At the Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 6-13, the irrepressible Jamie Cloud Eakin will be teaching three classes with fantastic projects: her Royal Fringed Choker, Multi-Cabochon Bracelet, and Wide Wonder Bracelet. Jamie is a popular author, as well as a teacher: Her best-selling Beading with Cabochons has more than 20,000 copies in print, and she is the featured cover-piece designer for Beading with World Beads.
The release of her new book, Bugle Bead Bonanza, gave me a good excuse to chat with this beader from Modesto, California, and find out a little bit about what makes her tick … and bead. And, to celebrate the book’s release, Jamie was generous enough to create a special, beautiful bonus project PDF based on the book, offered specially for the LarkCrafts.com community.
Here’s the great bonus project: Rollin’ Waves Bugle Bead Bracelet.
And now here’s the interview:
Jamie, how did you get started beading?
I’ve always been interested in crafts and especially needlework. I still have some cross-stitch pillowcases that I did when I was in the third grade, and the needlework just evolved into beadwork. When I started beading, there were no bead stores, there was no Internet shopping, and there were very few beading books that I could find. So, I am pretty much self-taught.
Where do you bead? Do you have a special place for it?
I have a space that any artist would love to have! It used to be our family room, but it’s now dedicated to my beading. I call it my studio. I do share it with my cats.
You’re known for the precision of your designs and the accuracy of your instructions. Where do you get your ideas from, and how do you turn them into jewelry projects?
I get my ideas from everywhere and everything. I once was in line at the bank and noticed the hair of a woman I happened to be behind. There were inches of dark roots with gray showing above bleached blonde with red and brown strands, and I thought “Oh, my! What awful hair … and wouldn’t those be fabulous colors for beadwork!” I went home and loomed a pouch in the colors inspired by the woman’s hair colors with lots of fringe. My sister has it now! We refer to it as the “bank lady pouch.”
When I do a stitch or project, I’m always thinking, “What if?” and looking for a new twist or a faster way to do something. It usually takes lots of trial and error before I decide something is just right.
Often it’s just about the beads. I’ll get beads that I love to look at and touch. I want to do justice to the beads, and let the beads be the best they can be.
Which beaders have had the greatest influence on your work?
Virginia Blakelock, Carol Perrenoud, Alice Korach, and Peggy Sue Henry. The first two are names most beaders already know for their amazing beadwork. Alice was the founding editor of Bead & Button magazine, and she is a fabulous beader, designer, and author. Peggy Sue Henry wrote the 12-volume series Beads to Buckskins. They were my sources of inspiration. Just looking at their work led me to believe that if you can imagine it, you can bead it.
Why do a book about bugle beads?
Bugle beads have fascinated me for a long time. They’re small, so they’re versatile like seed beads, but they’re also big in that they’re long, so you really get that punch of color. I always like it when you can bead faster, and bugles fit that bill too. Instead of picking up five seeds, you can pick up one bugle and cover the same distance. Yet, there can be tricky aspects to bugles with the edge of the bead. So, it was a fun challenge to create designs that would actually work without cutting threads.
In Bugle Bead Bonanza, there are six color “families” featured in the book’s designs. What was your thinking here? And which family is your favorite personally?
I’ve learned from teaching classes and being a member of bead groups that there are lots of beading “visions” out there. I wanted to provide not just instructions, but also inspiration for people who have the book. By looking at the same “core” instructions, yet seeing it with different colors and in different size and shapes for the beads, beaders can more easily find their own vision and match their taste.
My personal favorite has to be the Safari designs, but then I look at the other ones and think, well, maybe Elegant. Or maybe Festive. Do I have to choose?
I won’t make you! Jamie, what trends are you seeing in beading right now? What’s the next hot thing out there?
The next hot thing will probably be decided by technology. The advances in the design of beads, the new finishes on beads, and the variety of materials used to make beads are all really amazing to consider from my historic perspective.
I remember when Delicas were first introduced in the U.S. My mouth watered when I saw them. Now it seems there are affordable beads in every shape, size, and color that are easily available. Older, vintage beads are also more available. These beads will inspire designers and beaders, advanced and beginners alike.
Do you do any other crafts these days?
I still do some sewing, but I have to admit that my beading is a passion that I don’t like to be away from.
Tell me one thing that might surprise your readers.
Probably that I am also a CPA. I find most people that meet me as a creative person are surprised when they learn that I am by education and experience a bean counter! Likewise, my accounting and finance associates are surprised by my beadwork. I guess I’m a contradiction.
What does a great Jamie Cloud Eakin day look like?
Sometimes, when things get to be too crazy and too much — everyone knows what I mean — I need to take what I call a “Pizza Day.” That is a day where I am in my studio beading all day long — no phone, no Internet, and the only person I see all day long is the pizza delivery guy!