Bead Embroidery Comes to Life with Kinga Nichols
Kinga Nichols is creating bead art that is whimsical, unique, fun, colorful, and dynamic. Her jewelry designs are also wearable and make a statement! Her latest videos, Creative Bead Embroidery 1 and 2 break down her processes of bead embroidery on precut beading medium and bead embroidery with shaped beads and fine fabrics.
Thank you for taking some time to talk with me, Kinga, and for sharing a little bit more of you with all of us!
I so enjoyed your new videos. You jam packed each section, from the type of thread you prefer for bead embroidery (NanoFil 8lb test by Berkley, low visibility green) to your beading techniques used to create your amazing designs.
BD: What are your best tips you can share based on your experience in bead embroidery?
KN: Be brave. Bead embroidery might seem daunting because it’s a lot more freeform than other types of bead weaving. Embrace the chaos! If you can think it up, you can turn it into bead embroidery.
BD: You cover your favorite tools and materials in your videos, anything else you keep in your studio that might help other beaders? Any tips to offer on these?
KN: Nothing extra special, but I must have about thirty pairs of scissors. When I find a pair that works really well and it doesn’t break the budget, I buy ten pairs of it and give it away, because good scissors make a huge difference. (In her video, Kinga shares how these Clauss fine-cut scissors are perfect thanks to their larger finger openings.)
BD: You surround yourself with cute tools and materials – I love that you bring whimsy into your surroundings and that you draw inspiration from them, and your dogs, Sammy and the latest addition to your family, Karl! Curious, did you make these fun tools yourself? Or find them from another artist? Any other tips on what to surround ourselves with that might help inspire us to create?
KN: You must be thinking about the knot goblin! It’s like an awl, great for picking pesky knots. No, I don’t make those. My friend, the talented Kristy Zgoda makes those. As for the beeswax in the tiny jewelry box, I did pour it in there, but the idea came from a lady who was in one of my classes.
BD: Your video focuses on cutting your beading foundation before beading. You mentioned you draw inspiration from images you find by searching google, which is a great tip! How do you know what shape to look for from the start, though? For example, you like fish and show the lantern fish and explain how you extrapolate what you found online to what you eventually beaded. What other shapes do you recommend or where is a good place for someone to start if they’ve never made a design like the one you showed?
KN: I suppose it all starts with thinking about what I should do next. Let’s say an upside down baby opossum, simply because the idea occurred to me watching videos about opossums. I think they are adorable beyond words. So I would look for photos of baby possums and combine them into a sketch. I always try to identify the key features of any critter I make. In the case of the opossum that would be the long pink tail and the cute long nose ending in a pink button, and perhaps the dark beady eyes. I try to make sure that these features are recognizable in the beadwork too. Focus on the most important features and make sure they show.
Or in the case of the chameleon design I have, the chameleon’s key features are the round googly eyes with the small opening and the tail that’s always curled up. So using those key features keeps the finished piece of jewelry recognizable as a chameleon even though the rest of it is really simplified.
BD: How do you know which beads will work with the cuts you make?
KN: I start with a plan. Pick out beads, know the shape I will be working with and what goes where. The whole idea of using a set shape makes everything more manageable. I visualize what the finished product will look like before I start.
You see the whole idea of working with a pre-planned shape gives you a frame work. Which is great, because you can’t accidentally alter it by adding more and more beads to it until your original idea changes to something completely different. You have more control over the finished product.
I also start with a limited color palette. There is nothing scarier than when someone tells you that” You can do anything” and you get no guidelines. I think guidelines are very useful, and sometimes working within limits is what really sets you free. Think about it this way: if someone tells you that you should write a poem and it can be about anything, you will be standing there trying to figure out what to write and how long it should be and all that. But if you are told to write a haiku, you now have a set of boundaries, and you are free to work within those and chances are it will be much easier.
BD: Anything you can share with our readers who want to embark on bead embroidery but might be hesitating and might feel your designs are too difficult for them if they are just beginning? Any successes you can share that will inspire us?
KN: This is just one way of doing bead embroidery. Everyone does it a little different. Be playful and don’t expect perfection right away. Practice, practice, practice. Everything gets easier with time. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
You can make any of my projects your own, personalize it so to speak, but I will provide you with guidelines that ensure you will succeed. Bead embroidery is somewhat freeform, but without guidelines, it can be difficult. So by planning ahead, planning the general shape of the finished piece, building a color palette, etc, you are a lot more likely to end up liking your finished piece.
And if you really want to hone your skills before you design your own piece, you can always start with a kit that has all the decisions made for you already and learn through that process.
Thank you Kinga! I know everyone will absolutely love all the details you share in your videos and I know they will love spending time with you. Thank you again for sharing so much of you and how you create your art.
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