Beadwork Magazine Announces New Technical Editor: Meet Meredith Steele

Meredith Steele, technical editor, Beadwork magazine

Meredith Steele is Beadwork magazine’s new technical editor, and we’re thrilled to have her on board! She started with us on November 7 and is excited about the challenge of editing all the bead-woven projects in future issues of the magazine. Meredith shared her beading journey with us, which started at a very young age. Welcome, Meredith!

Beading from a Young Age

Q: How long have you been beading, and how did you get started?

A: My first trip into a bead store was when I was about 6 years old, and I fell in love with all the sparkles and colors. However, it wasn’t until much later when my mom picked up beading as a hobby that I got entirely sucked in. I was living at home during my junior year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; during breaks from homework, I would sit at the dining table with my mom and bead. Her version of the story is that I created beautiful jewelry with no instruction whatsoever — but I remember differently. I wish I had saved some of my first pieces, as a reminder that practice makes perfect.

Meredith Steele's bead shop

Q: What’s your favorite stitch or technique, and why?

A: Having worked in and/or owned my own bead store for the past combined 13 years, I’ve become a Jill-of-all-trades. I love all kinds of jewelry making. Apart from being a master bead weaver, I also enjoy wire weaving, stringing, knotting, and metalworking. I love learning new things, and I’m always pushing my horizons.

Q: What stitch or technique do you find the most challenging?

A: I’ve always struggled with sculptural weaves, especially increases and decreases in peyote stitch. My technical mind wants things to be neat and orderly, in a sequential pattern. I’ll keep trying until I get it!

Design Style

Q: Do you typically follow other designers’ patterns, or do you prefer to create your own designs?

A: I love coming up with my own colorways from other designers’ patterns, but there’s nothing better than the raw creative energy that comes from sitting down in front of a pile of beads and coming up with something beautiful from scratch. Sitting down with a new shape of bead and figuring out how to work it into something is always a challenge; when it works out, it’s very rewarding.

Meredith Steele's bead shop

Q: What inspires your creativity? Where do you get your design ideas?

A: I’ve seen a lot of beads and jewelry. I think that’s the most important thing to figuring out your style and feeling inspired: a catalog of images. The biggest challenge that I’ve faced as an artist is figuring out what I like and what I want to make. Whether you prefer creating a board on Pinterest, or you’re blessed (cursed) with a photographic memory like mine, having a pool to draw inspiration from is essential to the creative process.

Q: Do you plan your designs in advance, or do you just let the creativity flow?

A: I don’t tend to sketch things out, but I do have an idea in my mind’s eye of how I want a piece to turn out. It’s always interesting to see how the idealized version in my head comes out in reality.

Q: How do you approach the use of color in your designs?

A: I’m a very monochromatic person — I tend to use gradients of colors. I’ll mix two or three colors together, but I try to find multiple shades of the same color family.

Meredith Steele's bead shop

Some of Meredith’s bracelets


Q: How do you get out of a creative rut?

A: I seek out inspiration! I’ll flip through magazines and books or surf the web in search of new ideas. Once I see something I want to make, the excitement kicks in and I’m off to the races.

Q: What other creative projects do you like to work on?

A: I’m a total steampunk geek. I love costume design and have been developing my sewing skills over the past few years. From sewing a fabulous ball gown from a Victorian reproduction pattern, to painting a nerf gun and gluing some brass gears on it — I’m in deep! I love that steampunk gives me a reason to keep being creative and keep pushing myself to go bigger and do more.

Beading as a Hobby and a Livelihood

Q: What excites you most about working on Beadwork magazine?

A: It will be great to be even more involved in the beading community. I’m looking forward to using my expertise to help set trends and cultivate creativity in others.

Q: Where is your current workspace located?

A: I’m lucky enough to have an entire bead store at my disposal! I still own the Madison Bead Company in Madison, Wisconsin.

Meredith Steele's bead shop

Q: How is your studio/workspace organized?

A: It’s organized chaos. I tend to get all of my materials out and spread everything around so that I can see it all without digging. I just need to be a little bit better about cleaning up afterwards.

Q: What do you love about your beading space?

A: I love having access to so many different materials. I very seldom find myself lacking a particular bead or finding. There’s always something I can use.

Q: What’s the ONE thing you would change about your studio if you could?

A: There’s never enough beads! I know I’m singing the song of our people here, but I need more beads!

Q: What’s your favorite beading tool?

A: I love my Tulip beading needles. They’re so much easier to thread than any other needles I’ve tried, and they hold up to my abuse. I’ve broken and bent more needles than I care to admit.

We’re so excited to have Meredith on the Beadworkmagazine staff. Please join us in welcoming Meredith to Beadwork!

Happy beading!
Lavon Peters
Managing Editor, Beadwork magazine

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