Do You Bead with Crystals, Pearls, Stones or Glass?: Why You Dont Have to Choose

Jean Campbell is a
contributing editor to Beading Daily

One thing I love about what I do for a living is being in constant contact with creative, productive people. Marlene Blessing is just one of those people. I’ve known her for several years, but had the chance recently to sit down and ask her a few questions so that you could get to know her a little better, too. One thing I love about what I do for a living is being in constant contact with creative, productive people.

Here’s an interview I had with the lovely Marlene:

Q: What's your title at Interweave and what does that make you queen of?

A: Editorial Director for Beadwork, Stringing, and Beading Daily. I'm not sure about the queenliness of my job–except that I am surrounded by jewelry and editors who need absolutely no direction when it comes to beading with style!

Q: You told me once that you've been involved with a ridiculous number of books in your long career in publishing. Can you tell us what the running count is so far? What subjects have you covered?

A: Let's just say 400+ books. Subjects? Crafts, cooking, gardening, nature/environment, travel, outdoor recreation, children's illustrated, poetry, fiction, memoirs, history. I've been within shouting distance of a grizzly, crawled around looking for fossil trilobites, tried to weave an ovoid form (but failed), and cooked a quail egg to perfection–all to keep up with my authors!

Create Jewelry Crystals

Q: At Interweave, your name is on the cover of several books. Which beading book pops into your mind first? Why?
A: I loved working on Create Jewelry: Crystals. I got to visit the Swarovski headquarters in Austria, including their famous tourist attraction "Crystal Worlds." Really something to see a giant carved into a hillside with shining crystal eyes.

Q: What was it like to work with Jamie Hogsett on the books? How did you complement each other?

A: Jamie is an amazing designer. I researched and wrote, she created all the innovative designs. Our most fun together was naming the projects!

Herkimer diamonds

Q: Can you name 5 things that you didn't know about crystals before doing the research for the book? 

A: 1) “Herkimer diamonds” are cool natural crystals with points on each end.

2) Swarovski produces a billion crystals each week.

3) The Chinese called natural crystals “thousand-year-old ice.

4) In twelfth-century Egypt, crystals were valued as much as diamonds.

5) When Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to JFK, her gown had 6,000 Swarovski crystals sewn to it.

Q: Your design style is simple and elegant, and you have quite a panache with color. Where does your good taste come from?

A: Thanks! My mom was my teacher on this score. I still treasure her little black dress, which beats everything I've seen on Mad Men.

Cosmic Jewels bracelet
by Jamie Hogsett

What crystal shapes gave you the most inspiration while working on the book?

A: I loved the crystal cosmic beads from Swarovski in Jamie Hogsett’s Cosmic Jewels bracelet.

Q: I hear the Create Jewelry series is being offered at a pretty smokin' price. If I were to buy two, which would make a nice set?

A: Tough to choose, but I’d pick Crystals and Stones. Crystals, because adding sparkle ups the glam factor. And Stones, because they’re both earthy and mystical.

Q: You are a wonderful jewelry designer, but also an excellent writer. Which discipline are you more comfortable with? Why?

A: Writing and stories have always been my passion. But I've loved jewelry since my little-girl dress-up days. I couldn't choose if I had to. Fortunately, I don't have to.


Q: Fess up: What size vehicle would you need to haul your stash?

A: I think I can cram it all into a U-Haul (the large one).


Thanks, Marlene! (Hey–are you a Marlene fan like me? Get on the fanwagon and check out her Create Jewelry series: Crystals, Stones, and Glass. They are each wonderfully informative, beautifully photographed, and contain fashion-forward, wonderful projects.)

Keep up the fabulous work . . . we love your designs!

Jean Campbell


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