Confessions of a Bead Snob

It wasn't until I had been working with beads for some time that I realized I was a bead snob. Until that shock, I just thought I had the best of preferences.

Since then, I've learned that there is nothing more healthful for me, as a creative artist, than to get out
of a familiar media from time-to-time. That is, by experiencing other venues and materials, particularly
by viewing others' work and their passion for it,
my own growth can have value unexpected.

I've come to this epiphany by both hard and gentle teachers, through loss of valuable beads when other beading materials would have been better suited and through exposure where a creative light popped on in
a completely foreign arena. More daring confession is my attitude now in experimentation and observation of creative venues which may not be initially provocative. I've learned that a new media can force a chink in complacency and open a world of creativity.

My confession: A Queen's ransom in costly Swarovski was lost on a costume train that was, of course, dragged about on the stage night after night. The dancers complained of bruising from my "authentic" brass delliebobs banging their knees with every step. And, I lost a substantial investment in semi-precious stones learning to ski in my bead-embroidered cold-weather gear. I clearly needed to rethink perception, use, and illusion.

Then came the decorator explaining how her acrylic bead fringe (great colors), could go right in the washing machine (with care: if a washable fabric, turn inside out and drip dry. And ALWAYS test first before making a large investment of time or money). With the lighter weight and durability suddenly beads replaced bullion fringe on that antebellum gown. A whole chorus line of flippy bead-fringed flapper dresses suddenly became practical with acrylic or glass seed bead) fringe by the yard. And pearls, glorious pearls, in glass, ceramic, and yes (dare I say it?) plastic, began to adorn fantasy clothing in new ways, that reserved the most delicate and irreplaceable about the face and the most durable about the hem.

My confession: I love the sparkle of Swarovski crystals. But under stage lights, or even the half light of a social dance floor, there are other facets or finishes that also serve.
My dance partner is not going to be wearing a lupe, and my irridencent cotton dance togs, heavily embroidered with beads can be cleaned without mortgaging the house (fabrics must be prewashed, always test a beaded sample first; turn the cotton garment inside out, put in a net bag so not to be yanked about in the washer, then drip dry. Press lightly, if at all, with the bead-side face down in a terry towel).

I have an extraordinary number of examples like this that have catapulted my own learning, allow me to add just one more confession.

Those of us with loved ones involved in their own pursuits no doubt cheerfully (endure) events outside their own interests. Consider me, a bead and fabric fanatic, attending an all day show on fishing equipment (sigh).
I knew more about the flannel fabrics worn by show attendees than fishing gear. To demonstrate support,
I stayed upbeat while listening to the totally foreign aspects of what looked to me to be acres of exactly the same fishing pole. To my surprise, doing so actually brought my hoity toity nose back to earth as I shocked myself
with my full engagement at the demonstrations of tying fishing lures!

These are bits of feathers, beads and weights attached to a hook to resemble a fly, or other species, in which a fish might take interest. The beads and knots certainly got my attention, and opened a new world of researching and experimenting with featherwork, and knotting found objects into my designs.

At the fly casting demonstrations, the arch and fly of the fishing pole's line seemed to me a perfect string of beads to be couched to an evening coat. The fishermen & fisherwomen used their arms' full range of motion to cast their line back, up, out, and over the pool for greatest length and accurate placement in water otherwise undisturbed. I marveled at their skill, and the shape of that cast line made it into my couched thread designs for weeks.

My confession: I newly learned there are inspirations for art everywhere.
My pretensions regarding the materials I use in my beadwork have adjusted significantly. I love quality goods, now I know there are many qualities available for creativity. I also learned to have greater respect for someone else's passion, and recognize that besides supporting others' interests, there may be values I should welcome into my own art.

I'm not really sure how I'll utilize my next fish out of water event (forgive me, pun intended); but I'm bringing my sketchbook nonetheless. I hope the epiphanies of my own pretentiousness will encourage you to play with new materials in your bead craft.

Meanwhile, you can find me at dawn with my borrowed, weighted, hook-less, fly rod at the city casting pools feeling my beads fly across the fabric.

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