Bead Artist Gerlinde Lenz
Gerlinde Lenz is a skilled and prolific beader and bead-weaving teacher. She has developed a number of unique stitches, including Herringote, Diamond Weave, and Peyote with a Twist (also known as Peytwist). Gerlinde is generous with her time and knowledge, freely sharing both to encourage and advance other bead weavers’ skills. As a teacher, she takes great pride in enabling others.
Leaves created with Diamond Weave (pictured above).
Q: How did you get started beading?
A: I’ve started a few different times. I remember making a beaded doily for my grandmother when I was about 10. When I was a teenager, I decorated silver wirework with beads.
My beading became more serious about 30 years ago, when I discovered how to make self-supporting beaded models of the Platonic solids (tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron). My brother had soldered an icosahedral sphere for me, and I wondered whether I could copy it in beads. After experimenting for a while, I found that I could.
It was another 15 years before I discovered the wonderfully even Japanese beads, which are the perfect material for my “geometric jewels.” Since then, I’ve also found a group of people to share my hobby with. This group inspired me to develop Diamond Weave.
Q: How did you discover the Peyote with a Twist technique?
A: I love the look of bead-crocheted ropes, but I couldn’t get the hang of crocheting with beads. By the time I finally managed all of 1″, my hands hurt so badly and my progress was so slow that I gave up. But I had designed a cute flower pattern, and I had the perfect beads for it—I wondered whether there was any other way of creating such a rope.
Several of my stitch developments, such as Herringote and Diamond Weave, involve beads sitting obliquely to the main direction of the piece they make up. I noticed that the beads in the crocheted ropes I admired so much also sit obliquely. In my explorations of Diamond Weave, I had played with spirals built with an offset-coil principle, so I wondered, Why not try it with peyote? Soon, I was happily working on my first Peytwist rope.
I later found out that Huib Petersen had come up with a single-column seam method for creating a peyote-stitched tube. However, since he is a superbly gifted bead crocheter, he didn’t realize the technique’s potential for stitching bead-crochet patterns.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
A: I tend to think laterally, so when I see something I like or dislike, questions naturally arise. Very often, it is a technical challenge: Can I make a self-supporting beaded icosahedron or at least a dodecahedron? Can I stitch a bracelet with four rows of pearls sitting in a rectangular grid with a minimum of visible thread? Can I bead a bangle from zigzagging tubes? Can I bezel a square using right-angle weave? Can I bead-stitch a tube that looks like a bead-crocheted tube? Can I create internal increases and decreases in herringbone stitch, as well as within a stack and between stacks? How can I create a bezel with a maximum of crystal visibility? A leaf or petal using Diamond Weave? An orchid and other flowers? Bead caps, clasps, and bails? Spiraling ropes using Diamond Weave or the smallest possible diameter rope? An icosahedron using Diamond Weave? A bangle or a ring using Peyote with a Twist? What would bugle beads look like in Peyote with a Twist? Can I create a design that is not only attractive but also fairly easy to describe and to stitch for a class? (Um, no!)
Q: Do you plan your designs in advance, or do you just let the creativity flow?
A: I usually have an idea of something I want to figure out. Occasionally, I buy special materials that I love and then I try to find a worthy use for them. By the time I start, I have an idea about where I want a piece to go. Of course, the direction can change if something doesn’t turn out as expected.
Q: How do you approach the use of color in your designs?
A: I’m not very choosy; I generally try to find a pleasant combination among the beads I have on hand. Before Peytwist, almost all the beads I used were cylinder beads of one size. Now, almost all the beads I use are rocailles of one size. Because my nearest bead shop with a good choice of products and colors is three hours away, I typically see the colors only at fairs. I tend to select harmonizing color sets—but that’s usually long before I have a project in sight.
Q: How do you get out of a creative rut?
A: Since I’m not a professional designer, I don’t feel the need to get out of a rut. If my questions have been answered and I still want to bead, I select one of my many unfinished pieces to continue—until the next question demands an answer. However, when I want to come up with something worthy of a class, I’m simply hopeless!
For more information about the Peyote with a Twist technique, see “Stitch Pro: Peyote with a Twist” June/July 2018 Beadwork. See more of Gerlinde’s work on her Facebook page, or join her “Peyote with a Twist—Not Crochet” Facebook group.
Gerlinde’s Beading Space
Learn about Gerlinde’s beading space, which is small but functional.
Q: Where is your current beading space located?
A: It’s on a big desk in the large room that I occupy in our apartment. A room divider provides a lot of storage space, but I like to think of my bead stash as being comparatively small.
Q: How is your workspace organized?
A: It isn’t! Various plastic tubs and boxes and four small drawer storage units are on the floor and on shelves all around me. My beads are sorted by type, size, and color, which is how I can find them most quickly. Some of my finished work is sorted by type (bangle, bracelet, tubular necklace, flat necklace, rings, pendants)—but not all. And then there are a few boxes with the results of experiments, which haven’t made it into any of the other categories.
Q: What do you love about your beading space?
A: Everything I need is within easy reach, and I have a good light and a good chair. It’s right beside the computer, so while I’m waiting for data transfer, I can fill the time with a few stitches.
Q: What would you change about your studio if you could?
A: I would open the curtains to have a view outside. I can’t, because the room has large windows at street level, designed by the architect to be shop windows. My mess and I would be on exhibit to the whole world!
Q: What’s your favorite beading tool?
A: After my needle, cutter, mat, and light, it’s my glasses. Really, two pairs of them: one for regular work and one for knots.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF GERLINDE LENZ
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