Discover Bead Weaving with Designer Kim West
Kim West has been beading since the mid-1990s. She’s the owner of Stony Creek Bead in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where she teaches classes and creates new designs. Kim’s Playful Pentagons Bracelet was in the June/July 2017 issue of Beadwork. In addition, her Mini Medallions Bracelet & Earrings Set was featured in Quick + Easy Beadwork Winter 2017. Kim recently shared her love of beading with us.
Hooked on Peyote
Q: How did you get started beading?
A: I’ve always been interested in beads. I remember making simple necklaces on fishing line when I was in junior high school. Fast forward a few years, and a friend at work taught me to make an amulet bag using peyote stitch. I was hooked! I purchased the book Creative Bead Weaving by Carol Wilcox Wells, and I beaded my way through the book. I also taught myself some additional stitches.
Q: What’s your favorite stitch or technique, and why?
A: I have a soft place in my heart for peyote stitch. When I first started beading, I made many amulet bags using circular peyote. I was fascinated by how you could stitch tiny little beads together to make a beautiful picture or pattern.
Inspiration and Creativity
Q: Where do you get your design ideas?
A: I get a lot of inspiration from antique jewelry. It’s fun to try to re-create parts of a piece with beads.
Q: Do you plan your designs in advance, or do you just let the creativity flow?
A: Most of the time, the creativity just flows. I don’t usually plan in advance. I’ll pick out a bead or two that I would like to design around and work from there.
Q: How do you get out of a creative rut?
A: Since I own a bead store, I don’t have a lot of time to create new things. If I’m at a loss for ideas, I’ll take a small part from a piece that I’ve already designed and expand on it. That way, it doesn’t feel like I’m starting from scratch, and the process isn’t so overwhelming.
Q: How do you approach the use of color in your designs?
A: I tend to use the same colors over and over. To mix it up, I look at fabric for inspiration. I also love the websites that give you a color palette for an everyday picture. [Editor’s Note: For more on generating color palettes from photos, see "Color Palettes for Jewelry Designs from YOUR Photos.”]
Q: What was the inspiration for your Playful Pentagons Bracelet?
A: I’m not sure that I really had an inspiration. I just sat down and started playing around with the beads. The DiamonDuos were new to my store, so I wanted to make a project that used them.
Find Kim’s designs in Beadwork magazine!