Meet Liisa Turunen and Glenda Paunonen, Beadwork Designers of the Year

This is the last blog post in a series on the new Beadwork Designers of the Year. You've met Christina Neit and Leslee Frumin last month and Laura Andrews earlier this month.  Now meet the mother-and-daughter design team Glenda Paunonen and Liisa Turunen.  Check out their beautiful designs in the February/March issue:  Icelandia by Christina Neit, Dramatic Deco Necklace by Glenda Paunonen and Liisa Turunen, Spiky Dangles by Laura Andrews, and Dewdrops Pendant by Leslee Frumin. It's going to be a wonderful year!

~Michelle Mach, Contributing Editor

How did you get started with beads?  What was your first project?

Liisa: I got started beading in 1994 when my mom opened her bead store. The first project I remember doing was pearl knotting a strand of cat’s eye stone beads.

Glenda: I spotted a pair of rose quartz and silver earrings at the department store and thought, "I can make that!" That started my 24-year-old career (so far) in beading.

What are your favorite stitches? Favorite beads or other materials?

Liisa: I love all stitches, but find right-angle weave and peyote to be the most useful. I love to combine both stitches. My favorite beads have to be crystals and cylinder beads.

Glenda:  Lets just say there isn't a stitch that I don't like. Every stitch has its good and bad points; they are all useful somewhere.  I can honestly say I love everything except plastic. I can't get into that.

Tell me about the project pictured here.  Why did you create it?  What's special about it?

Liisa: The Windows of Sainte Chapelle [pictured at right] was a year in the making. The idea was to make it look like a fine piece of jewelry. The shape of the crystal stones were what formed the design in my head. I obsessed about this one, trying to get it just right.

Glenda: I love to get inspiration from metal pieces and then recreate the look and feel in beads. The Ravenna Cross [pictured at left] was meant to look like an gold and silver cross with gemstones and pearls that I saw on my trip to Ravenna.

Do you teach?  What do you enjoy about teaching?

Liisa: I have taught for many years all levels of beaders from beginners to advanced project classes. The part of teaching I enjoy most has to be watching my students accomplish the projects.

Glenda: I own a bead shop and have been in business since 1990. When I started I didn't know anything about beading. Now I teach over 100 different classes at the shop as well as major shows, bead societies, and local groups. I love teaching and inspiring beaders.

Has your work won awards?  Do you sell your finished work or kits?

Liisa: I actually won third place in the metals category of a magazine contest, which is funny because I work more in seed beads. I sell my finished work and kits. Right now I am making customized pendants in an effort to fund raise for my local shelter and selling them on Etsy.

Glenda: I do sell my kits and instructions at my shop in West Palm Beach Florida and on the website.

What is your studio like?  How do you work?  Is there a certain time of day you prefer to work?  Do you work on more than one project at once?

Liisa: My studio is my whole house. I have a corner of the living room where I can spread out and have my cats and cat toys around me at all times. I work all hours of the day, but tend to be a night owl and stay up late. There are always multiple projects going on at once!

Glenda: I work on lots and lots of projects at a time. Since I am running the shop I don't have a lot of time to "sit" and bead, even though I do bead almost every day. I have a little tray that I work on while watching TV.  Beads and projects are all over my house. I like it best when I get an inspiration and then can run with it. Most of the designs that I have made came to me in a flash. Then I just had to work out the details. Plus, you have to give yourself time to just play with the beads. 

Is there anything else you'd like to share with Beadwork readers?

Liisa: Just that I find beading to be very therapeutic and relaxing.  I want to remind my fellow beaders to enjoy the process—even the changing of the threads!

Glenda:  I feel it is vital that people have creative outlets. Beading is a perfect hobby!

Thank you, Liisa and Glenda! I'll bet a lot of readers can identify with having beads or projects all over the house.  (Mine never stay in the designated studio space!)  Visit Glenda's bead shop at and Liisa's Etsy shop at

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