Artist Spotlight: Melinda Barta

I have long admired Melinda Barta. Not only for her editorial expertise but also for her beading prowess. No matter the stitch, Melinda has the perfect touch to get the beads to yield to her needle and thread, creating beautiful designs.

melinda barta mug

It’s my honor to have Melinda as my first interviewee for Beading Daily. Thank you Melinda for taking the time to chat.

Here are notes from our Q&A session:

BD: Melinda, when did you first learn to bead? And what was your favorite stitch out of the gate?

MB:  I vividly remember studying the thread path of a daisy-chain bracelet when I was about 8 or 9 years old and then making several of my own on a family road trip. It must have made an impression if I can remember it so well! While pursuing my fiber arts degree in college I did a lot of bead embroidery, then fell in love in peyote stitch shortly after. I also have fond memories of going to a bookstore to read Beadwork in high school, so I’m honored to be the editor today.

BD: Many of us have tried peyote stitch before and some have given up before completing the first few rows, as they can be challenging! Can you share any frustrations you might’ve had when first learning peyote stitch? Any tricks to getting over the frustration hurdle?

MB: Yes, the first few rows and rounds of peyote stitch can be frustrating and, sadly, many people give up there. If you can stick with it and make it to rows 3 and 4, you’ll see the magic of peyote stitch and be hooked for life! Here’s one trick for starting out (I offer more tips in my new ebook The Peyote Stitch Companion).

Needle hold illo

If you feel your starting rows are a jumbled mess, you can temporarily hold the beads of Row 1 on a secondary needle. To try this, string an even number of beads for Rows 1 and 2, then weave an extra needle through the second bead strung and every other bead that follows. Now the beads of Row 2 sit on top of the needle, making it easier to work Row 3.

BD: When setting time aside to bead, after work and after putting your little ones to bed, do you always turn to beadweaving or do you enjoy other crafts as well?

MB: Beadweaving is the best way for me to unwind from a hectic day. Each stitch is soothingly methodical and once I get cruising on a project, I can sneak in a movie as I work. I aspire to one day have a studio that allows me to quilt at night, but in my current set up my sewing machine would wake up my kids!

Melinda's Seeds and Stones Necklace

Melinda’s Seeds and Stones Necklace

BD: I’m a wannabe studio voyeur and love to know how people contain their bead stash. Since we can’t just stop by your studio, can you share your favorite container for corralling your beads?

MB: I converted my studio into a nursery when my daughter was born, so the bead trays and boxes scattered around my office and garage aren’t anything to envy. However, the 10-drawer cabinet that houses my seed beads has been a lifesaver—each color family has its own place, and now my growing collections of shaped beads are starting to get their own drawers.

BD: I just finished reading through your latest eBook, The Peyote Stitch Companion, and am anxious to get stitching with some beads! Thank you for sharing so many great tips and tricks along the pages. I definitely need to practice some of these stitches and am so glad to have your guidance. Any hints on what you might have coming out next?

MB: Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I understand that everyone learns differently—some love to be shown how to do something, others prefer reading instructions, and some only need illustrations. I love to teach and in order to cater to all learning styles, I have 2 new DVDs on peyote stitch that will be revealed soon.

From the "Making and Attaching Clasps" section of The Peyote Stitch Companion

From the “Making and Attaching Clasps” section of The Peyote Stitch Companion

Thank you again, Melinda. It was great to spend some time with you and as always, thank you for all you share. You are an inspiration!

Has Melinda inspired you to create something with peyote stitch? Or has she inspired you with some other wonderful technique? Please share your designs with us on the blog. We’d all love to be inspired by you!

Until next time, happy beading!


Tammy Honaman, editor

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