Monday, February 14, 2011

The Creation Process -- A Love for Beads

Many people have asked me which comes first, the bead or the idea?

For me, in most cases it’s the bead.  I see a bead and almost immediately I see a design in my head.  Sometimes I have such a visceral attraction to that bead that I have to take home the strand and immediately drop everything I’m doing and make that bracelet RIGHT NOW.

Necklace in my own collection.
Sometimes I don’t see the design in my head, but the bead still speaks to me.  There’s something about it – be it its beauty, its quirkiness, its uniqueness, its SOMETHING – that speaks to me and says, “Must.  Buy.  Now.”  I have some beads in my cabinet that have been there for a couple of years that I haven’t used yet, but I can’t bear to part with them because that magnetism hasn’t left me yet.  Occasionally, that “thing” that made me cling to them fades and I can finally create with them and send them on to loving homes, but I never forget them.

Acorns by Julie Nordine, Pod by Stephanie Sersich, and boro bead by the late Shannon Hill, all still in my personal collection.

I do have some sketchbooks, and at times, while unsuccessfully trying to get to sleep, I’ll flip on the light and write out an idea, but really, it’s all about the beads, their colors and textures and shapes.  They speak to me. 

And I listen.

 Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.


  1. Anonymous9:38 AM

    What a GORGEOUS necklace! Sometimes things just speak to you and you got to act :) Happy Valentine's Day!

  2. Love the necklace! I go pretty much of the same process as you do for beads...that's why I have some I haven't used and some that must be used immediately!

  3. I hear voices too! Beady ones, that is. Sometimes I get a design idea and then have to go hunt up things to make it happen but my favorite pieces are the ones, like you said, can't wait. They have to be made NOW!

  4. Hoarding beads is a favorite hobby of mine. I buy beads that speak to me too. And I am stingy with them. Otherwise I would just go nuts and use them all in one piece! Delayed gratification.... I do sometimes have an idea that needs to be made, but often it is the materials that speak to me and tell me what they want to be.
    Thank you for sharing that glimpse into your creative process.
    Enjoy the day.

  5. Wow, what a beautiful necklace!

  6. I have a couple in my collection like that.

  7. I always wonder how it works out in other peoples heads. I originally wanted to be an illustrator but wanted to just make and planning out something takes away for me. I like to see the baed and go! I always want to plan ( and think it would be more economical to do so) but it just never happens. Lovwe those little happy acorns!

  8. I'm a bead first, idea second kind of gal too. Now, the timing between bead and idea can vary from nanoseconds to five years.

  9. Those acorns are AMAZING!! Off to find Julie Nordine...

  10. Love. love your necklace. Reminds me of a set I made with all Nina Bali beads - still one of my favorites.
    For me sometimes the bead is my inspiration, other times it's a design I want to make and then choose the beads. But I love those aha moments when the beads and design melt together effortlessly.

  11. It's amazing how they get a hold on us and don't let go. That necklace is so pretty.

  12. this phenomenon crosses mediums ...I'm a quilter and fabric creates the same mystic. Fabric takes up more room than my beads do - so far - the sewing room is overflowing...time to part with more pieces!

  13. Oh I am learning the hoarding process and I have such great teachers. I love when you are inspired.

  14. I wish I could envision bracelets and necklaces...I have a bazillion beads and whenever I sit down to try to make something, I always get discouraged with the product, thinking it's too normal and doesn't really stand out. So I just have a box of really pretty beads, all by their lonesome.

  15. What a pretty little thing, that necklace! I hope the beads continue their conversation with your creativity.

  16. That necklace is amazing, love it.
    I hoard beads too, especially lamp work bead and just know I will never part with some of them.
    I do have difficulty knowing exactly what to do with some of them, I think I need to buy more components.....
    Yes, buy more beads, that's it!
    Thanks for sharing your design process.
    Now to look at those acorns......!

  17. That's exactly how I am with gemstones! They just beg to have a setting created for them and I have to drop everything and get started!

    Metal clay can be anything, any shape, a focal, a setting, that's why I am so addicted! Jump in and get dirty and you'll surprise yourself. Your beads will love to be partnered up with fine silver!

  18. It's always interesting to see how inspiration strikes! While beads definitely speak to me, and will suggest ideas, those ideas often follow along themes that I know interest me.

    My work tends to focus around story, so if a bead starts telling me its story, then I'm good to go!

    And I agree with lunedreams - love those acorns!

  19. Okay, now I'd LOVE to see those acorns in a piece...they are lovely! I agree, the beads or a link are definately usually what inspires me.

  20. I am such a hoarder of beads. Always hate letting go, I mean using them, but when I do finally it's like aaaahhhhhh, this is what it was meant for, PERFECT!

    Sometimes I start with a bead, other times I just have a complete design idea in my head. I'm terrible about writing ideas/sketches out, it just never seems to work for me.

  21. Anonymous11:16 PM

    Lori, you know that's one of my all-time favorite necklaces. It is even more luscious in person.

  22. Anonymous11:42 AM

    It's the same for me!

    I do churn out some ideas on paper, but really most of the creative stuff just comes about when I'm sorting and playing with my supplies!

    lace, paper, you name artists we just need to sit and play with our yummy supplies and voila! a masterpiece is born!

    great piece!

    thanks for sharing this! I love your creations!

    ciao bella

    Creative Carmelina

  23. It's funny I have sketches but I've never used them. Usually I lay out the beads and see what I see and that is where the design comes from. Sometimes I admit I take designs apart and start over but I'm ok with that. And I have some beads that I bought because I loved them but I haven't found a design for them yet.

  24. I love hearing about what inspires you!

  25. Lori, I really know what you mean about the beads speaking to you. I have that same thing about found objects, little bijoux that I just have to have, I'll see them and an idea just materializes!

  26. These are gorgeous! I love that they have so much texture to them, it makes me want to reach into my computer and touch them! Beautiful!

  27. What a wonderful"ART"bead collection.


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