Beading with the Masters: Leonardo da Vinci

When I was in college, I had a love/hate relationship with Art History. I sat in the front row, but no matter how fascinating I found the subject, I would always fall asleep in class! I’d love to teach you a little art history, without creating a snooze-fest. So, what better way than to relate my favorite artists with something else I love: BEADS!

I love learning about artists, their lives, and what inspired their work. Each month or so, I’ll pick an artist whose birthday is coming up, and I’ll write about the Interweave products that remind me of the artist’s work. I hope I can entertain and inspire you, as well as instill some knowledge along the way! Grab a snack (that always helped me remain conscious in class!) and let’s embark on this art history bead journey.

Leonardo da Vinci: Painter, Scientist, Innovator

Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday is April 15. A true “Renaissance Man,” Leonardo lived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. His imaginative genius cannot be understated, and it feels almost blasphemous to compare anybody to him. However, I can’t help but be reminded of how jewelry designers and beaders are always coming up with creative new ways to make beautiful objects. Here are a few of Interweave’s projects that remind me of the diversely talented Leonardo.

Using Art as Inspiration

If you are artistically/historically inclined, this webinar about creating jewelry inspired by works of art should be right up your alley! Author and jewelry designer Jean Campbell is a wonderful teacher who shares with us her methods on pulling inspiration from artwork, selecting beads, and using the principles of design to help you create your own original, historically inspired piece. Use this great tool of seeking inspiration to expand your beading and jewelry making horizons!

Leonardo da Vinci

Learn how to use art as inspiration in this creative webinar.

Cast Your Eyes to the Night Skies

Leonardo, like many creative and scientific minds of his time, was fascinated with astronomy and the celestial. Leonardo loved to observe and detail the heavens, like he did in his Codex Leicester scientific journals.

Cathy Andrews’ Constellation Pendant is a stellar (pun intended) piece of beadwork. The design and muted colors also lend an aesthetic reminiscent of the Renaissance to the pendant. Create and wear this gorgeous pendant and you’ll sparkle like a star, too.

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo’s interest in astronomy is documented in the Codex Leicester. Express your love of all things celestial by creating this gorgeous Constellation Pendant.

Math and Geometry Aren’t Just for Science!

Leonardo had an informal education in math and geometry, but he expanded his knowledge under the tutelage of his friend, mathematician and the father of accounting, Luca Pacioli. He created several geometric polyhedral sketches for scientists to study and use. Artists and scientists, in the age of Renaissance Humanism, did not consider the arts and sciences as separate as we do now. Leonardo’s works were considered just as important to science as they are to art.

I’m certain the geometric beaded beads in Cindy Holsclaw’s video Geometric Beaded Beads: From Cubes to Dodecahedrons would absolutely fascinate Leonardo. Create little geometric works of art with the step-by-step video instructions, and learn how to incorporate them into jewelry.

Math, science, and art went hand-in-hand during the Renaissance. Create these artistic and geometric beaded beads with the aid of this video download.

Innovation and Creativity Are Totally Steampunk

I would be totally remiss if I didn’t include something steampunk in my article about Leonardo. Flying machines, clockwork gears and cogs, wacky inventions, and wild innovation are all synonymous with Leonardo and steampunk. Jewelry Stringing magazine was always a great source of inspiration for steampunk jewelry designs, and you’ll find 12 of the magazine’s most steampunky designs in this eBook.

It was jewelry and beading that introduced me to the steampunk aesthetic about 10 years ago, and I’ve been falling down that rabbit hole ever since! Because of steampunk, I am always learning something new, honing my crafting skills, and creating impressive jewelry or accessories. Get your creative juices flowing and try some of the innovative designs in these steampunk jewelry designs.

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo was an innovator, which is the name of the steampunk game.

Creativity doesn’t come to all of us naturally, like I expect it did for Leonardo. It comes with practice. I hope that you’re inspired to create, and flex your imagination, like Leonardo did. Try any of these projects and you’ll be on the path to tapping into your inner Leonardo!

Stay tuned for our next installation of Beading with the Masters, and learn about Salvador Dalí! Read the entire series of Beading with the Masters here!

Meredith Steele
Technical Editor, Beadwork Magazine


Find projects that mimic Leonardo da Vinci’s unique style in the Interweave Store!

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