About Bead Embroidery

Bead embroidery combines my love of shiny beads with my love of fabric and although it takes a very long time to complete anything I find that if you allow the house to descend into complete chaos you can get quite a bit of bead embroidery done.

I've found two bead artists who have really inspired me. They have different styles but are both great believers in allowing your creativity free rein. The first one I found is Robin Atkins. She has a website here and a blog here.  She has produced a great little book which you can get in a free pdf called 'One bead at a time.' Robin has kindly allowed me to include some photos of her work so here are my favourites.

This one is called 'Mountains and Streams' and I love the clear lines and the different textures.

This one is called 'Moss and Wildflowers' and again I love the textures and earthy colours.

Robin tends to cover every inch of the fabric and although these two pieces are both landscape inspired she produces a much wider variety of work than I have shown here. Check out her website at Robin Atkins - Bead Artist.

The second artist I found who really spoke to me was Nancy Smeltzer. She makes beaded art quilts and her artworks tend to be large and abstract. She allows the fabric to show through as part of the final work and because the work is quilted there is a depth and richness to the final pieces. She has also allowed me to include examples of her work here. There are lots I could have chosen but here are three of my favourites.

This one is called 'Diving Deep into the Stream of Love and Connections.' It's big - 27" x 32.5"

This one is 'Elements - Spirit' and is part of a series inspired by the elements.

And this is a close up showing detail from the quilt entitled 'Angels of Darkness, Angels of Light.'  

Apart from the fact that they both produce wonderful beaded art, Nancy and Robin have two other things in common which I love. Firstly, they are both willing to share their expertise with others. Their blogs and websites (click on any of the links above) are full of photos and information about how they design and produce their work as well as where they get their inspiration from. I have already mentioned Robin's pdf which is a great introduction to bead art. If you sign up to Nancy's mailing list you will be sent a free tutorial on experiments with primary colours which I found very useful.

The second thing which Robin and Nancy have in common is that they both have a strong spiritual element to their work. It's difficult to summarise in a few sentences but it's worth reading their blogs as each of them describes how the act of creating and beading have helped them emotionally and spiritually. This echoes my experience as I find that beading can feel like a form of meditation and I'm sure my own designs are influenced by the thoughts and experiences that are foremost in my life when I am creating them.

Just to finish off this page I'm going to take the liberty of including a picture of one of my own early pieces. I say early - it's actually the last one I finished but since I'm new to this game I don't have many others to show!

'Under the Apple Boughs'

1 comment:

  1. What a fabulous post, Steph!!!! I am flattered by your remarks about my work and process, and very pleased that you understand about the spiritual connection this work brings into my life. Also, thanks for posting the link to my free download book, "One Bead at a Time." It's a great honor to me to know people who have used it to get started. Wow! Since I was not familiar with Nancy's work (and love what you have shown of it), I'm off now to visit her website! Your work, Under the Apple Boughs, is compelling and technically excellent. If this is your first, you are going to be a force in the the bead embroidery world!!!