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I'm Birgit Bergemann from Biesenthal, Brandenburg, Germany. I'm married, have three children, and an office administrator by occupation. This sounds like a regular childhood and grown-up life: I always loved to be creative, and I was knitting and crocheting. When I was in school my favorite classes were arts, mathematics and sports. I liked geometrical and three-dimensional shapes, but and I couldn't have thought that my life would be associated with beads later. In 2003 I knew beads, started beading and soon turned that from a hobby to a profession.
I love jewelry as most women do, there must be a "magpie-gene" inside of me. I love fine filigreed, detailed works, and both I sum up in this craft. After I had received an old German book about different crafts I read about some beadwork and was hooked on that. My other beloved hobbies were put aside, and only sometimes I can turn back to a Jane Austin or Tess Gerritsen book. In past I had hundreds of things lying around, most of them not finished. Since I started beading I have become a very tidy person. I sit at my desk, wear my magnifier and come at peace with myself. I seem to have a special smile on my face, since I began beading; at least my husband says so.
Even my house and decoration have turned around the tiny beads by now, and my everyday life has been altered. My family completely supports me and is proud of what I have done up to now. Since I opened my well known online shop I have divided my days in mornings, when I work for the shop, and afternoons when I dedicate my time to beads and design new jewelry.
In 2007 I lost my job and soon my unemployment benefits came to the end. No new job was in sight. An employee of a large bead shop asked me if I could fathom to start being self-employed and to sell my beadworks on a commission base. I was kind of afraid of the risk involved and had to think about it. My husband and I have discussed that issue for a while and then I decided to start this new adventure. Why could I see my future in this hobby? It was more of a feeling then knowledge; I have listened to my soul rather than to my head, I was pulled into this sort of talk.
As long as we calculated carefully and decided that we wouldn't add up huge debts we could not loose too much. My advantage was that I already knew a lot about beads, their shapes and how to use them best of all, and how to work with them. I also believed that I was given a good feeling for colors and what to advise to customers. It is a great benefit to not only be an artist but also a good retailer. Customers notice these points and feel they are taken care of them. My motto is to advise my customers in such a way that they benefit from it, and a satisfied customer comes back.
The beader inside of me is of a great help towards making decisions regarding the shop and all financial matters. I think about what I would love to have, what beads I would need and that is what I try to offer. Any bead in any shape, color and size is welcomed and fascinates me. My true love is still bead crochet where I'm a pure perfectionist. This was my beginning; beading with threads and needles came later. A retailer apprenticeship that I went through from 2000 to 2002 was really helpful. These things one absolutely needs when starting a business.
My customers can purchase a lot of different fine instructions, which I and sometimes a friend of mine, also a bead designer, develop. Very often my projects are so intricate that require about three weeks each, to work on it for 3-4 hours daily. I love tiny beads and patterns that count in smallest details. Normally I make only one-of-a-kind designs because I don't like repetition.
In a large city there are five or more drugstores on one street, and all of them can coexist. Why shouldn't I succeed even there were other shops also? All people need a hobby and something to do. Beading is good for the emotional health. Creativity is given to us, it's in our hearts; and one can try this out what he can with these little beads. To me, a person without a hobby is a sad person. I feel deep enjoyment and satisfaction being able to use my talent and play with colors and shapes.
As far as my preferences develop, I love all beads, no matter how big or what they look like, but my heart beats for the really small ones. I crochet mostly using 15/0 beads or smaller. When I teach at workshops, I demonstrate my work using larger beads, when I do off-loom beading with thread and needle I use everything for my best liking. I am a type of designers who sees something and has to think about it for a while, then brings it down on paper and immediately needs to start and working on that.
Sometimes this doesn't work well, but sometimes this allows creating a new, unexpected design. Because of that I think I am "a technical designer" who loves graphical patterns, but I also love romantic designs where I can be artistic. When I have no ideas I sit down and just start beading using an instruction bought from another designer. It lasts not so long, and my own ideas come to me again.
I get my inspiration from everything around me. Sometimes it is a movie I watched or a picture I saw; from a little idea in my mind it grows up and turns to a beautiful piece of beadwork; quality is the most important to me. What can I say to a beginner? Be courageous! Try out things, experiment, but... do learn the techniques first!
There is the large fair I like to attend, Textile Art Berlin, where I normally have been as a merchant. Twice I have entered the contests from I-Perlen and won first and second prizes. Since the beginning I have been a member and later an administrator of the large German bead forum, www.perlenhaekeln.de; and since 2009 a staff member of the German Perlen Poesie beading magazine. In 2011 I plan to go to the first Bead Art Fair in Hamburg (August 20-21, 2011) as an exhibitor, and will also teach a class "Bead crochet around and over wooden beads". Everyone is welcome!
|Birgit Bergemann, Biesenthal, Brandenburg, Germany|