Bead Embroidery Artist Kinga Nichols Shares Her Perspective of the World

Bead embroidery headdress made by beading artist Kinga NicholsArtist Kinga Nichols certainly has a unique perspective of the world, especially the beading world. As an expert in bead embroidery, she has recently filmed a five course series on Advanced Bead Embroidery with Interweave, featuring courses on finishing touches, closures, troubleshooting, 3D layering, and bezeling unusually shaped focals. Learn a little bit more about the artist and her unique inspiration in this interview!

Jill: Can you please describe yourself and your work?

Kinga: I am a maker of things that give me joy and also a maker of things that transpire by seeing, smelling, and feeling the world around me. I create my imaginings out of beads, mostly in the form of bead embroidery. It hasn’t always been beads, used to be paint, and who knows what the future brings. I’m a constant maker-thinker-learner-reader-lover. Due to equal amounts of good fortune and hard work I get to make a living on my art by sharing my designs with bead addicts worldwide.

J: Why do you do what you do?

K: I create, therefore I am.

Bead embroidery artist Kinga Nichols

J: What would you consider your specialty as far as your process goes?

K: I suppose it would be looking at things sideways, trying to find the magic hiding in everything. Juxtaposing unexpected materials, telling stories with beads.

J: Can you please describe a real life experience that inspired you?

K: My trusted canine sidekick, Samantha Regina Nichols is always an inspiration. She enjoys chasing fish in her local swimming hole, sometimes twice a day in the summer. She is a boxer and they aren’t much known for aquatic pursuits, but she never got the memo. She paddles along next to the fish without hurting them. Swimming with the fishies is one of her favorite things in the whole wide world.

One day I thought, how nice would it be to provide her with her own pond filled with orange goldfish. I live in an apartment and the goldfish pond will simply not fit the balcony, but I made a giant necklace with orange goldfish, and they all had Sammy’s under bite. Because an under bite is the most beautiful feature in the universe. This is something I learned throughout belonging to Sammy. But because of this most precious feature I also find the Predator (from the movies) entirely adorable. So Sammy inspired a number or Predator themed bracelets as well. Sammy of course has always modeled my work. These days she is a mature princess with 63 dog years in the modeling industry.

Bead embroidery design made by beading artist Kinga Nichols

J: What is your favorite part of your work and why?

K: Coming up with new designs. It’s the most fun. I get to sit on my butt, listen to audiobooks and brainstorm. Who would not love that?

J: What part of your job as a jewelry artist is your least favorite and why?

K: Accounting. The way I feel about accounting is the way Sammy feels about bathing. I know I must, but REALLY?!

J: What does failure mean to you?

K: Sometimes designs don’t work. When that happens, I toss them, don’t dwell on them, don’t try to save them and reinvent them, move on.

J: Can you please describe what success means to you?

K: Waking up every day content with my life choices and having no regrets.

J: What is something we may not know about you?

K: I think a lot.

J: What is the best piece of advice someone has ever given you? This does not have to be work related.

K: My godfather bought me a Hungarian–English dictionary when I was ten. On the first page he wrote the following: “Knowledge is power. Study avidly.” He died not soon after. It is the most important thing because one must keep on learning and growing, or boredom and an aging of the mind sets in. Stay curious, keep asking questions and grow until you die. Like a fish or a tree. They don’t stop growing. Humans sometimes do, except for our noses and ears of course…

J: What career project do you consider your biggest accomplishment to date?

K: It so happens my biggest accomplishment is not only my own but also something that made me genuinely satisfied. A lovely lady who took a class from me won her state fair with the class project. I pondered this marvel: I was able to create a pleasing design that was successful and many people took this class all over the country, signing up for it based on a picture. It takes much longer to finish the project than a day long class. So I was able to create something that’s a pleasing design to look at, the pictures were interesting enough for this talented beader to sign up for the class in Alaska. The project was good enough to finish, and she found her finished bracelet pleasing enough to enter it into the state fair, and the judges gave her first prize because they found merit in her work and design above all else submitted.

It’s one thing to create a one of a kind awesome art piece. I’m good at that, but that was just the beginning of my job as a beading teacher. When I realized how many things had to happen for this to come to pass, I felt immensely pleased with myself. So yeah, I would consider this my biggest accomplishment.

Bead embroidery design made by beading artist Kinga Nichols

J: Please name one key thing you do every workday that helps you be successful?

K: I’m consistent with my efforts. Every single day. I have a dream job, but sometimes it requires un-dreamy hours and a lot of perseverance. Consistency of effort is key to anyone’s success at anything. And not doubting myself too much. There are always things to be done. Do them, don’t dillydally.

J: What were some of the unexpected hurdles in your career as a jewelry artist?

K: Accounting. My husband always wants to make me Excel sheets to “dump all my data in there.” I’m allergic to excel sheets I think. I deal with it, but I would much rather clean the whole place first, take the pups out, go to the dentist, really anything else. It causes me a severe case of procrastinitus.

J: What were some of the unexpected benefits in your career as jewelry artist?

K: Traveling an awful lot. I have a serious case of wanderlust.

J: What valuable piece of advice can you give to our readers who are aspiring to make a living off their jewelry making?

K: You know the people who mean well and offer you “exposure” for your time and work? Don’t do it. Value your own work and ask a fair price for your goods, because it’s still a business and you will get burned out real quick if you are not getting paid. Don’t ever take criticism personally. It’s either useful because you learn from it, or it’s petty, and in that case shake it off. Find your inner voice, have a style, invest time in your art before you decide you want to change careers. Sometimes it takes years to build a business on the side before you can quit your day job. I know it did for me. Be like the little engine that could, and go for it, consistently, day by day, chug up that hill, hill after hill and remember, there is no crying in baseball. Or jewelry making. Be a tough boss to yourself, but be a kind one, too.

Photos courtesy of Kinga Nichols.

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