Interview with a Spiritual Influence

Meet Meagan, a person I met on SwapSity.  Meagan knows how to say just enough and leaves you wanting more. Without giving anything away I can tell you I benefited when Meagan recently reduced her glass beads  ‘stash’. As soon as I can I’ll be making some glass bead artisan jewellery.

H: Who are you in your ‘real’ life?

M: Good question! My real life is a work in progress. All I can say is that I am interested in tons of different things.

H: What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it? Do you still have it?

M: I remember making cloud nametag pins with my mom when I was a kid. She’s a big crafter of all sorts of things. I think she still has the pins in her house womewhere.

H: Describe your work area: what is the best thing and the worst thing about your space?

M: I work at my desk. I like to be able to look at my computer because  I’m still learning some of the finer aspects of making prayer beads and I use lots of tutorials and pictures for inspiration. I have one of those slide out keyboard trays and my bead cloth is on that. It’s a good use of the space, although I wish the lighting were a little better.

H: What is your medium of choice?

M: I’m a beader. I used to make fashion jewellery and I’m starting to make prayer beads now.

H: What are your favourite materials?

M: I love natural materials. I’ve always been drawn to simple, functional things that are close to nature. The less polished the better! It is my dream to learn to whittle my own wooden beads.

H: What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from? Do your other interests play a part in your designs?

M: I often get ideas just from seeing interesting shapes and colours in my daily travels. I am a very spiritual person.

H:  For whom do you do your designs?

M: I think I mostly design for myself.  I give a lot of my work away as gifts.

There you go! Didn’t I say she is interesting! Meagan and I ‘swapped’ her beads for my money. I’d be lying to say these beads are nice: they’re great! 

Thanks, Meagan, for this interview. While your answers got me to a-thinking so I hope you found yourself happily reminiscing.


I am so happy that Meagan sent her answer to a follow up question I had.

H: What influenced your change of focus?

M: I guess I decided to start with prayer beads because spirituality is becoming more and more important to me. To be honest I liked making jewellery but not so much wearing it, so this is something I can also use myself.

Good or bad, Life is Growth. When we stop growing is the day we die. Some change is easy but it is the hard to accept change that builds our character.


Interview with a BeadBug

Waterfall in Pink

Waterfall in Pink

Please, dear readers, settle in with a cup of tea: you are about to meet a BeadBug. Her name is Virginia Steinmetz, and her friends call her Jenny.


In her past, Jenny travelled the world first with her USNavy parents and then as a USNavy wife. Now, Jenny lives on 8 acres of land in Vancouver, WA: she lives with a herd of horses, a pride of cats, a pack of dogs. And a Little Red Hen. And a husband. Her 4 grown daughters have made her a Grandmama 5 times over. Needless to say, she is a very busy person.


H:      Tell us about your business. What do you do?

J:       Well, I’ve been in business for almost 18 months: I have a shop on Etsy and a website. As if that isn’t enough, I also give beading lessons and private parties. I have taken the Etsy Pledge to sell only custom handmade artisan items.

H:      Who inspires you in life?

J:       I would say my mother was my inspiration in life, as she too was a Navy Wife! The don’t call it the toughest job in the Nave for giggles. Because a family was restricted by a weight limit every time it moves, and we did move ~ every 18 months ~ it was hard to collect anything. But she collected Swarovski Christmas pins for about 30 years: she was heartbroken when they were stolen.:      And in art who and what inspires you?

J:       Now that’s a tough one. I have followed one craft or another for a very long time. There was a part of my life, 15 years of it, when I was a florist. I take a lot of my inspiration from fellow beaders. I have taken some classes with nationally recognized artists, but I would have to say my inspiration comes from deep within myself. You could call it a willingness to learn, the love of working with color, the desire to share my knowledge, and the enjoyment ofmeeting new people and stretching myself. Also, beading is something I can do because it doesn’t require a lot of energy or physical strength.


H:      How long have you been beading, Jenny?

J:       It seems like in some ways I have just started beading yesterday, but I’ve been beading in one form or another for a long time but it’s been in the past 5 years really that I have taken my ‘hobby’ into another dimension: that of selling my work. I can usually be found at the major shops in my area and have been up and down the US West Coast, buying beads at the major shows? My goal is to work with hot glass, mandrils and a torch: make my own beads.


H:      What drew you to beading instead of any other art form?

J:       Hum… Well I think it has to do with the fact that it’s a tactile art form. I didn’t like oil painting because of the smell of the paints. I tried sewing, but didn’t really enjoy it. I can cook and bake up a storm and did wedding cakes in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as arranging the flowers. But beading! I can do it in front of the TV if I want and I get to wear what I make!


H:      Have you a mentor or someone you’d like to blame for getting you hooked?

J:       Oh, my, yes I do! Her name is Luarae (pronounced Laurie) and she works for the Craft Warehouse in Vancouver, WA. She is a wonderful person and has mentored me every step of the way. Luarae was almost wiped out in a flood near the coast a few years ago. But she kept at it; she drives 60 miles just to get to work. I hope Craft Warehouse knows how special she is!


H:      What has been the hardest thing for you to overcome? How did I overcome it?

J:       Hmmmmmmm! Well, I think the hardest thing was being toldby my doctor that I had Congestive Heart Failure and told me to get rid of my horses. There was NO way that was going to happen. I was close to dying when I was hospitalized and when I was released, I was so weak I could barely walk. In less than a year I was almost good as new. I showed a yearling colt at the Oregon State Fair and won the Grand Champion Halter Class AND the Regional Classes for both Pinto horses and National Show horses. When my doctor retired several years later, I gave him four Grand Champion Ribbons, one for each of the years I showed?

[ed. note: Jenny has 4 horses]


H:      Have you a favourite colour? Shape? Line?

J:       Yes to all of it. My color is Green ~ in all its shades and tints. I love round and triangle ~ round beads and bicones: they are so easy to work with. They are wonderfully versatile. You can make just about anything with those shapes.

         My favorite line must be Swarovski; both their crystals, which I think are the best in the world, and their pearls. I use them in almost all of my work, excepting my contemporary SouthWestern work and my primitive works. I also love Toho and work mostly with Japanese seed beads. The new dichroic seed beads, I think, have much more sparkle than the Charlottes.


H:      Tell me, Jenny, what you think is your most important work.

J:       I think to date the most important work is the set featured on the home page of my website: it’s my first seed beaded piece. I invested more than 89 hours to make all 3 pieces and features 3 different freshwater pearls, moonstone, sunstone, angelskin coral, Swarovski crystals, and a tone of seed beads. I’ve written instructions for that piece and that you can find at eHow.

H:      Describe, Jenny, something you’ve experimented with that you wouldn’t do again.

J:       That would be polymer clay!  I just did not enjoy that experiment.


H:      What advice would you give a novice beader?

J:       Don’t get discouraged. I have a Masters Degree in the Frog Stitch (Rip It Rip It). I have worked on projects that I have completed and didn’t like so I took those apart and reworked them several times?

         Don’t be afraid to push yourself? I took a class in seed beading using peyote and brick stitch, that took me 3 hours just to keep repeating my first 3 rows of peyote. I had never worked the sititches before. The instructor wasn’t happy with me, but, by stretching myself and challenging myself, not only did I finish my piece but I learned more than I had expected.


H:      That’s the nice thing about doing the Frog Stitch in beads. You lose the beading thread or wire but the beads themselves suffer no damage. Being able to reuse them over and over makes beading a great choice for a craft artisan.

J:       I couldn’t agree more. Just hang in there: keep going until you get it right and then start enjoying what you’re doing.


Thanks, Jenny, for participating: this interview has been fun. Okay! Fun once you got the questions. You continue to inspire me: both your lively personality and your gorgeous glass bead artisan jewellery.


Find Jenny at where she writes what she knows about: wonderful recipes in her kitchen and beautiful artisan jewellery in her workroom. Her work is for sale at: and And if you have questions or would just like to sit and chat, she has added her email:




Waterfall Kissed with Pink

Waterfall Kissed with Pink

Interview with Stitch Witch

The Stitch Witch, better known as Deborah Waltenburg, is a woman who caught my attention on eHow. She has a wide range of interests and is a freelance writer. Counted among her interests are knitting and calligraphy.  From her work and talents you wouldn’t recognize a woman coping with ADHD. Read on to learn more about the artisan Deborah.

Hélène: How long have you been a yarn addict?

Deborah: I’ve always been in love with oversized sweaters in straight flat stitches or full of cables and designs. I have 4 sweaters that I wish could have stayed with me forever, but life, wear and tear and an overly generous spirit let them get away from me.

In addition to my sweater addiction, I’m always intrigued by the delicacy of filet crochet or any type of intricate thread work. Laces, tablecloths, runners, edgings, you name it, I am always seeking the ultimate design to add to my repertoire. Then, I can spend months or years in some cases working on a piece just to give away.

I didn’t start ‘making’ things with yarn and thread, though, until I was in my early 20’s (painfully stated, 15+ years ago).

Hélène: Why did you choose fiber arts over other media to express yourself?

A: I’m not a crafty person, by nature … defined as someone who can just come up with nifty lil trinkets off the top of their head. I have to be inspired by what I see in the world of fashion and art. The key reason for choosing fibres and yarns ~ Cost! Crochet hooks and knitting needles last forever. Yarn is somewhat easily accessible, but the costs are going up for quality yarns: you can still find the affordable materials online. It’s just a bit more difficult now than in the past!

Hélène: What inspires you? In life?

Deborah: In life it’s strong human beings, mostly those who are constatnly bucking the system, and making their voices heard. And my Grandma. She moved forward constantly, until she could move no longer. She is always with me, wrapped around me like a warm blanket, and pushing me forward with her strong capable hands.

Hélène: She sounds like a wonderful woman and her guidance is still felt. Now, what inspires you in art?

Deborah:In art, true beauty is in the exquisite details and colours. I’m thoroughly enamoured of renaissance and impressionist works, and awed by the abilities of the artists of the past, such as Waterhouse, Van Gogh, Delville, and so many more. If you want to see some of the most beautiful paintings ever created, you need to visit There is no better resource, in my opinion.

Cemeteries, Spanish and Italian architecture stir my soul. Early fall and early spring: destruction and creation at their finest. These are the things that inspire me.

Hélène: Do you have a favourite colour? Or shape or line?

Deborah:I am attracted to dark, rich, vibrant colours more than pastels or non-colours, such as white and ecru. Our home is a veritable palette of colours. Dark grey and mustard yellow in the kitchen, sable and copper tones on the walls and furniture of the living room, darkets burgundy and coppers in the bedroom: colour is everywhere in our home!


Shapes and lines? I am a calligrapher so swirling dirvishy lines are what I am attracted to. Laces, Spanish iron works as you see in France and New Orleans, or anything mosaic or beaded in nature. The busy-ness is probably what attracts me most. But then, top it off with simplistic straight lines, and I’m good to go!!

Hélène: Have you a special mentor? Who do you thank, and blame, for getting you started?

Deborah: I was taught to sew by my mom and grandma, however, no one in the family works with yarns, except me. I am self-taught all the way, and still learning. I didn’t start knitting until about 2 years ago, and was looking forward to learning it with my mother-in-law, however she has since passed away, and so I’m just kind of carrying it on in her honour!

However, this brings me to the thought of a quotation that was shared with me by a lovely fabric artist, Margo Lovinger. Often mistakenly credited to Goethe, whoever created this particular piece of wordage could not have said it any better:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative ( and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Hélène: That sounds like my family motto: ‘Fortune Favours the Bold.’ What is it that rings true to you?

Deborah: Why is this true for me? Although I taught myself many of the skills I have today, it was when I was brought into the fold of my husband’s family of very creative and motivated fibre artists that my talents were fostered and grew. And things have progressed ever since.

Hélène: What has been the hardest thing for you to do? How did you overcome that hurdle?

Deborah: Knitting. It is more difficult to learn when you don’t have an actual, concrete display or person showing you. I’ve had to rely on books and magazines, so I frankly don’t even know if I’m doing stitches correctly, but, hey. .. if it looks and feels good to me, then it cannot be wrong.

The one truest way to get past any hurdle is with persistence and dedication. Even if you have to put it down and walk away for a spell, coming back, and working on it again and again is the only way to break the Curse of Confusion! Just do it!

Hélène: What keeps you getting up in the morning?

Deborah:  I can attest to the fact that you just have to MAKE yourself move some days! But the very act of crocheting, knitting, and any other art form is, in itself, a medication, because it allows your mind to go away from what distracts, and allows you a total focus and concentration.

Hélène: How would you describe your most important work?

Deborah: A work in progress.

Hélène: Any advice for the novices among us?

Deborah: Never give up. Find your own voice, and your own style. Don’t follow trends, follow your heart. Look everywhere for inspiration: nature, cities, classic and modern art, fashion magazines, the inspiration is all around, you just have to be open to seeing it.

Never stop learning. When you stop learning, you’re dead. Literally! No more learning then!!

Hélène: What advice can you give when photographing your work?

Deborah: Experiment.

Hélène: Keep working at it. It takes as long as it takes. That’s your message.

Deborah: Yes. Try different rooms, different backgrounds, different lighting (natural or artificial light, flash, no flash …), different angles. You’ve got to show your pieces in the best light, so as to display all the attributes of the work.

Hélène: Talk a little about craft shows. How do you prepare for it?

Deborah:Do your research. Know your audience. You’re not going to sell lots of cool, gothic, black lacy stuff at a church Christmas Bazaar and you aren’t likely to sell a toaster cover in Christmasy shades of red and green at an art festival. Once you know the target market, then you can seek out the shows you want to attend.

Hélène: Anything more, Deborah?

Deborah: Marketing, marketing, and more marketing. Once you get to the show of your dreams, make sure your setup matches the mood you want to give off: Halloween at Easter probably won’t work. Display your pieces so people want to see more …

And there is a ton of advice online. Just research thoroughly, so you can start on a good, balanced footing instead of flying blind.

Hélène: Thanks so much, Deborah, for giving our readers the opportunity to see handcrafted artisan work from your point of view. There is so much in what you have offered us that is valuable to the person just starting out and to the expert as well.

Deborah: It has been my pleasure, Hélène.

Yarn FixThe first step in recovery is to admit that you have a problem.  My name is Deborah and I am a Yarn-oholic.’ Visit Deborah Waltenburg’s blog and join the fun of knitting.  Deborah will soon have a shop at Etsy.  I love the flow, the design, the colors, the textures.  In this art, it IS about the destination,

Photography by Deborah Waltenburg