March 15, 2023 - Virginia Blakelock **1 week later than usual**

We continue to meet virtually via Zoom. TBS members will be sent the link via email the week of the presentation.

Canada Beading Supply in partnership with the Grand River Bead Society and the Toronto Bead Society is sponsoring a zoom presentation on Wednesday, March 15 at 7pm with world renowned bead artist Virginia Blakelock. She will be covering her journey as a bead artist and sharing design insights she has learned along the way.

Virginia has been beading since she was a child beginning with an “Indian Bead Loom” kit. Her horizons were expanded at age 13 when she lived in West Pakistan for four years where there was a bead stall in the local market. After art school and a move to Oregon, she encountered beads once again and decided in 1973 to concentrate her artistic pursuits on beading.

A major impetus to her career was a 1988 Threads magazine article about her career with beautiful photos of her amazing work. Her “Moth” necklace was particularly impressive. (show photo and credit Gary L. Betts). That article generated the greatest response of any article in Threads up to that point. This prompted her about a year later, to self-publish a book "Those Bad, Bad Beads ". It was the first book in decades that provided information about working with seed beads. Virginia inspired a number of people such as Carole Wilcox Wells and Diane Fitzgerald who then went on to become famous themselves.

Virginia and her business partner Carol Perrenoud founded Bead Cats, Inc (also known as The Universal Synergetics, Inc. Beadstore) They had one of the first mail-order bead businesses in North America. Since there were not many bead stores in the 1980’s, the two women toured the country in a 1975 Cadillac limousine making beads available to a growing number of enthusiasts as well as teaching.

This talk is not going to be just about her journey. Virginia says “Designing with beads is not easy, and I have made a LOT of really really ugly things. I still struggle with coming up with color 
combinations that I like. Beads are not at all like pigments you place on a canvas or sheet of
paper. They are glass, they live with the light, and seeing how they look “en masse”, (together), 
is usually not at all how they look when individual beads are placed together. How often have
you been disappointed when what seemed like a great design, with great colors, fell completely
on its face? 
There are some basic premises that govern the interplay of glass types (eg. opaque vs
transparent) with surface finishes (AB, matte, etc.). When I realized this I began teaching classes
in which each student made a sample with the same design and colors but with different types of
glass and surface finishes. Then, we talked about how the beads behaved. Did the beads support
the design or sabotage it? Using my work and class samples I will share my design insights with
you, as I tell the story of my life’s journey as a bead artist. I hope you will come away from this
 presentation with new eyes for your own work.”