Create a Beadwork Portfolio

Remember That Necklace?

Most people who know me will tell you that I’m horribly forgetful. And it’s not something I can blame on age or too much partying. It’s just the way I am and always have been. Age has become a factor, though, so it’s been necessary to come up with some tricky memory recall methods. The easiest one is to respond to emails instantly so I won’t forget to later. I also cut up recycled copy paper into fourths and use the little slips as endless memory jogs all over the house (“Dentist at 4:00,” “Buy cat litter”, “Turn off oven”). Names are the worst! The best thing I’ve come up with is to think of a song or movie title with the name in it and somehow assign that to a person forever.  So if I ever start singing when I meet you, you’ll know why!

Recently I had someone ask me about a necklace I made in 2002. “You know, the one with the resin and gold and exposed wire?” Blank stare. That’s when I knew I needed to come up with a trick for remembering the stuff I’ve made. Solution? A simple beading portfolio or “book.” This is not a new idea, of course. The first time I met Katie Hacker years ago she showed me her book. It made it so easy to quickly see her body of work! I was permanently impressed.

Keeping images of all your creations in one place is not only good for recall, it’s a great way to readily track your creative progress, color use, and technique. It’s also a good portable solution for those times when you want to show people your work and can't drag them to your studio or don’t have access to your web page, like at bead show gatherings, gallery meetings, or bead shop visits. This on-the-go visual vehicle is just another thing to add to your beading travel kit. (Speaking of traveling with beads, the Summer 2009 issue of Studios, my favorite new vice for fantasizing about getting my crafty rear in gear, is full of great articles and tips about bringing your crafty self on the road. Check it out!)

Organizing Your Own Book

Creating a bead portfolio is a pretty straightforward process:

1.  Images. Think about what you’d like to include in your book. Do you want to include just the highlights of the things you’ve made or absolutely everything? If you’re including published work, this is a great place to store the tear sheets you received from the publisher. For other work, make a document with a photo of the beadwork and a caption that includes the title, materials, finished size, and date created.

2. Book design. Decide to get as elaborately beautiful or as bare-tacks minimalist as you like. If you’re using your book for selling your work, get fancy by placing it in an artist’s portfolio with a few samples sewn right in. If you just need a record, a labeled accordion file stuffed with printouts is probably fine. 
Since I’ll be referring to mine more than occasionally, I don’t need it to look lovely, but I do need it to be durable, so I just used plastic sheet protectors in a regular 3-ring binder.  

3. Organization. File your pieces so you can find the images again easily. You might choose to file them by technique, color, material, or type of jewelry. Or you might have several different books (“for sale,” “sold,” “published,” “UFOs,” etc.) for different uses.

Have you created a beading portfolio? What’s inside? Please let us know on the website.

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