Beadweaving Regal and Heirloom Quality Jewelry Designs
I love when paths cross and connections are made, even more so when they happen naturally. Cristie Prince and I were due to meet at a recent event to discuss her new eBook Bead Royale (currently available in a collection with her Queen of Diamonds kit in two different colors!). We wound up being introduced via mutual friends before our scheduled meeting time; it was one of those “it was meant to be moments.” And what a pleasure to meet such an amazingly bright and beautiful, beady woman and to then have her personality and bright smile in mind as I drank in each design in her eBook. And did I say WOW!? Cristie’s designs are stunning!
Since each of you can’t meet Cristie before you read her book, I asked for a bit more time and asked her a few questions so you, too, could get to know her and have some insight on what helped inspire these beautiful and very royal designs.
Cristie – thank you for your time and for all the beading inspirations you’ve shared with us. Your new book is beautiful, the instructions and pattern illustrations so well thought out, and the tips you share very helpful. Thank you also for sharing a bit about you.
CP: Thank you very much, Tammy. I appreciate your kind words and your taking the time to interview me.
BD: Let’s get right to the heart of it (and with a little bit of humor behind my words): Are you an Anglophile?
Seriously, can you share what inspires the designs in your new book, or how you translate the inspiration into materials we have available to work with? Your designs are like fine jewelry and heirloom quality. You make these designs with materials we all have access to, and utilize bead weaving techniques that, with practice we all can do.
CP: Of course – I love the Brits! My historical jewelry influence was first sparked by watching the Showtime series, The Tudors. I’m drawn to the richly ornate pieces owned by aristocracy and try to reflect that look in the pieces I design. We beaders today are so lucky to have such a vast variety of beads, pearls, crystals and components to work with, many that have the feel of the materials used to create the treasures of the past.
BD: When designing new patterns like these, how many times do you start and stop a design before you have the pattern figured out and looking as good as these do?
CP: It depends. Sometimes, when I see a piece of fine jewelry, I’ll automatically visualize some component or shape from the design already beaded with certain beads.
Other times, I just try new shapes in unconventional ways to see what happens. Often I’ll come up with a component, but not have a clear idea of how to use it, and revisit it at a later date. That was the case with the star shaped component with the pearl in the center, which became the Corona Necklace.
BD: Can you share a bit about your artistic path and how you found your way to bead weaving?
CP: I grew up in a family of makers, so I’ve always valued handmade over mass produced. And I love to learn new skills, so my interests have taken me on a long and winding creative journey. I’ve done sewing, macrame, counted cross stitch, stained glass, lampworking, to name a few, but jewelry making has been in my life the longest. I remember stringing seed beads on elastic thread as early as kindergarten, making chokers as gifts for my classmates.
In the late 90’s, I was doing stained glass but looking for something to do that was easy to cart around and work on while I waited for my kids at their sports practices. A friend showed me a peyote stitched amulet bag and I was so amazed that beads, when woven together could create a glass “fabric.” I’ve been bead-obsessed ever since. Bead weaving is the perfect activity for me, since I love jewelry, it’s portable, and it fulfills my need to create.
BD: Do you sketch out your designs ahead of time or just pick up needle and thread then surround yourself with beads and see what happens?
CP: I rarely sketch. I’m more of an experimenter. When I attempt to bead what I’ve visualized, the beads don’t always stitch together the way I had in mind. When that happens, I experiment with other sizes and shapes. Sometimes the end result is not at all what I was going for, but often I like it better than what I’d originally been trying to create. And then other times, I stubbornly hold onto the vision in my head, until either I come up with a solution, or a new bead shape comes along to help make that image a reality.
BD: What threads and tools do you find to be indispensable when working with the materials used to create the designs in Bead Royale?
CP: When it comes to thread, the choice depends on the job the thread will need to do. I use a lot of Fireline, primarily 4 lb., because I use so many 15° and charlotte beads. I find Fireline to be strong, and it almost never splits. The thinner, 4 lb. variety allows more passes through the smaller beads — a feature that can be very useful when working on a new design. I use One G thread for fringe, or when I need a bit of stretch and flex in the thread.
My favorite tool, beyond the basics, is a sharp awl, which is handy for “unbeading,” undoing knots, and trying to decypher a threadpath when I’ve forgotten what I’ve done or my notes aren’t clear enough to follow.
BD: Any other tips you can share that weren’t already included in the book? Or do you have a favorite tip in the book you want to highlight?
CP: Sure. For better tension control when bead weaving, tighten the thread after each stitch in the same direction as the stitch was made. Ofte, without realizing it, beaders will make a stitch and then, when pulling the thread through the beads, they pull away from the direction they’ve stitched, which pulls on the bead holding the most recent stitch and results in loose tension.
Thank you, Cristie! Such a pleasure to spend time with you and we appreciate your sharing even more with all of us here at BeadingDaily.com.
Yours in creativity,