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Bead artist Tatiana Mankova
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1. Why are you and other bead artists often jokingly called "bead maniacs"?

In every joke there is a bit of joke! Probably because we don't only believe that the beads is a universal "designer", but also can "play" with beads for hours for many years running. In my opinion, this is one of the best games in the world!

2. When and how did you get hooked on beading? What inspired you?

Something about a quarter-century ago, around the mid to late eighties. It all started with an article about beading in an old grandfather's "Science and Life" magazine issue released in 1970s. There was a pattern of a simple beaded collar, photographs of the on-loom woven ethnic necklace and peyote stitched leaves, and beaded beads. I really wanted to make such beauties and found loose Bohemian beads from my mother's old necklaces, and rough beads tucked in a vase in a closet.

Bead artwork by Tatiana Mankova
click to see gallery

So, first I created a collar using the pattern from that magazine, then I made a necklace based on what I saw there, and then I could manage to weave the leaves in peyote stitch. I even started designing my own flowers and other ornaments from the remnants of beads... That time I was upset because more or less quality beads was available almost nowhere, and I begged unnecessary and torn beaded things from my friends, and each such a "catch" was a holiday opening new opportunities to create something new.

3. If this "constructor" is universal, so...

Yes, it can be used to create everything or almost everything, you need just a little ingenuity, enough time and appropriate beads. Now I work not only with beads, plain tiny glass round things with small holes, but with paint and fabric, and clay, and the dreams of volume puzzles and colorworks become true. The real magic!

Bead artwork by Tatiana Mankova
click to see gallery

4. What kind of beads do you use in your works?

Any which is on hand. Today's abundance of materials available for every kind of beadwork just seems like a fairy tale. Now many weavers ignore non-expensive beads of Chinese, Taiwanese and Indian production, and some consider Czech beads to be too simple, and ask Japanese ones.

In fact, even the ugliest beads can be used if you treat its disadvantages as its merits. After all, these are the same pieces of smalt - only with a tiny hole. Sometimes an artist needs a fairly large spread of shapes and sizes in contrast to smooth, clear and unified but more expensive beads, or to change a shape and/or a texture of a bead item. Besides, such beads can be used to stuff beaded figures - the same way as felt artists do the wool remnants.

Bead artwork by Tatiana Mankova
click to see gallery

Speaking about my Fashion Colorworks 2013 beadwork submissions, I used the following: Amulet Trinket is completely made out of the Czech beads 13/0; Dreams Of Plentiful Moon Set is from Czech glass beads with the addition of Chinese and Taiwanese ones; The Maya Legend Necklace has very different bead types: all green and translucent orange are Czech glass beads, frosted orange, pink and small ivory fine - Chinese, the large ivory - Japanese.

5. Are there any sorts of beads you especially like or dislike?

Now I'm trying not to use silver lined beads since the holes usually get dark with time; I don't like any "metallized" beads because of the instability of the coating, and apply with cautious bugle beads - sometimes they have sharp edges. I dearly love small Czech 13/0 and the Japanese 15/0 seed beads and like AB shades coating for its iridescence and color complexity.

Bead artwork by Tatiana Mankova
click to see gallery

6. Do you have a preference in techniques for working with beads?

It depends. As a rule, there are several ways to do what was planned, and I choose the ones that are more appropriate in a particular case, in terms of expressiveness, convenience and easy to personal likings. For example, I can make embroidery, knit, weave on a loom or with wire, once fond of micro-macrame, etc., and I can use them all if needed.

In most cases, I choose only beads and stones plus fishing line or another thread like that without any other supports and frames. Working freely is more interesting and joyful and I get more pleasure in the process. If I do not know of a method or technique to execute my idea, I find them or invent what I need. Pure fun!

Bead artwork by Tatiana Mankova
click to see gallery

7. How big is the share of randomness and spontaneity during the process of creation a new work?

In fact, very high. Things can change completely in the process - from the overall concept to the smallest detail. Sometimes I do preliminary sketches, sometimes not, sometimes draw the necessary elements and patterns for them. But most of the overall image is only in my head. Sometimes I redo my weaving several times in different ways until I get the very thing that I like.

8. Where did you get your ideas?

Everywhere. The source can be read, seen and heard somewhere, random phrases, interesting techniques or principles of other crafts, poems, songs, music, a pebble on a beach, a beautiful pattern, - all can serve as a stimulus to make me think, "What if..."

Bead artwork by Tatiana Mankova
click to see gallery

9. What are your plans, where does your boat float?

I'm planning to work three-dimensional miniatures, figurines, dolls, and flowers with maximum fine workmanship.

10. In conclusion, what was interesting Fashion Colorworks for you?

You suggest very stimulating mix of fairly hard-coded limit in color with virtually complete freedom in everything else. Good organization, simplicity and affordability of participation (no need to deal with mail and customs), and very talented multi-style participants from around the world, "delicious" prizes. Lots of pleasure! Thank you so much for it to organizers, sponsors, and the jury!

My gallery on

About author:

Tatiana Mankova, Rostov-on-Don, Russia

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