Beads on the Kennebec

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Sue Daigle
Japanese Braiding

A native Mainer, I grew up knitting,sewing, and quilting; fibers and cloth have always fascinated me. But oddly enough, I decided to go to college and get an engineering technology Bachelor's Degree; not much money in fiber arts back then for me! I moved out of state and returned a few years later in 1987 to raise a family.
Three years ago I was forced to quit my part time proofreading job due to health reasons but I still needed to supplement the family income somehow. I'm still not sure how I chose jewelry design but after picking up my first beading magazine I was hooked. Beading and stringing necklaces were very popular but they weren't one of my strengths. So I looked for a fiber art/craft that would include beads and fill my designing needs. My passion for fiber, be it yarn, silk, or cord, took me to the ancient craft/art of kumihimo, Japanese braiding. I taught myself as there was no one who could help me. Braiding allows me to work
with endless combinations of fibers and beads. And there are many different braid structures, so the possibilities are endless.
The next step was to decide on a business name: Beads On Hand. (Sort of working with whatever beads I had on hand.) Now I share my love of braiding by teaching at Beads on the Kennebec in Augusta, Maine. In the last year, working with Dawn Howard in California, I designed a necklace using her painted beads and my braids that took second place in a color challenge on the Starving Artists jewelry forum.
While braiding I realized that there were no clasps that met my needs so I learned a few rudimentary wire working skill and developed my own. These were recently included in the BEADS 2008 beading resource magazine
and included in the "Editor's Picks". I can be contacted: Susan Daigle

 

Brian Quirion
Polymer Clay Beads

RAISING CANE
Having decorated literally thousands of cakes and pastries for a multitude of tastes, and having once thumbed through my wife's subscription of POLYMER CAFE it was only natural for me to assume that making beads out of little bits of clay would be, well, a "piece of cake" . What I hadn't yet realized, even as I shaped my first hand-molded clay rosette, was how versatile a medium polymer clay can be. And unlike gum-paste, fondant or chocolate, it doesn't melt in your hot little hands if you take more than a minute to shape it" just right".
Then I made the mistake of "thumbing through" a multitude of other polymer clay-friendly publications. It wasn't long before I realized that #1) the possibilities were endless, and #2) I wouldn't be getting much sleep for awhile. It is quite conceivable that almost anything can be made out of this stuff. You can mold, roll, twist, spread, shape, squeeze, stencil, emboss and pull polymer clay into just about any variety of ways one could imagine. You can get this stuff in every color of the rainbow and if these don't suit you, just mix a few colors together to suit your needs. In fact, it seems, the only limit to what you can do is your own imagination. As you can tell, I'm hooked.
I enjoy caning. Now THAT'S a sentence that I'm sure I'd never have said were it not for my wife. She thumbed through a polymer clay magazine, saw something pretty, handed it to me and said "make this". It looked complicated. I would have to roll one color, flatten and roll another, learn the skinner-blend technique, then put it all together, then cut it in half and squeeze, stretch, roll, twist, slice, assemble etc. Thinking that this would be nothing but a labor of love, I gave it a shot. And now I can't stop. No matter how you slice it, clay beads rock! Geometry, symmetry, ingenuity. What's not to love? Every husband should consider doing this for their wives. Not only will you have an excuse to buy a new toolbox - to store your clay, tools and pasta roller (did I forget to mention, you should invest in one of these), but when she tells you about the beautiful strand of turquoise she saw at the jewelers, you can simply tell her you'd love to make her as many as she'd like to have.

 


Johanna Bierwirth

Johanna Bierwirth, a current resident of Alton, has been a resident of the Greater Waterville area for over 20 years. Having been an avid beader for most of her adult life, she has sold her own beaded designs for the past 8+ years. She's had the opportunity to study bead art and develop her beading skills with a number of well known bead artists. She willingly shares her aquired knowledge and expertise through classes at a number of Mid-Maine bead shops and Adult Education Systems.

Johanna has also developed three high quality, easy to use and affordable looms that are made right here in Maine with Maine products. Visit the shop to view these wonderful beading tools.

 

 


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