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BellaOnline's Beadwork Editor


Artist Focus: Bette Kelley

I first became aware of Bette Kelley's work through the galleries of some of my beading books, and magazines. Gorgeous broadcollars with an amazing understanding of color, combinations I wouldn't imagine on my own that just worked gorgeously together. Since then, she's got a webpage with books and kits to help others to learn. Phoenix Rising, her site has a gallery, information on how to buy her kits and books. Wonderful necklaces that I think would make someone feel like royalty to wear. Her gallery is pure eyecandy with stories about the inspirations of the pieces in it.

Bette Kelley's Quetzal

How/When did you start beading?
The first time around was in the 70's when we were all trying to be hippies. A friend was changing income sources-shall we say-and he and a partner went to Egypt and bought 44 kilos of trade beads and needed someone to help sort whose "consciousness" wasn't altered.I was paid with beads. Still wear a ring with a broken trade bead of a pattern I've seen no where else. I was also teaching in one of Pres. Johnson's Great Society programs- an after school and evening arts program and constantly needed new "things" to teach-so I blithely said I could teach beading (along with macrame and stained glass-didn't know how to do those either- see philosophy above) The latest time around I needed to do something different with my life- I'd had a REALLY BAD year-lots of death,bad jobs, unhappy husband etc-he suggested I take an art class somewhere to ward off the ever enveloping depression- I ended up at Split Rock with Carol and Virginia-the first day was Peyote on a pencil- mine is still 1/4" long-that was really really bad night-the next day we learned broad collar basics- ladders and netting and I was hooked!

Has beading inspired any other types of crafts for you?
I'm more inspired by color, texture and trying to communicate my thoughts or feelings or landscapes etc-for the last 12 yrs broad collars have been the format-

Did you do many crafts before beading? What kinds?
I've always done stuff- I always tell folks, I'm someone who makes things-art/craft is sort of the family thing/business on both side of the family- my earlies memories are of making my first Christmas cards- they were block printed and my Dad had to do the pressing,carving-I got to ink and then put glitter on them- I was 5! I learned to sew when I was 8, was making my own clothes at 10 and getting paid for sewing at 14. I've taught people to do everything you can think of-I draw poorly, though am currently motivated to practice and get better. I've almost always made what passes for a living with some sort of artwork- My "professions" have been sewing, costuming,stained glass, and beads.

What's your favorite stitch?
ladders, netting, -my 3d fringe

What inspires you as a beader?
color, texture, nature,places I've seen-

Who inspires you?
Barbara Berg!( for beads) anyone who does something well-

If you were going to recommend one of your books, which one is your personal favorite?
I assume you mean Beading books- well mine of course-said the Egotist! otherwise-It's To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- hands down the very best ever

Copyright is a huge issue on the internet. How do you feel about people stitching up your designs for pin money?
I don't like it obviously-my firsthand experience was a woman on the show circuit who was "copying" my designs- and not well- her defense was that she was "inspired" by me- mostly I feel sad that someone can't/won't/doesn't come up with their own designs-I wish they'd at least give me credit- I have several folks who've asked-all I ask for is credit- I also believe in karma- a friend once said (and I believe him) if you give someone enough rope, they'll eventually hang themselves- the trouble is having the patience to wait.

Do you bead while watching tv, or while listening to music?
What shows or type of music? I'm addicted to Books on Tape-this feels like confession time- otherwise I listen to classical or ethnic- Before the Rain is my favorite- a soundtrack from a Macedonian movie-or CD's from the group I costume- Rhythm in Shoes-

What time of the day do you bead?
Daytime-the light isn't good at night, though deadlines of any kind always can change that.

What cultural influences do you think have the strongest influence on your designs?
The standard answer would be Egyptian,Central American and Native American-but the real truth is anything that I see and like

Do you have a strong aversion to any colors? Colors that are hard for you to design with?
gold- not metallic gold, but like ambers-though not real amber-and pond scum green-that algae color that eveyone really likes and reminds me of the VW bug colors in the 70's.

A strong preference?
Gosh-depends on what day it is-I love blues and purples and browns and and and and.........

Do you wear your own beadwork?
Yes-whenever I dress up-mostly in Stratford-though it depends on where we go-

What do you do when a design doesn't work out the way you expected?
If I like it, I go with it- if I don't, it goes to the "we'll look at you later bin"

How do you deal with being "bead blocked"?
This has rarely happened-I usually have a folder with pictures of colors combinations I like and a list I keep handy-I also bribe myself- OK- there's this really good book and I can only listen if I'm working-usually works!
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Content copyright © 2015 by Shala Kerrigan. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Shala Kerrigan. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Shala Kerrigan for details.


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