Get to Know Bead Artist and Instructor Nancy Eha

Learning how to add beaded embellishment to fabric is a great way to open up new possibilities for your beaded jewelry designs. Whether you like to do bead embroidery or just want to learn how to embellish clothing, fabric, or other items with seed beads, now you can register for the Seed Bead Botany course with bead artist Nancy Eha and learn how to create organic seed bead embellishments inspired by nature.

Read on to learn more about Nancy, her artistic process, where she creates, and how she keeps track of all the beautiful beady ideas bouncing around in her brain!

Tell us a little about yourself. I am so happy to be your instructor for Seed Bead Botany.  There is no place I would rather be than with people who love to create with their hands.  I never, never, never get tired of creating with my hands or run out of ideas of what I want to make.  For me, it is not about wanting to have or own what I make.  My joy comes from the process of creating it!

Where are you from originally, and where do you currently live? I have lived in Minnesota all of my life. Mostly in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area suburbs but now in a township near a small town that is both scenic and brimming with artists and art galleries. The town is Stillwater Minnesota, on the scenic St. Croix River which separates Minnesota from Wisconsin.

Beaded mandalas by Nancy Eha

What do you do besides beading? Oh, it is all about beading, this is my day job. I put in more than 40 hours every week as a beading instructor, author, and artist …and all that goes with it.  Writing courses for online and in person workshops, teaching online and in person classes, authoring  fabric beading books, making class samples, maintaining an online web store and web site, fulfilling orders from web store, ordering beads and supplies, collating kits for workshops, making instructional videos, correspondence, personal travel agent, occasionally time for recreational beading… and more.  Just can’t remember right now.

How and when did you start beading? I have been beading for over 25 years; yes I was born with a beading needle in my hand. (Joking I am actually older than 25)  I discovered a bead shop by accident, and was immediately amazed by the diversity of what you could do with tiny seed beads, thread, and needle.   I spent a whole $12 that day, and off I went on a journey of creative discovery.

Do you prefer to work from patterns, or design your own? If I use a pattern, it is one I designed. I probably use some type of pattern about 50% of the time. We will use patterns I made for this course, only because it is my way to teach exact needle and bead placement resulting in uniform stitches. Sometimes I work in what I call a beading collage style, without a pattern.  Put some beading in one area of the fabric, step back and decide what beading stitches and what color beads to place next on the fabric.  Repeat and repeat. To work this way you must have a “beading vocabulary”; knowledge of many beading processes and beading stitches.

A beading vocabulary is the result of repeatedly asking “What if?” questions of your chosen materials.  Often you do not get the result you desired, but you learn more about what I call “Bead Physics”. How beads interact with with thread and fabric.

How would you describe your personal style? Bold, colorful, and obsessively beaded.

What other creative pursuits do you enjoy? I am taking hoop dancing lessons, it is like hula hooping only you use more body parts than just your waist. You learn hooping tricks, and then make the tricks into a routine. I like it especially because you challenge yourself to learn new tricks; it is not being about being competitive with other hoopers.

Tell us about your beading studio… what kind of space inspires you? I have two rooms side by side, one a beading room and the other a sewing room. Both are at ground level and have amazing views of the forest and a small lake.  I like having two rooms, if the beading room is a mess from collating kits, mailing orders, and packing for classes; I can move to the sewing room.

Both rooms have modular furniture: file drawers, cabinets, and table tops.  Nothing is attached to the walls and I can configure the furniture to my liking.  If I ever move, I can take the furniture with me and reconfigure it for a new work space.

What’s your beading secret weapon? Muse Boxes. I often have an idea months or years before I have the time to start the project.  In the mean time I collect anything; colored paper, photos, found objects, beads, ribbon and trim; anything that reminds me of the topic of what I want to bead.  I put all these items I collect in what I call a”muse box”, and hold them together until I have the time to start the project.  It is one way I hold on to ideas without forgetting the ideas, until I have the time to start the project.

How do you stay motivated on long projects? Lesson learned: Give yourself three times the amount of time you think it will take to finish the project!  And when you get that “let’s just be done with this” attitude, it is time to take a break.  Or, you will be sorry later…I always was.

What has been your favorite project recently? Taking off eight beaded mandalas from two projects which I did not like the outcome, and making them into one project I am proud of.  Title is Reoccurring Dream, it is not in my website gallery as of yet. It will be in a special exhibit at International Quilt Festival in Houston 2014. When you go, look for the Jewel Pierce Patterson Scholarship exhibit.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve made for a client? I do not do commissions.  My style of beading is too labor intensive.

What would your dream studio look like? I am satisfied, I have it.

How has blogging and owning a business influenced your process? I am still learning things I did not know from others, including my students. That what I learn, the new knowledge of any subject enriches my life.

What’s your current beading soundtrack? I usually work in solitude.  Sometimes I will turn on Public Radio, a channel with new Indie bands.  I like being surprised; not knowing what song will come next. Similar to exploring with beads.

Anything else you’d like us to know? If you see me with a crown the reason is I have been dubbed “The Beading Queen” by my students.  Be sure to take a look at my website to see my galleries of original beadwork, and look inside my two books to see some of the beading techniques I have invented.

Imagine what you could do if you learned how to embellish fabric with seed beads! You still have time to sign up for Seed Bead Botany, through August 19, 2014. This online learning opportunity includes videos, instructions, and downloadable patterns. You can get your questions answered by Nancy, share progress photos from each weekly assignment, and interact with your fellow students, all at a time and place that’s convenient for you. Make sure you sign up now for Seed Bead Botany and get in on this exciting 4-week online learning opportunity.

You can learn more about Nancy and see her gallery of finished work on her website, Bead Creative.

Bead Happy,

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