Meet Leslee Frumin, Beadwork Designer of the Year
This is the second blog post in a series of interviews with the new Beadwork Designers of the Year. You met Christina Neit earlier this month. Now meet Leslee Frumin. Interviews with Laura Andrews and the design team Liisa Turunen and Glenda Paunonen will be posted in January. Enjoy!
~Michelle Mach, Contributing Editor
How did you get started with beads?
As a child I dabbled with beads using the little metal beading loom and creating seed bead and wire rings. I was always doing something craft-oriented. I started out stringing, adding metalwork in 1986 and beading in 1994. Then I attended a meeting of the Great Lakes Beadworkers Guild, where I saw work I had never seen before. I attended classes and honed my skills with bead stitching.
What are your favorite stitches? Beads and materials?
I use whichever stitch will get the design done. Often I use multiple stitches. I like to explore stitches and see what is possible with them. I love sparkly things, especially crystals and pearls mixed with seed beads.
Tell me about some of your designs.
Crystal Elements (pictured here) is an example of exploring shapes. I decided I wanted to create a triangle. I thought about the corners for a long time before I worked how to create the shape. Once I created the triangle, I went on to design the square. I followed up with other shapes (pentagon, hexagon, and other elliptical shapes) in Crystal Elements II and III. In my Pearl Palace series, I was exploring working with different size pearls. Sometimes I translate metal work techniques into beadwork as in Treasure Chain and More Treasures. There are so many possibilities with textures and colors that get me excited!
Do you teach? If so, what do you enjoy about it?
I teach all over the country in stores, for bead guilds, and at shows. While I have taught metalwork (soldering and fabrication), I primarily teach off-loom beadweaving. I love to teach because people attending classes want to be there—and that’s fun! I enjoy meeting people and it’s fun to see other people’s color aesthetics.
Has your work ever been exhibited or sold?
I started metalwork and beading while living in Michigan. The first place I exhibited and won awards was at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. I have exhibited in other shows as well. Currently, I have a purse displayed in Japan with Toho Beads.
I sell my work infrequently. Usually, I sell once a year for a fundraiser at a college (Saddleback College) in Orange County, California. I do sell kits and patterns on my website and at trunk shows where I teach.
What is your studio like? Your work schedule?
My studio is a jam-packed with materials, finished work, kits, camera set up, display, etc. It is overwhelming at times. I work at all times of the day. Tasks vary between doodling with beads, working on samples, writing instructions, putting together kits and trying to keep up with all of the above! I work on multiple projects. Some projects take a nap while others get done.
Is there anything you would like to share?
I had to learn basics—threading a needle, getting knots out, etc.—just like everyone else. I am still learning! Designing often takes several to many attempts. Persistence and patience are keys to success. I know I am lucky to be able to work my passion. I thank my lucky stars each day!
Thank you, Leslee! It's encouraging to be reminded that experienced designers started with the same basics as everyone else. Visit www.lesleefrumin.com to learn more about Leslee, including her class schedule and kits. You'll also find a photo gallery with more designs, including some of the ones mentioned in this interview.