Judie Spencer Artist Statement: Beadwork


Beads have been used as currency, adornments, status symbols, counting devices, religious objects and have been part of the human story for thousands of years. They seem to be hardwired into the human brain, eliciting universal emotional responses to their diminutive beauty. They have been produced from hundreds of natural and synthetic materials. Their shape, size and colors are infinite.

I have been working with beads for many years. Weaving with small seed beads is my favorite technique because it is fascinating to create a piece of fabric made from glass. The idea of wearing glass is also intriguing to me. It's properties, captured in minute fragments and woven into a flexible textile result in a unique application of this seemingly hard and brittle material. Colors radiate, surfaces reflect or absorb light, and the beads themselves seem to take on a life of their own when worn.

The focused, meditative nature of the process, the row by row development of the design and the exacting tedium of the off loom finishing are the creative challenges found in this work. Each piece begins with a detailed drawing designating every bead to it's place in the design. This drawing is my playbook for the process and is as much of the final product as the piece itself.

I use Japanese round, square cut, or delicas (tubular) beads in all of my work because of their uniformity, high quality finishes and wide range of colors.