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BellaOnline's Beadwork Editor


Artist Focus; Barb Grainger

I went into my local beadstore one day looking for a new book, and asked a friend what she would recommend. She knew I liked books with lovely techniques more then pattern books usually. She recommended Barb Grainger's Dimensional Flowers,Leaves and Vines. I got it, and was astounded. Gorgeous 3 dimensional projects, explained clearly, with wonderful diagrams. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn to make gorgeous sculptured flowers, elegant floral beaded necklaces. The first thing I made from the book was a netted flower, which I put on a barrette. Really new techniques for me, ideas for netting which never occurred to me.
Her first book Peyote At Last is a wonderful primer for people wanting to learn peyote stitch. It includes several techniques and stitches. Peyote Design Techniques is a fantastic lesson on designing patterns using peyote stitch, it explains the best way to use basic math skills to design lovely intricate patterns. You can see her website here.

I had the chance to interview Barb, I hope you enjoy the interview.

How/When did you start beading?

I have been beading in one form of another ever since I can remember.
My very earliest memories of beads are about age 6 or 7. I was in the beginning level of Girl Scouts and they taught us to do loomwork. Unfortunately, we moved before I finished my project and I had to leave it with them. Then I created my own necklaces with pop beads in the 1950's. I married at 18 and I started designing earrings and micro-macrame jewelry which we sold to shops and friends. Remembering my unfinished loomwork from when I was a child, I bought a loom at a craft store and retaught myself to bead. A few years later I met a woman who taught me how to start a peyote project. I loved not having to be tied down to a loom and taught myself other techniques from books or experimentation.

Has beading inspired any other types of crafts for you?

Actually, it was the opposite. I have always designed my own things. I did crochet and macrame and micro-macrame for years before I ever learned how to read a pattern. I'd just look at something and then make it. Or just create my own design. So when I got into beadwork again as an adult, it was just natural that I'd design my own pieces.

Did you do many crafts before beading?

What kinds? See question #2.

What's your favorite stitch?

Peyote has to be my stich of choice but I love them all. I love to take a stitch and push it to the limit. I have been working with netting for the past couple years, taking it into the dimensional arena. Of late, herringbone has caught my attention. I developed a new one-step herringbone increase which made dimensional work easier and faster for me. It was published in the October/November 2001 issue of Beadwork magazine in my Ruby Starburst necklace.

What inspires you as a beader?
Everything. I get a lot of inspiration from nature. Sometimes other art inspires me. Sometimes when I look at something I can just 'see' it in beads.

Who inspires you?

Wow. What a question. First of all God. I believe He is my true source of inspiration. In the beadworld, I am inspired by the work of NanC Meinhardt, Cynthia Rutledge, Marcie Stone, David Chatt and of course, the Queen Mother herself, Joyce Scott!

If you were going to recommend one of your books, which one is your personal favorite?

Dimensional Flowers, Leaves & Vines because of book's format the fun projects.

Copyright is a huge issue on the internet. How do you feel about people stitching up your designs for pin money?

Oh girl! Don't get me started here! I struggled with this question for years; should I allow someone to sell my designs? Should I charge them a fee? Should I say no? I am an avid copyright advocate and have fought diligently to make people understand they are stealing if they use a design without permission. When you publish a design in a book, magazine, webzine or workshop it is understood that a person may make a few pieces for personal use or gifts . However, I believe a legal line is crossed when a person starts making pieces and selling them for profit. Especially if they do not give the designer credit. When displaying or selling a piece, the person should make a sign that says, "Beadwork by (your name) design by (artist's name.)" That way, the beader gets credit for all thier work and the designer gets credit also. Now comes the big question - How much money is considered 'pin money' ? $100, $500 or? The best thing to do is to contact the designer to ask permission to make and sell her design. Sometimes designers will give you a blessing and say go for it. Sometimes you may have to pay a 'royalty' fee for using her design. Or sometimes permission may be denied.
I, personally, have had several people approach me on this subject in the past few weeks and we have worked out an agreement we both can live with.
Finally, Suzanne Cooper once told me, "Don't put anything out there that you aren't willing to part with." I have taken her advice. I never release a design now until I am ready to let it go.

Do you bead while watching tv, or while listening to music?
What shows or type of music?

My preference is to have the room silent. But I live in a small place and that isn't always possible. So I do often bead when watching TV. I love the design shows on HGTV. I also watch Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel and Inspirational shows.
Music: Inspirational, Gospel, R&B. LOVE the Blues! I was raised on Country, so that is a 'comfort' music to me.

What time of the day do you bead?

Mostly at night between the hours of 10 PM and 5 AM. I'm a night person.
What cultural influences do you think have the strongest influence on your designs?

None really. I bead from the heart, not from a cultural view.

Do you have a strong aversion to any colors? Colors that are hard for you to design with?

Orange! For years I hated it. Now I am beginning to see how beautiful it can be with other colors.

strong preference?

Silverlined teal!

Do you wear your own beadwork?

Only on special occasions. I live in levis and t-shirts and prefer to keep myself clear of things I might snag. I once closed the car door on my necklace fringe and broke it. Now I only put it on after the car door is closed. LOL

What do you do when a design doesn't work out the way you expected?

Actually, I love it because some of my best pieces have come from 'accidents'. But if I have a special design burning in my heart I'll keep trying until it works. I have a box full of UFO's (unfinished objects) to prove it.

How do you deal with being "bead blocked"?

This is something we all deal with. A few years ago I was totally blocked.
I even toyed with the idea of never beading or designing again. I put my beads away and didn't touch them for a year and took up quilting! But my beads kept calling me and finally one day I made a netted bag. Just the bag and hung it on my dress form. That was strange for me since I didn't like making beaded bags. It sat there for a few weeks and then I started adding parts, fringe, various embellishments and finally the strap. The result was my 'Ice Garden' necklace. It was the first piece I made after being blocked. While I was in that blocked state I read several books on creativity and began to identify why I was blocked. Part of it was that I was so busy making samples for my workshops that I didn't take time to release the real designs that were burning within my spirit. I had pushed them so far back that it was hard to find them. Also, I had trouble really believing I was an artist. Once I recognized what was blocking me I was able to push past it and create again. I also discovered that one reason I hadn't been able to create new pieces was that I didn't have enough beads. Now, I have been collecting beads for 30 years, so that sounds strange. But I couldn't do what was in my heart with only one or two tubes of a each color. I had a vision of white on white. So I ordered two kilos of clear, white-lined beads from Copper Coyote and started collecting all the white beads I could find. Having enough beads released more creativity and my 'Willow Winter' was born. I entered a white phase and everything I worked on for over a year was made with those white beads. Now when I am blocked I take 'soul inventory'. Am I too busy with other things? Am I stressed? Am I working on something that I don't really like? Do I have enough beads ? Do I just need to get away from it for a while?

All images used with permission from Barb Grainger. They are copyrighted to her.

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Content copyright © 2018 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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