Meet Beadwork Designer of the Year Melinda Barta
Melinda Barta is a former editor of Beadwork magazine and the author of six bead-weaving books. She is a talented beadwork designer who has filmed many instructional videos and taught at bead shows throughout the United States. We’re excited to have Melinda as one of our 2018 Beadwork Designers of the Year!
Beading for the Love of the Craft
Q: How did you get started beading?
A: I have always enjoyed working with my hands and loved all crafts as a child. When I was 8 or 9 years old, I found a souvenir daisy-chain bracelet, analyzed the thread path, and re-created several of my own. I particularly loved decoding the puzzle of the thread path. However, my true addiction to beads didn’t start until I was pursuing my degree in fiber arts and later while working for Jewelry Stringing and Beadwork magazines.
Q: Where do you get your design ideas? What inspires your creativity?
A: The process of beading is what fuels my love for the craft, so I often start with whichever stitch I’m in the mood for. It’s common for me to say to myself, “I haven’t done herringbone in a while, what can I create?” If a technique doesn’t inspire me, I rely on experimenting with different materials. As a Starman TrendSetter and consultant for Starman Wholesale, I’m fortunate enough to get factory-direct prototypes and see what develops from playing! My Crossroads Cuff was the product of playing with three-hole CzechMates Beams.
The Creative Ebb and Flow
Q: Do you plan your designs in advance, or do you just let the creativity flow?
A: Planning usually comes mid-project. First, I need time to just let the creativity flow, but before I get too far I stop to see where the piece is going. I’m known to photocopy my beaded bits and plan out the rest of the project by cutting and pasting. For component-based designs, this can save a lot of time!
Q: How do you get out of a creative rut?
A: I take a break — sometimes a long break. Several months might go by when I don’t complete anything. I can get impatient with designing, so if something isn’t headed in a good direction, I walk away instead of trying to fight it.
Favorite Colors and Techniques
Q: How do you approach the use of color in your designs?
A: Even with several cabinets of beads to choose from, I still find color to be challenging and often play it safe by pairing metallic bronze with my favorite colors (blues, greens, deep purples, and sometimes mauve). I also strive for contrasting finishes, allowing metallic beads to shine against matte beads. I rarely work with transparent beads because I want the beads to be the star of the show, not the thread or bead holes. With two young kids and little free time to bead, I don’t often take the time to branch out in new colorways. For now, I have to stick to what works — but perhaps when my kids are older I’ll have more time to experiment with color!
Q: What’s your favorite stitch or technique?
A: I’m currently obsessed with working cubic right-angle weave (CRAW) with TOHO Demi Rounds. Demis are perfect for this stitch! Two of my Designer of the Year projects feature this combination, as do my Band of Baubles bracelet and Demi Deluxe bangle.
Q: What was the inspiration for your 2018 Designer of the Year projects?
A: My February/March Tic-Tac-Toe Cuff (above) and my June/July DOY project share my love of using CRAW with TOHO Demi Rounds. For April/May, my goal was to share a somewhat romantic design for spring that features a lot of positive and negative space.
More About Melinda
Q: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not beading?
A: I love spending time with my family and being outdoors. I’ve also had a lot of fun building a new shop on Etsy, redesigning my website, and working with my artistic friend Ren Burke (Bird in Hand Studio) to create my own logo.
To see more of Melinda’s work, visit her Etsy site, Melinda Barta Studio, and her website, MelindaBarta.com. And find more of Melinda’s Designer of the Year projects in upcoming issues of Beadwork magazine!
Managing Editor, Beadwork magazine