Seed-Beading Lessons in the Clouds: High on Bead Stitching

As many of you Beading Daily readers know, I recently came clean on the fact that I'd never done seed beading. Shortly after my confession, I had a lovely seed-bead soiree with my peeps, so my secret is no longer a secret. In fact, it's turned into a full-blown addiction. I was warned, teased, and humored by many of you, so I went in with eyes wide open. I just wasn't prepared for round #2 so soon.
  Pandora's seed-bead box

A week after my seed-bead experience, I found myself on a plane sitting beside the marvy Melinda Barta, editor of Beadwork magazine. We were Cleveland-bound to tape segments for Beads, Baubles, and Jewels and Melinda's new bead-stitch DVDs. I brought stacks of magazines for the long flight. Melinda had a box. It was old and a bit banged up. I wondered why she held it so tightly as we boarded the plane. What precious cargo could be in such a box? As she lifted off the lid, I gasped with delight! It was filled with seed beads of many colors, shapes, and sizes. She handed me a needle and thread and told me to pick out some beads. I sputtered with a resistant, "But I've only peyote-stitched a few inches." She brushed me off with "whatever" and I dove in. First: How fun is it to pick out beads from someone else's stash? And second: Melinda Barta's stash, to be specific!

Flying in circles

Here's a recap of the trip. So far, the most difficult part of seed beading has been starting out. The beads look wonky, and I forget how the bead path goes. Melinda was right next to me to guide me whenever a bead strayed. She encouraged me with positive comments about my thread tension and color choices, which spurred me on to bead even more fervently.

  Halfway through the trip Melinda announced I was ready to move onto circular peyote! Gulp: Another cup of java from the flight attendant, and I grabbed some new thread. Melinda helped me maneuver through the nuances of this stitch variation and showed me how to make her signature peyote stitched "buttons" by stitching two different-sized circles together. 
  Sleepless in Cleveland

I was up past my bedtime each and every night, eyes bloodshot from beading away the hours. I simply couldn't stop! In the a.m., I was glad for a professional makeup artist to work her magic with my dark circles. I was taught by the best-of-the-best, crËme-de-la-crËme, top-drawer instructor Melinda Barta. And I'm here to testify how great instruction, a FAB teacher, and even a plane ride can change your beading life. 

I stitched these beadwork pieces on the ride home. Poor Melinda was trying to nap. "Are you asleep? I whispered. Melinda, her eyes closed, would respond, "Yes, what did you forget?" "How to start," I'd say, and the dear girl would help me out again!
Of time and teachers

Without the inspiration, expertise, and girl-time with my bud and seed-bead cheerleader, Melinda, I could not have created these bead-stitched beauties. Sure I have books and DVDs, but sometimes committing to learning is what you really need! Plus, nothing stirs that deeply simmering pot of potential creativity in you as much as a great teacher, workshop, or class. 

They awake your inner artist, a self that may have been sleeping. Melinda certainly stirred my pot. She helped smooth out the bumps (literally and figuratively) in my seed beading. She brainstormed with me on what to make and how to finish it. And she helped me stay on track every other step along the way.  

I've been seed beading for two weeks now: How far I've come in learning a whole new technique! I know I'm on an accelerated path thanks to one-on-one instruction from Melinda. Having a great teacher is like creative adrenaline. Being a student and learning a new thing, dreaming of seed-bead designs and that next bracelet. Simply getting excited again (by something other than chocolate), these are the joys that keep us beading.


My deep thanks to Melinda for the impact she's had on me as a jewelry artist and for my new beading addiction, I mean career. My bank account doesn't see it the same way, but then you can't please everyone/thing, right?!
Having hours of personalized seed-beading time on a plane was a special gift. But you, too, can sign up for quality time with your favorite teacher or learn a new technique at Bead Fest Philly. I promise: if you do, you'll take flight!

Come bead with me.




FREE Bracelet Project


Create Melinda Barta's bracelet, Flower Burst, by making dozens of three-dimensional wire wrapped-loop dangles with colorful pearls and pressed-glass flowers, rondelles, daggers, and beads. This bracelet, was part of the Beadwork magazine challenge for June/July 2007.


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