Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Inspiration: Bead Creative with Nancy Eha

Picture this: it's a dark and snowy night. You're on your way home from work and stop "just for a minute" to browse at the local library. You wander the stacks, looking for creative inspiration, when a book catches your eye. It's all about beaded embroidery. You flip through the pages ... and realize 15 minutes later that you're still rooted to the spot.

This is what happened to me several weeks ago when I found a copy of Nancy Eha's first book, Off the Beadin' Path. A couple of things struck me about this book:

  1. It was self-published by the author. 
  2. The patterns included in the book were simple and easy to follow (this really struck me because I'm not very good at following patterns. I tend to get confused, so mostly look at the diagrams and figure stuff out as I go). 
  3. The tone of the book was friendly and down-to-earth. In fact, I learned later that Nancy was previously a classroom teacher. It definitely comes across in her writing and instructions, which I found clear and without a lot of extraneous detail. 
After skimming the book at home over the next several days, I contacted Nancy to tell her how much I was enjoying it (side note: I've contacted several authors in this way and Nancy is one of the few who wrote back. And wait until you hear what she wrote!). 

I tried one of the most simple beading stitches when I created this upcycled slip dress. It was so much fun! I had to keep going so started working on a vintage bib/collar thing. In the meantime something exciting happened: Nancy visited my blog. Then she sent me a nice email reply to my 'thank you' email. 
It turns out that Nancy has been very busy! She's written two more, full-color books since the first. One is titled, Bead Creative Like Crazy, and the second, Bead Creative Art Quilts. Both appeared packed with great information and instruction. 

Nancy offered to send me a free copy of Bead Creative Like Crazy. It was slightly worn, she said, and one that she wouldn't feel comfortable selling. It was mine if I wanted it. Yes, please! In return, I agreed to mention it here on Joy Creates, if I found it helpful. 

Well, I'm sure you can guess that I did find it helpful. Though I haven't yet made it to the end, I've already learned a few techniques which will save me lots of time on future projects. I love the brightly colored photos and again, the simple and easy-to-understand directions. Plus, Nancy's tone is very friendly and not at all "preachy." 

Even if I do get stuck, Nancy has a bunch of free video tutorials. I found this one particularly helpful: 

Downsides: With any book there are bound to be a few downsides, right? 
  1. The spine of the book: if it were to lie flat when opened, that would be super helpful. It's hard to follow the directions and hold the book open with your other hand. 
  2. An index would be helpful. There are times when I'm looking for a bit of specific information, and an index would come in handy. 
Overall, I'd highly recommend this book, particularly for beginning bead embroidery learners like myself. I'm not new to hand sewing or embroidery per say but it's been a long time since I've worked with needles in this way. And never with beads before. 

I'm looking forward to finishing the book and applying more of the techniques and different stitches to future projects. 

In addition to the books, Nancy offers free online tutorials, classes (paid), beading supplies and will even teach at events. She's been beading on fabric for more than 25 years (!) so obviously has a lot of knowledge to share. Be sure to check out her website, www.beadcreative.com for more information. If you like her work, drop her a line, I'm sure she'd love to hear from you. 

Have you tried beaded embroidery? If so, what are some of your favorite pieces? If not, are you interested in it? 

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