Meet Kim Leahy and Create With Her at Bead Fest

I had the pleasure of meeting Kim Leahy in Tucson during the “gem shows.” She had just completed her Champagne Luster project for Beadwork magazine and was excited to strike up conversations about teaching at Bead Fest. That was 2018 and here we are! Kim is teaching a few workshops that highlight her signature style and we are in discussion about new designs for inclusion in Beadwork! Don’t miss the chance to spend time with this talented artist who is filled with positive energy and creativity!

ABOVE: Clockwise from left, some of Kim Leahy’s classes at Bead Fest: Flirting with Triangles, North Bracelet, Warrior Bracelet, Voyager Bracelet, Bonita Petalo.

Champagne Luster Bracelet by Kim Leahy, August/September 2018 Beadwork

Champagne Luster Bracelet by Kim Leahy, August/September 2018 Beadwork

Getting to Know Kim Leahy

Tammy Honaman: How long have you been beading and when did you know it was time to start your teaching business? What was the catalyst that helped you know it was the right next step?

Kim Leahy: I have been beading for probably 12-15 years, just dabbling. I taught friends out of my home but not outside of that. Three years ago, Kim Tamarin from (then) Tambrook Beads encouraged me to apply to Starman Trendsetters and teaching at Bead and Button. She said, what is the worse thing that can happen? I applied for both and was accepted into both.

TH: How do you fit beading into your everyday life? Is it your main focus or do you have another job and you turn to your passion at the end of the day or just on weekends?

KL: This is my “full-time” job now since losing my part-time job a year ago due to business closure. I am very committed and passionate about my outdoor activities, so that certainly cuts into bead time, but my head is much clearer.

Beading Storage Ideas

Kim Leahy’s studio

Kim Leahy’s studio

TH: Where do you bead? Do you have a studio, separate area in your dining room, or a room all to it’s beady self?

KL: I bead both in my office (because it has a window) and my studio in our basement. Sometimes in the summer, I will go to a nature park and bead by the river.

Some of Kim Leahy’s storage

Some of Kim Leahy’s storage

TH: what type of storage do you like to use for your beads and supplies? Any tips you can share on this topic? Do you sort by color, bead size, shape, or brand?

KL: For travel, I use small photo boxes with a mat in the bottom and the project material inside. For home storage, I use just about everything I can get my hands on. Since I put kits together, I have many bins that have products by type with a bead glued to the outside of the drawer for easy access. I also have boxes for special projects that are a repeat so I can get my hands on that product quickly and know if I need to order. I have bins for the seed beads that I use most and trays for the others. Everyone has to do what system works for them. But I find I have to see it. It has to be labeled. Things in a drawer not labeled can be lost for years.

Beading Inspiration

TH: What inspires your designs and propels you into new directions? Nature? Architecture? Life?

KL: I am product motivated. I will try to use something that I just love or a color that excites me. I like to spend down time looking at images of jewelry from all walks of life and eras to get inspiration.

bead fest instructor Kim Leahy

Kim and her mountain bike, Mavis

TH: What would you like to share about yourself that others wouldn’t know about you? What else do you enjoy doing/what other hobbies do you have/where did you go on vacation/what was your most favorite subject in school – anything fun that connect people to you).

KL: I LOVE mountain biking. It clears my head, uses my full body and brain and I am so lucky to have a large network of ladies where I live that ride. When I accomplish a particular hard climb or a rock, I am excited for the rest of the week. My bike’s name is Mavis, and she and I spend a lot of time together.

TH: Do you bead on the road? If so, what is your best tip?

KL: Not that much. But when I do, I pick a simple project with little product or work on something that is more repetitive.

TH: Do you have any pets? How do they interact with you while you’re beading?

KL: I have a cat, Hannah. She is pretty chill about not sitting on my bead mat, but she likes to chew on the cellophane bags I package my kits in. I keep a few out just for her when I am working.

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If you’re going to Bead Fest, be sure to take a class with Kim. And stop by her booth to meet this dynamic woman and see all her designs in person!


Get creative with Kim Leahy and other beading artists at Bead Fest and in Beadwork!

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