Design Insights ~ A Life’s Journey

Design Insights~ A Life's Journey

Canada Beading Supply in partnership with the Grand River Bead Society and the Toronto Bead Society is sponsoring a Zoom presentation on Wednesday March 15, 2023 at 7pm with World renowned bead artist Virginia Blakelock. She will be covering her journey as a bead artist and sharing design insights she has learned along the way.

Virginia Blakelock

Virginia has been beading since she was a child beginning with an “Indian Bead Loom” kit. Her horizons were expanded at age 13 when she lived in West Pakistan for four years where there was a bead stall in the local market. After Art School and a move to Oregon, she encountered beads once again and decided in 1973 to concentrate her artistic pursuits on beading. 

A major impetus to her career was a 1988 Threads magazine article about her career with beautiful photos of her amazing work. Her Moth necklace was particularly impressive. That article generated the greatest response of any article in Threads up to that point. This prompted her a year later, to self-publish the book “Those Bad, Bad Beads”. It was the first book in decades that provided information about working with seed beads. Virginia inspired a number of people such as Carole Wilcox and Diane Fitzgerald who then went on to become famous themselves.

Virginia and her business partner Carol Perrenoud founded Bead Cats, Inc (also known as the Synergetics, Inc. Bead store.) They had one of the first mail-order bead businesses in North America. Since there were not many Bead Stores in the 1980’s, the two women toured the country in a 1975 Cadillac limousine making beads available to a growing number of enthusiasts as well as teaching. 

This talk is not going to be just about her journey. Virginia says “Designing with beads is not easy, and I have made a LOT of really, really ugly things. I still struggle with coming up with colour combinations that I like. Beads are not at all like pigments you place on a canvas or sheet of paper. They are like glass, they live with the light, and seeing how they look “en masse” (together,) is usually not at all how they look when individual beads are placed together. How often have you been disappointed when what seemed like a great design, with great colours, fell completely on it’s face?

“There are some basic premises that govern the interplay of glass types (e.g.. opaque vs transparent) with surface finishes (e.g.. AB, matte, etc.)  When I realized this, I began teaching classes in which each student made a sample with the same design and colours, but with different types of glass and surface finishes. Then, we talked about how the beads behaved. Did the beads support the design or sabotage it? Using my work and class samples I will share my design insights with you, as I tell the story of my life’s journey as a bead artist. I hope you will come away from this presentation with new eyes for your own work.” 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *