I certainly didn't go looking to have a love affair with beads. I was into embroidery as a preteen and took art classes in high school as a teenager, but pretty soon all those math classes took over my schedule and any kind of art was shunted aside for the more practical pursuit of getting into college and getting a good job. I attended the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, and much to the disbelief of my English major parents, I became a CPA.
Working in public accounting left no time for anything else. One birthday near my 30th, however, my Mom and Dad and Step-mom were desperate for a birthday present and so went in on a two-night class at a local bead store. For two evenings I learned the basics of beaded jewelry, earrings on a headpin, stringing and finishing a necklace and bracelet, what a bead tip is. The class price included a set of basic tools (which I still have and use today) and I had a great time those two nights. I took another class soon after at another local store, learning the usual beginner's seed bead project, brick stitch beaded earrings. I was still working like a dog, though, and beads were still an entertaining hobby that I didn't have much time to pursue.
After many years of Accounting, I found myself burnt out beyond recognition and there were those beads in my house. So I started to play with them again in earnest. I made a lot of earrings on head pins, which I now liken to my "thousand bad poems" that writers talk about as they learn to pursue their craft. In August of 1996, one of my friends bought a pair of earrings, and Treasures of the Faerie Queene was born. The name, by the way, comes from my fascination with all things medieval, and the Faerie Queene is an Arthurian literary figure - think Tatiana, the Fairy Queen in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer's Night Dream". The unusual spelling comes from that period also. I took advantage of creative license, since I certainly could not use it on my CPA business card! My pieces are not very medieval however, so I guess the medieval theme ends with the name.
I have always been attracted to abstract, mixed media pieces of art, and my work reflects that bent I think. I've only worn other artists' unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry, purchased at galleries and art festivals - I'm not a strand-of-pearls and gold hoops kind of girl. I find glass beads the most inspiring - the colors and blends and shape of glass, its fluidity and gracefulness, its clarity and softness. I am a big art glass bead lover. People like Monty Clark and Carol Fonda, Stevi Belle, John Winter, Cindy Craig, Zephyr Glass, Blue Heeler Glass - all incredible glass bead artists. And the colors and finishes they can achieve these days never ceases to pique my interest and hold my attention. Those one-of-a-kind glass beads are the backbone of my whole bead worktable. Almost all my projects start with some glorious piece of glass, supplemented with Venetian glass or Czech glass or Japanese glass seed beads or Swarovski crystals - you get the picture.
I love to work in theme colors, meaning that when I start a project, I go through the whole worktable looking for all the beads that fit that color scheme before I start. They may not all get used in the project, but they set the tone for where the piece will end up when it's finished. And I like my pieces to have a balance to them, not necessarily symmetrical balance, but balance none the less. Maybe it's a balance of shapes or colors, or maybe it is just a balance of weight. The right term may actually be "counter-balanced". All elements of the piece are counter-balanced by some other element of the piece. And I love working on dense pieces, a necklace or a bracelet that has tons of beads, lots going on. I find that density very visually appealing. My friends consider me a girly girl, and my pieces are certainly reflect that - they are dense, but delicate, colorful, but blended, busy but balanced, and of course, feminine. I certainly don't focus on creating a feminine piece as the goal, but I usually end up there, instinctually I guess. I think the glass has a lot to do with it myself....
By now I have amassed quite a collection of handmade glass beads by various bead artists and can never seem to have enough of them. I find that I never get bored when I have beads in my hands, and the time just flies by. I love being so focused on what I'm beading that all else fades to the background. I am a member of the Houston Bead Society and enjoy this community of beaders very much. I also teach in various places in Texas, which gives me the wonderful task of talking incessantly about beads - I could not be happier!
I currently show pieces at the Fleury Gallery in Houston, and I have many shows on the schedule for the coming year. See my calendar for details and a complete list of shows and teaching engagements.
I think the highlight of my beading career so far has been the acceptance of a set of project instructions for "Splash!" (a bracelet project) by Bead & Button Magazine published in the August, 2003 issue. The next big event for me is application to the Artist-in-Residence program at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Wish me luck in getting accepted!