Beautiful Beadwork Collaborations of Amy Haftkowycz and Barbara Falkowitz of Artful Beads Studio and Workshop

Amy Haftkowycz
Barbara Falkowitz

Collaborations between bead artists can be a wonderful thing! Last summer at Bead Fest Philadelphia, I go to see the gorgeous beadwork of Barbara Falkowitz and Amy Haftkowycz up-close and personal. Amy and Barbara are co-owners of Artful Beads Studio and Gallery in Pennington, New Jersey, and design partners. Their vintage-inspired beadwork perfectly balances their use of modern beading supplies and materials with classic design sensibilities, resulting in beaded jewelry designs that will never go out of style. Read on to learn more about these two Beadwork magazine Designers Of the Year!


 

The beautiful collaborative beaded jewelry designs of Amy and Barbara

Q: I think everyone would love to know, what got you started with beading? How did you discover your love for beads and designing beadwork?

Amy:  I started beading the way many others did: I walked into a bead store one day (20 years ago now!), and was instantly addicted. Before I knew it, I was setting up a lampworking studio and selling my handmade glass beads at art and bead shows. Things only escalated from there: There were too many different beads and techniques out there to explore… I couldn’t (and still can’t) get enough. I have since retired from lampworking, mainly due to repetitive strain injury issues, but am nowhere near ready to “retire” from the world of beads and jewelry making — there is still so much more to learn!

Barbara: I started beading in the 70’s when my sister-in-law introduced me to African Trade beads. I loved the unique colors and textures so much I decided that I had to make my own jewelry. I also had started doing macramé, and incorporated those beads into amulets and small hangings I would wear around my neck. I evolved into seed beads, after saying I would never use them!

Q: How does collaborating with another designer differ from working by yourself? Do you have any tips for artists that want to start collaborating or partner up with another designer?

Since we have co-owned a bead store together for nine years, collaborating happens pretty naturally for us. We have similar-yet-different styles, and that makes the design process flow: our similarities allow the design process to flow, while our differences bring a piece of our own style into the finished pieces. It’s fun bouncing ideas off each other and watching the projects take on a life of their own!

When you want to collaborate with someone else, the main things you want to have are an open mind, an ability to communicate, and the desire to do it. It doesn’t matter if your design styles are polar-opposites or if they are exactly the same or if they fall somewhere in between. If you WANT to collaborate, anything is possible.

Q: It feels like there are new beads being introduced every week now. How do you keep up with all the new styles and colors of glass beads that come out? How do these influence your design process?

You’re right – there are new beads coming at us from left and right these days! They are all stunning, and we’d love to play with all of them, but since time is limited, we aren’t able to carry all the new styles of beads all the time – but we are working our way down the list! There are definitely certain colors and shapes that have become part of our “signature style”, and by taking our time and following our instincts, we are able to achieve the look we are after. Of course things can change in an instant: beads that aren’t catching our eye today might be the bead that we can’t put down next week!

Q: Just for fun! You’ve been awarded a trip to anywhere in the world that you want to go, all expenses paid. Where would you go, and why?

Amy: To be honest, right now my favorite place to be is home, so my ideal, all-expenses paid vacation would be a staycation at home with my husband and cats – and with someone else doing all the cooking , cleaning, and errands, so I could spend every waking moment beading!

Barbara: I would love to take a River Cruise from Budapest, Hungary to The Netherlands and explore the many castles, forts and small towns along the way. I find the architecture and countryside to be inspiring from a historical and design perspective. Of course, I would have to include Prague and the surrounding areas where glass beads and buttons have been manufactured for hundreds of years.


If you don’t have the February/March issue of Beadwork magazine yet, you won’t want to miss out on the first installation of this year’s Designer Of the Year projects! Amy and Barbara, as well as bead artists Cindy Holsclaw and Penny Dixon, are ready to share their latest and greatest beaded jewelry designs with us. Along with great new product reviews, interviews and profiles of emerging bead artists, and all your favorite beading techniques, you won’t want to miss the February/March issue of Beadwork magazine. Check out the current issue, plus all of the great beading magazines available for instant download in the Beading Daily Shop!

Have you ever collaborated with another bead artist? What was the experience like for you? What advice would you have for bead artists who want to collaborate on a project? Leave a comment here and share your experiences and advice with us!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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