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!