Making Beads the Hard Way: Bead Artist Terri Caspary Schmidt Reveals Her Art

Creativity can manifest itself in a number of different forms. While some stick to one craft, many can’t help themselves from expanding their hobbies, one leading right into another. Bead artist Terri Caspary Schmidt created her first lampwork bead in 1999 in a workshop taught by Eleanor MacNish. Before that experience, her artistic focus had been fiber arts, including dyeing silk and stenciling. In this interview, she explains a bit about her passion for making beads.
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Q: I know you have a full-time job outside of beadmaking. Are there any similarities between the two? Or does one balance the other?
A: They do balance each other. I’ve been a nurse/midwife for eighteen years and spend my days interacting with people and doing a lot of computer work. Being in the studio is very meditative. The beads are pretty involved, pretty intricate, so they take a long time. I have to be highly focused and use a different part of my brain. I like to joke that there is no talking and no screaming in the studio.

Q: Is there any benefit for an artist to have a day job?
A: I’m lucky that I have a day job. It allows me the freedom to experiment more. If I didn’t, I’d feel the pressure to move a lot of beads. I hate making spacers. It’s really a luxury not to do that.

Q: And the downside?
A: Sometimes it’s difficult. I can go months without making beads. It takes me awhile to warm up again. It’s difficult for me to juggle the two activities. I tend to do lampworking in big chunks of time, planning for an entire day in the studio.

Q:What’s your studio like?
A: I have a little house in the backyard. I call it the bead hut. I live in the city, but I do have some trees.

Q: That sounds wonderful! I understand you’re going to start teaching this year. In the class description I read, you mentioned that your class will emphasize slowing down and finding your rhythm. Do you find that students normally rush?
A: People are in a hurry to get something perfect right away, but to develop skills and intuition, you need to slow down. Slowing down opens up the possibilities. With a deep focus, you can take simple techniques to an interesting level. I started with dots and then moved to negative space and repetition. I wanted to call the class “Really Slow Beads” or “Making Beads the Hard Way,” but I was afraid no one would sign up.

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Terri is known for her complex symmetrical designs are often inspired by natural forms, such as seed pods, starfish, and Datura blossoms. Her work has been featured at the Bead Invitational hosted by PISMO Fine Art Glass and the Japan Lampwork Festival. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Learn more at

This article was originally published in the August/September 2012 issue of Beadwork magazine. For more on Terri Caspary Schmidt and making beads visit the Interweave Store.

For more about making your own beads at the Interweave Store.


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