Beadwork inspired by art – Jean Campbell

campbell-impressionist campbell-art-nouveau

Jean Campbell’s talk was mostly about her design process, using art as inspiration, heavily illustrated with slides, and many of the actual pieces that are in these books; the Art Nouveau bracelet above was one such piece.  She started with talking about her background, that she went to an experimental art school in Los Angeles, and didn’t have much money, which is why she started with seed beads.  So she has a background in art and jewelry making, and applies that to her work.

Each of the above books by Jean Campbell and Judith Durant shows a project and the art piece that provides its inspiration, twelve pieces in each book.  Jean spoke first about her process in design using art as inspiration — the first step is gathering sources of information, from museums to magazines, clothing to travel photos.  Second is planning the colors of your design, including, importantly, the metal color.  As Jean points out, there are many choices now, and you don’t have to just use sterling.  Third is planning the materials of your design, i.e. resin vs Swarovski vs ceramic — make your materials fit your piece of art, and don’t forget the findings!  Make sure every piece of material contributes to the design.  Last is planning the shape of your design, and size, symmetry, etc.

Some of the examples of what Jean  turned into beadwork are the lanterns in a painting of an Art Nouveau production of Scheherezade, the German Art Nouveau handles on the Bremen City Hall (swans), Manet’s painting “The Lemon,” Gaugin’s “Woman with a Mango,” and more.  Jean worked two years on these books, and continues to design this way.  Since the book, she has created beadwork using as inspiration Haitian Veves (Voodoo flags), kimono fabric, and Zulu love letters.  She has combined elements such as a Tibetan Message Pendant and the imagery of a spinning Tibetan prayer wheel, Dia de los Muertos and peyote cactus (cool shape!), and more.

She imparted many tips and examples throughout this talk, and scanning the books, there are even more.  Some words of advice Jean has for creating beadwork designs are to simplify, and get rolling; use your brain power to try new things, since color and design are already decided; and give yourself permission to stop and start over.  Wonderful tips!

Instructions for one of the pieces she described (and had as a sample), the Fiori Necklace, will be in the April/May 2009 Beadwork.  There is currently a picture of her Sjournee Necklace currently on the front page of her website, which will be in the June/July 2009 issue of Beadwork.  If you have the opportunity to hear Jean speak, go!

8 thoughts on “Beadwork inspired by art – Jean Campbell”

  1. Hi! Thanks for connecting on Twitter – and this post is wonderful – a great example of the answer to my #beading question about finding inspiration in art. Wonderful review, and I look forward to reading your posts.

    1. Thank you! I was searching Twitter for beading (don’t we all?), and was happy to find you! I do frequently use art as inspiration, so I like to visit museums, go to lectures, etc. On my website, you can see a few….

    1. I’m glad you’re doing publicity for these books — they’re really good, and I would love for them to get the audience they deserve! Art Nouveau has so many great shapes, it’s great inspiration. I have an Art Deco ufo on my work table — another source of ideas. I didn’t ask, and should have, if Jean has any more on tap….

  2. When (if?) I retire in 15 years or so, I hope to try my hand at more intricate and time-intensive work – like the starfish design you offer as a pattern in your gallery. I string seed beads, but I haven’t gotten into weaving and sewing with them. Your work is beautiful!

    1. Thank you for the compliments! I need to buckle down and work more, I’m getting lax in my personal time management. 🙂 I think stringing is hard to do really well. Her Lemon piece was an excellent example of balanced asymmetrical design.

  3. I have never heard of these books, but then again, I stopped reading Beadwork (actually all beading magazines!) quite a long time ago… But they look interesting!

    1. I haven’t heard as much about these books as I have about other bead books — they are published by Creative Publishing rather than B&B or BW or Lark or Sterling, so maybe that’s it? I know it’s not what you tend to do, but they’re still fun to look at.

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