadth of their pattern making will blow your mind. I’m also part of a great and supportive community on Instagram where I’m most socially active. The ideas that my clients on Instagram, especially regarding color have been my favorite projects. I can't forget that Inspirational Beading, Poé gyöngyei and NemVal are the first beading blogs I found, and definitely helped me discover what I like to do.
Inspirational Beading: What’s the most interesting or unique thing about your design process?
Mika: Color. Everything starts with color to me. I tried to write/draw patterns but I never follow them. I start with a color and work from there. I enjoy monochromatic color schemes the most, and the pieces always evolve as I go, even when I use a pattern. For the most part, although I invest in patterns and books, I rarely use them. I want to get all of this creativity that’s been laying latent in me out before I begin following more designs.
Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite color to work with?
Mika: Favorite color? GREEN, green and more green. It’s easily accessible in a plethora of hues, both seed beads and gemstones. I really like Purple too, but it’s not easily accessible in regards to seed beads.
Inspirational Beading: What are some of your other favorite materials?
Mika: Vintage stampings, fringe material and Druzy are a big part of my work. I don’t want to spread myself too thin because there’s already too few hours in the day, but I really like chainmaille and I’ll be taking my first wire-wrapping class, and first class ever, at the end of the month.
Inspirational Beading: What is the most exciting design in your shop right now? What makes it special?
Mika: Actually I’m really bad at updating my Storenvy and Etsy websites. Most of my pieces are sold through Instagram or in person at art walks and bazaars. The most exciting thing I have is coming soon! Also a large percentage of my projects are custom work, so they never make it to my websites. What makes my work special is that people always tell me it feels good to wear my jewelry, that they can feel it. You can always find me on Instagram, that’s where the magic is. It's my favorite website, and there are beaders from all walks of life there- Native, Ukrainian, Japanese, and more. We’re all there under one roof supporting each other in a way I never imagined. The community there is a big part of why I bead, they are a reflection of the passion I feel, and I’m so thankful for them.
Inspirational Beading: Who do you hope to inspire with your work?
Mika: Every person who thinks for a moment “I could never do that”. We are a sisterhood and brotherhood of beaders, it’s important never to forget that. I began doing hand woven pieces 9 months ago when I saw a girl wearing a beaded collar for the first time. I saw it and thought “I have to do that, I can’t do that. Of course I can do that!” I was lucky enough (in a way) to be unemployed at the time, so I was able to spend 5 hours or more online researching every day, and another 10-16 hours beading a day. Yes it was that serious, I literally would bead for hours on end. I wasn’t good, and I lacked direction so I worked slowly and made mistakes, many a mistake. This went on for months. I would not be swayed from my journey, and slowly but surely things began to change. I got better with the encouragement of others and my continued dedication to research. Anyone who wants to begin beading, feel free to contact me on any of my social media accounts, I’m here for us.
Inspirational Beading: Tell us a little more about you.
Mika: I’m Jamaican American and live in Southern California. I’ve been beading for 20+ years now. Ta Meu Bem (tah may-O bane) is my company that I began two years ago while living in Brazil. It is a Brazilian expression that people use when they are giving into someone, or when someone is looking particularly fierce fashion wise. My Brazilian friends are the ones who pushed me to begin selling my jewelry after goading me with comments like “did you get that from the fashion district?”, when I angrily would respond “I DID NOT” they would always say “Ta meu bem” as if to soothe me.
You can see more exciting jewelry designs by Mika by following Ta Meu Bem on Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook.
Copyright 2015 Inspirational Beading and Ta Meu Bem
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