Going 'Round in Triangles With the Fabulous Jean Power
I don't know about you, but I've been totally enthralled with the Beadwork magazine Designer of the Year projects from Jean Power. I've always been fascinated by shaped peyote stitch beadwork, and Jean has elevated the simple peyote stitch triangle into a complex and elegant beaded jewelry component, and once you've tried her techniques for making these versatile little beaded shapes, you'll be amazed at how easily they come together. I wanted to know more about this globe-trotting, roller-derby-skating beadwork designer. I was lucky enough to catch Jean between international teaching gigs, and she was gracious enough to answer a few questions for me about her beadwork, her travels, and being on a roller derby team!
Q: How did you get started with peyote stitch and beadweaving?
I had grown up with a love of crafts and did a lot of painting and sewing. Cross stitch and embroidery were favorite techniques of mine, and the more I did, the more I loved those little beads that I used to embellish some of the designs. Then one day, a bead shop opened up near where I worked, and I was completely mesmerized the first time I looked in the window. I went into the shop and just started thinking: What are Delicas? What are drop beads? How do you know what thread to use? It was a long time before I had the nerve to do any beading! I just didn't know where to start.
In 1991, I came across a beading kit that answered many of my questions. I used it to make my first brick stitch amulet bag, and I never looked back!
Q: Why did you choose to start working with peyote stitch? And why did you start working with peyote stitch triangles?
I learnt peyote stitch from Carol Wilcox Wells' wonderful first book shortly after making my first brick stitch amulet bag, and towards the end of that year I decided to bead my own vessel. Learning about the effect increasing could have on your work while I attempted that piece led me to try and make a triangle, and eleven years later I still love beading peyote stitch triangles! I find a triangle a fascinating shape, and one which I could explore endlessly. I return to peyote stitch triangles over and over, and I love pushing the boundaries of this simple shape. There is so much wonderful potential in making peyote stitch triangles, I seriously think I could work with them forever.
Q: You have such a unique style of beadwork! How would you describe it?
I think of my style as a geometric, pared-down but bold look that uses the individual beads themselves to make a design and a statement. My work is usually unembellished and unadorned, for two reasons: personal preference, and until recently, we didn't have access to as many lovely beads as we do now here in the UK. (United Kingdom) When I design a piece of beadwork, I always keep in mind what beads are easy to find at your local bead shop.
Since I started beading, I've always wanted to show the structure, shape, and form of my work and not cover all of it with oodles of crystal fringe. Even when I do work with crystals or other shaped beads, I still try to retain a simple style. That's the challenge for me: achieving something visually attractive and complex with just one size and shape of bead! It takes more planning, thought, and design work than relying on "glitzier" beads to add to a design.
Sharing this idea of technique and design is something I really enjoy, and I'm very excited to be working on a book with Kate McKinnon and Dustin Wedekind at the moment which will further explore all of that.
Q: You travel quite a bit to teach beading. What has been your best bead-related trip so far?
I am very fortunate to say that there have been many wonderful bead-related trips! Last year, I traveled to Tucson, Arizona and stayed with Kate McKinnon, where I got to meet Dustin Wedekind, Teresa Sullivan, and had a reunion with Marcia Decoster. I recently traveled to Egypt, where my days were filled with teaching people from so many different backgrounds. Seeing such a diverse group of people come together to learn and share our love of beading will always be a treasured memory.
Q: Where would you like to be five years from now?
I can honestly say pretty much where I am. I am fortunate to be able to work in a field I love, travel the World, have amazing friends in the beading community and spend a lot of my time learning and being creative. All I ask for on top of that is good health and maybe a bigger house so I can fit all my beads in!
Q: Now, what's all this about you doing roller derby?
I got into roller derby nearly three years ago. I'd never been on roller skates before, and was completely out of my comfort zone. But the first time I went into my team changing room, the conversation centered around what necklace a skater should wear for the game that day, and I thought, any sport which encourages the wearing of ridiculous clothes and having an alter-ego is the sport for me!
I skate for the fabulous London Rockin' Rollers, using the name Femme Fatality. My experience with roller derby has resulted in making many wonderful friends, more travel, and learning some interesting life skills.
Peyote stitch triangles are the perfect introduction to shaped peyote stitch for both beginner and advanced beaders! If you're new to the world of shaped peyote stitch and want to learn more, check out Bead Stitching Triangles with Jean Power. This DVD of nine watch-and-learn lessons covers everything you need to know to start creating peyote stitch triangles for your own unique beaded jewelry designs.
Learn all about increasing and decreasing in peyote stitch as you craft these amazing peyote stitch triangles with your favorite seed beads! Pre-order your copy of Bead Stitching Triangles with Jean Power and start going around in triangles with this master bead artist.
Have you tried any of Jean's Designer of the Year projects in Beadwork magazine yet? Take a picture of your finished creation and post it in our Reader Photo Gallery to inspire someone else!