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Bead artist Adele Recklies at his studio

I'm Adele Recklies and I live in Brooklyn, New York. I came to beading via my work as a theatrical costume maker. After I received a Ph.D. in theater, I decided that I really wanted to make the gorgeous costumes that I saw in the movies and theater rather than study them, so my husband and I moved to New York.

I soon landed a job at Barbara Matera Ltd., one of the premier costume houses in the world. There I learned many couture techniques while making spectacular gowns and historical costumes, but it was the beading done at the shop that caught my eye. Working for a second costume shop gave me more hand-on experience with beading on fabric. That led me to take a series of seed bead jewelry classes.

Bead art by Adele Recklies
click to enlarge

Although I eventually left the costume shops to open my own business making knitted and crocheted costumes for theater and film (my other love, and my work has been seen in films such as "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events," "Big Fish," "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," "M:I:3," and "Memoirs of a Geisha," my knitting has also been part of "CATS" on Broadway as well as productions at the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Ballet), I have continued to explore beading.

A bead crochet class with Miriam Milgram opened my eyes to the possibilities of tubular bead crochet and prompted my study of antique bead crochet snakes. Miriam had made her own version of the bead crochet snakes produced by women in Balkan villages and promised to teach a class in making a snake.

Bead art by Adele Recklies
click to enlarge

When that didn't happen, I started my own research, discovered photos of antique bead crochet snakes made by Balkan villagers and Turkish prisoners of war during World War I, and figured out my own bead crochet snake pattern. I, however, didn't want something that would just sit on a table so I made snake necklaces and bracelets.

Other beaders had questions about the antique snakes and wanted my patterns to make their own snake jewelry, so I ended up writing Bead Crochet Snakes: History and Technique.

Bead art by Adele Recklies
click to see gallery

Although bead crochet snakes took over my life for many years, I now have time to return to other beading. Because of my love of fiber, I continue to explore mixing fiber and beads. My trip to Turkey in 2007 to give a joint lecture with Jane Kimball on Turkish prisoner-of-war and Balkan beadwork was a great inspiration because I saw many examples of traditional knit and crochet items as well as the lovely trimmings made by Turkish women using fibers and beads.

I was also taken with the glass beads made by Turkish artisans and inspired by the traditional felt work that we saw. I even learned two new bead crochet stitches during our travels around Istanbul and through parts of western Turkey.

Bead art by Adele Recklies
buy a book!

I have since learned the basics of Turkish needle lace (išne oyalari) and have started to incorporate lace flowers into my beadwork. I am also exploring bead crochet trim (boncuk oyasi) in order to take the traditional craft and reinterpret it in a modern way.

Aside from the mixture of fiber and beads, my theatrical costuming work has influenced my beading in a few ways. I am drawn to visual contrast rather than subtle gradations and have an affection for the spectacular. Since making costumes involves realizing the vision of a costume designer, I am often pushing the envelope in terms of what a material can do or using materials in new and different ways.

At the end, I'd like to share with you links to my favorite websites:

Article on Bead Crochet Snakes
My gallery on
Buy a book on Bead Crochet Snakes

About author:

Adele Rogers Recklies, Brooklyn, New York, USA

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