Katie Dean: Bead Flowers

katieDeanThis week, something fun to read over the Christmas break. We talk to Katie Dean about her business Bead Flowers.

“I do beadwork. The first question that arises for most people is, ‘what is beadwork’? The simple answer is using beads to make things. Part of what I make is jewellery, but I also make wedding bouquets and various other beaded ornaments and gifts – three-dimensional objects if you will. I started beading in 2003, but I only turned this hobby into a business in 2012.”

“Basically I just love creating. I have done a number of crafts over the years, but beading is the one that I find completely addictive. I have taught myself and I use a really wide range of traditional techniques that date back for centuries. Some of these involve using needle and thread to sew beads together. I also use needle and thread for bead embroidery, so that is sewing beads onto fabric. Other techniques involve using wire. For example, the French Beading techniques that I use to make the wedding bouquets involve threading thousands of tiny seed beads onto wire, then shaping this to make the flowers. So I love the variety in what I do and I love the challenge. By picking the most appropriate technique, it is possible to make literally anything with beads! I dream up ideas all the time and the challenge, and thrill, lies in engineering the beads to realise my dreams.”

“I only really discovered beads through illness. Back in 2002, I collapsed on the way into work one morning. I ended up spending five years on sick leave. My world literally collapsed around me and the life that I had, the A1:I118rome, or M.E. This is a life sentence: little is known about the illness and not enough research is being carried out. Anyway, a few months into this, I saw a book with a three-dimensional beaded rose on the front cover and I was simple awed by the idea that it was possible to make something like this from beads. So I had to get the book and find out how it was done! The rest is history really. I discovered that this rose had been made using French Beading, so I taught myself that. I then moved on to learn technique after technique, all the time using what I learnt to design my own creations. I entered a couple of competitions, then my work was spotted and I was invited to submit some designs to beading magazines and things just gradually grew from there. By 2007 I returned to my old job (Strategy Consultant) part time, but as I tried to increase my hours, so the ME worsened and I had to keep taking prolonged periods off sick again. All the time, the beading kept me going. It was relaxing and it gave my life some sort of purpose. By 2012 it had become clear that I would never return to my old job, but my health had improved enough to allow me to do some work with the beading. So I took the plunge and accepted a retirement package (I was only 36 at this time!), but with the knowledge that I couldn’t afford to retire from a financial standpoint. So I began doing various part-time things in the beading world: teaching, still designing, writing books, now editing the beading magazine that first published my work. The ME still dictates what I can and can’t do, but I’ve got pretty good at managing the beadwork around the illness and I really love my new life now.”

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