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I was born in Brazil, moved to the United States at the age of three with my family, and have been living in Italy since 1986. I live with my son in the medieval center of a beautiful city, located at what could be described as the border between Northern and Central Italy.
I had the incredible fortune of being able to travel extensively ever since I was a small child, and have always been fascinated by faraway lands exotic cultures. My parents transmitted to me their love for art and culture, and I will be forever grateful to them for encouraging me to enrich myself through art and beauty.
Beading is my most recent discovery and the one I've dedicated the most energy to, out of all of the various mediums with which I've experimented. I've always been very absorbed by all forms of arts and crafts ever since I could pick up a crayon, and have dabbled in many. My love for art and creativity drove me to choose an art major, among others, in college. The bulk of my artistic experience throughout my life has been in smithing, drawing and painting, along with various fiber arts such as macrame, knitting, textile loom-weaving, etc, all of which have accompanied me over the years, until I discovered the beading obsession which absorbs all of my free time. I started playing with beads almost 4 years ago, and beading seriously a little over three years ago. I firmly believe that first discovering and later focusing on beading is one of the best things I've ever done for myself, both as a person and as an artist. I'm a self-taught beader, still self-teaching.
The intro is the basics, but without inspiration the basics wouldn't have existed, so a few words on inspiration. Inspiration is everywhere, inside and outside of us. Inspiration is so easy and accessible, yet sometimes so elusive.I find inspiration in everything, from the words going around in my head to a drop of water, from nature to trash, from situations to architecture, from a painting or sculpture to an endless poem. A pretty flower by the road can catch my eye, but if I take a close-up photo in macro mode of a detail of that pretty flower, I'll find myself catapulted into a tumult of design ideas. Feeling uninspired at some point afflicts us all, myself included. Learning to look at things differently, to perceive detail in what could be a relatively uninteresting source at first glance... opens new worlds.
I'm attracted to all sorts of materials, especially the off the wall and unexpected. In my stash you can find tanned Canadian salmon hides, real beetles encased in cubes of plexiglass, several pounds of seeds and wood from the Amazon jungle, a mini-top hat (for bead embroidery), unfinished opal doublets destined for who knows what, glass mosaic tiles, broken lampwork (DON'T cry, all is not lost - if the pieces are big enough you'll find they make spectacular "cabs" for bead embroidery!), a dinosaur tooth, several stalactite slices, rubber rings and grommets, etc. The hardware store is just as interesting as the LBS to me!
My creative process in designing is erratic and I usually design as I go along. I might occasionally make a rough sketch of what I more or less have in mind before starting, but my designing is highly intuitive and my end product often looks nothing like the original sketch. My love for words and language evidently gives me an edge in my creativity as I often find myself coming up with a name for a piece before even coming up with the design. I take my inspiration from the name and come up with a piece that "fits" the name I've chosen, sort of like giving myself a theme. Some people may say that's doing things backwards... and they're absolutely right! But it works. Food for thought in an uninspired moment. Examples of pieces born this way are the Copacabana necklace and the Jungle Boogie and Aztec Chocolate bracelet and cuff.
When designing I focus on texture, color and movement. I'm not a static person, and neither is my beadwork. I love fringe, but tend to keep it to a minimum. Seed bead work is showy no matter how simple it is, just because it's different. It attracts attention, and I find that one of the biggest challenges in designing with seed beads is that of producing a piece which is ultimately wearable, and less something you'd expect to see on somebody's coffee table next to the picture books. That's not to say that the challenge of a large, intricate collar or necklace doesn't appeal to me, it does. I even made one myself, which I oooh and ahhh over constantly since I can't believe I actually produced such a piece - Queen Victoria's Folly - inspired by Art Deco and Victorian jewelry, but I don't think it'll sell all too soon. I'm convinced that pieces of the sort are produced out of sheer passion, without too many expectations attached, which is how art should be. If somebody then likes it enough to plunk down a grand for it, so much the better!
I hope you've enjoyed this peek into my own personal beady world. I'm slowly moving a bit away from jewelry for the moment as my most recent obsession is with bead sculpture. Though a single piece takes months to finish, the various design, engineering and problem-solving issues which arise absorb me completely and keep me interested in what I'm doing. I have produced a brief overview of the basics involved in planning and executing an important bead sculpture for the My Lovely Beads newsletter and website which Zoya will be publishing, and I really hope to stimulate more beaders to broaden their horizons and discover the full potential of beads. You can create gallery quality artwork with nothing more than your creativity, a bunch of microscopic glass beads, a needle and some thread. Don't believe it? Stick around!
|Andrea Landau, Italy|