Do you have a friend that completely understands, fosters, and challenges your creative endeavors? I am lucky enough to have a Partner in Beads – my buddy Kelly. We met online, in a facebook bead group several years ago. After chatting a few times, we realized that we lived only an hour and a half from each other…and that she hadn’t been to the bead store I worked at yet. A few weeks later she made the drive down and brought a selection of her work to show off at the store – what a way to meet your PiB:
|A sampling of Kelly’s earlier work. Can you tell she liked epic collars?|
I had brought a basket of work to show her too, and we spent over an hour looking at and talking about beadwork. We’re both close to the same age, and have been beading for about the same amount of time – it was awesome for both of us to meet another beader with similar tastes and at the same skill level.
|Left, Kelly’s early netted amulet bags, right Lindsay’s early brickstitch amulet bags.|
We have so many similarities about our beadwork history – look at these amulet bags! These were some of the first projects we each made, and all of our female relatives have at least one or two. We are both self taught – learning our basic techniques and projects from magazines and books. For Kelly, it started when she saw a project in a magazine that she wanted to wear, so she decided to learn how to bead in order to make her own jewelry. I had been casually beading for several years, when I saw an epic freeform necklace on the cover of a magazine – and wanted to learn how to bead in order to make pieces like that. In talking about this, we realized that we bead for completely different reasons… Product vs. Process – Kelly achieves zen-like satisfaction when she finishes a piece…and I find my meditative state in the middle of the creative process. It’s not that I don’t want the end product…but as soon as I finish a piece, I start the next one.
|This black, white and red Venetian glass bead was a gift to me from Kelly, issued as a challenge to get out of my typical color comfort zone. Still a WIP, someday she will have a flamenco skirt…|
Even with our completely different approaches we have a great time working together. We talk about our creative struggles – we ask for criticism and ideas when we are stuck. It is so incredibly valuable to have a friend that understands what we’re doing on every level. We bounce ideas off each other all the time – we each understand that the idea may not be used in its entirety, and it may not be accepted at all…but any idea given has the potential to get the other person’s creative juices flowing in a new direction. I love asking “why isn’t this working” or “what is this missing”…sometimes it’s color or texture, sometimes it’s an unrelated material, and sometimes it’s just another rummage through the boxes to find a different accent bead…but I wouldn’t be able to come up with the solution as easily without my PiB.
|Kelly also makes some really cool copper jewelry in collaboration with her mom.|
We each have different struggles. Kelly tends to get too caught up in thinking about how to make things work, and gets frustrated when they don’t. I have a tendency to get morose or caught up in “life” and loose my muse. Each time we get together or Skype we are both so inspired by the conversation that we are ready to create again. We have different styles – hers more symmetrical and geometric, mine more organic and conceptual. We have different tastes in color, different preferences in techniques, different preferences in materials, and similar but different core inspirations.
|A selection of jewelry Kelly has made since we met…see any changes in her work?|
Our work has grown so much since our first meeting. Kelly was just starting to really define her own personal style and come up with her own designs. She has become much more experimental with color and material choices, as well as moving towards some more asymmetrical work. Coaching her through this growth has been incredibly helpful for me – I’ve grown much more confident in my articulation of design and technique. Both of us have opened creative doors for the other – to using new materials and techniques, we challenge each other’s color preferences, and we are constantly mailing beads back and forth to share the beadlove.
|A selection of our collaboration WIP’s.|
We each end up with plenty of UFO’s and WIP because of our individual working styles. Kelly will often get frustrated in the middle of a piece and never finish a project. I have a tendency to float around from project to project experimenting until something works…then all of the pieces that didn’t work out go into my UFO box. The best thing we do as PiB’s is to swap components with the other person. These could be anything from pieces of a project that never progressed to completion, or little snippets of experimental stitching. We then combine our own components with the other person’s and assemble jewelry from the pieces. After a piece is completed, it gets mailed back to the person who made the original components.
|Collaborative Vines neckpiece – Kelly had originally made all of the ropes and other components with other projects in mind, but never finished those ideas. I combined all of these separate pieces into one epic junglescape. Collaboration is fun!|