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Bead artist Kathy King
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My name is Kathy King. I grew up on Long Island, New York, the youngest of four daughters. I've loved doing crafty things my whole life, from drawing and coloring, to making furniture and clothing for my Barbie dolls. I also loved math and went to college for industrial engineering. Following school I've served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force for four years, stationed in Hampton, Virginia. Afterwards, in 1996, I moved to North Carolina where I married and still live with my husband, daughter, son and cat.

I started playing with beads for fun while living in Virginia. I am not sure what started me making jewelry, probably just one of the many things I picked up wondering around the local craft stores looking for new projects. Bead weaving came into my life after moving to North Carolina in 1999, when the local embroidery guild in Raleigh brought in Carol Wilcox Wells for two summer workshops. After the first class, which introduced me to peyote, I was hooked. I loved it and understood it. I have always liked miniature things (still own my dollhouse and all the trimmings up in the attic somewhere) and the small beads really attracted me.

Beaded jewelry by Kathy King
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Over the last 15 years, the little seed beads have slowly taken over my creative life. I still love doing many other crafts (scrapbooks, metalwork, and coloring) but I always come back to my beads. Ever since taking my first beading class, I have been the type of student who never makes exactly what is being taught. I like to experiment and need to make something different. I think that is what led me to create the bead quilling technique that I use in so much of my work today. I didn't set out to develop a new technique but happily stumbled upon it while trying to create a new beaded bead design.

Over the last five years of playing with the technique I really love the many design possibilities it gives me. And the bead quilling has led me back to my love of math and has me incorporating more geometric shapes into my beadwork. The sturdy nature of the bead quilled pieces really allows me to build with the beads and experiment with structure. I still get excited about my first weaving love, the beaded bead. I teach beaded beads a lot and find the unending embellishing possibilities and chance to play with color very exciting.

Beaded jewelry by Kathy King
click to see gallery

Inspiration for my designs can come from absolutely anything. As with most creative people, nature is always a wonderful source of inspiration. The color and texture I see just looking out my window can lead to lots of design ideas. But I also really enjoy looking through fashion design books and architectural books. The shapes and colors presented there are always inspiring and can lead to very interesting designs. I also own a small library of pattern books from around the world, floor tile design from Spain to a Japanese pattern sourcebook (a number are in the Agile Rabbit Series of books).

A majority of the time, when I sit down at my bead table to start a new design, I have no plan in my head. I sit, pick a color I'm in the mood to use and start playing with shapes. Even with a plan, once I start playing with the beads it often changes and I just let the beads lead me. I have also filled a number of sketch books over the years with design ideas but only follow through on a small percentage of them. These books are good place to go to on those rare days I have no idea where to start.

Beaded jewelry by Kathy King
click to see gallery

My current work has me playing with building 3D bead quilled shapes. I plan to further explore these shapes and look at making some non-wearable beaded project s in the future. Plus, I have recently been inspired by string art designs (big craft in the 1970s) and have started playing with adding it to my bead quilled pieces. Lots of fun ideas to explore!

As for colors I like to use, I love all colors and it depends on my mood. Though I do tend to use more subdued colors, I will throw some bright beads in every now and then. As for type of beads I enjoy using, I do not know what I would do without my Delicas. I love using them and have them in almost all of my work, I especially like using the size 10s in my bead quilled pieces. I am also a collector of handmade lampwork beads. I don't often use them in my work but display them proudly in a case on my wall. I have also bought a lot of German and Czech glass beads over the years that I love but still use my seed beads for 90% of my work it seems.

Beaded jewelry by Kathy King
click to see gallery

I also really enjoy teaching beading designs. I started teaching about seven years ago at my local bead stores and beading groups. Since then I have traveled to teach at the Bead & Button Show and for a number of beading societies within the United States. I hope to travel to teach more in the future, since it combines my love of beads, spending time with other beaders, and travel.

When it comes to other beaders I admire, there are so many I am not sure who to mention. The biggest influence is probably Carol Wilcox Wells, since she is the one who introduced me to bead weaving. I so admire her work and she is an amazing instructor as well. There are so many other wonderful artists I have met in person and on the internet. I love Facebook for the beading community it has created. I get so inspired and motivated by looking at all the creations people post on their pages.

My beading dreams for the future would be to be able take my finished work to more national and international shows. It is very gratifying when someone falls in love with a piece of your work and is excited to take it home and wear it. I also plan to teach more and work on new instructions for a number of my completed pieces.

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About author:

Kathy King, Cary, North Carolina, USA

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