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Bead artist Alexandra Sydorenko

Sometimes it certainly seems to me that I was born this way - with a needle in my hands... But don't be frightened! Let's start from the beginning.

My name is Alexandra (Oleksandra) Sydorenko. I was born in 1969 in the charming, ancient Ukrainian city, Lvov, during the Soviet Union times. It's only now that the phrase, "the Soviet Union" sounds archaic to the young generation. For me these were, are, and will always be times of my impeccably joyous childhood, happy teenage years, and my fervent early adulthood.

Grandmother's gerdan
click to enlarge

Since I was a child only a few years old, I've always tried to make something beautiful with my own two hands. I learned from my father the arts of woodworking and beekeeping. Thanks to my grandmother and my aunt, I started embroidering and needle working. My mom showed me love for literature and books, and good music. And finally, my grandmother Anastasia, it was from her that I inherited my passion for beads and my grandmother's gerdan (a type of ethnic necklaces in Eastern Europe). I am still safekeeping that treasure today.

I've always believed (and still do so now) that if one really wants to learn something, he or she will, undeniably, do so. That was how different periods came into my life: designing and creating clothes, different forms of knitting, patchwork and quilting, working on sewing machines, decorative wood burning, pencil sketches of people dear to me, and many other crafts... and beading! Beads - they are my entire life's song. Everything I make - clothes, quilts, woodworking, embroidery - has at least a few beads somewhere.

Beadwork by Alexandra Sydorenko
click to see gallery

My mother had bought me my first bag of beads in the distant days of my childhood. The beads were terribly uneven and the worst shade of a kind of dirty green imaginable, but the miniscule glass spheres literally charmed me. Along with the small bag of beads my mom bought me a book about beadwork. It was a thin, black-and-white copy printed on sad-looking gazette-type paper, but it held something precious: a peyote rope pattern. At seven years of age I made my first rope.

Unfortunately, my happiness did not last long... Nobody told the naive child that I needed to use a special, strong thread, not regular sewing thread. But this didn't stop me. I kept on beading, slowly grasping the concepts of new techniques.

I was reincarnated as a beader about one and a half years ago. It all started out very simply. My younger brother accidentally ran in with the website and sent me a link with a message attached: "Look at this - there are lots of interesting things here. You'll like this." Like?!!! That was a huge understatement! I fell in love and I was charmed. I couldn't stay away from the local libraries, especially the Arts and Crafts section for two years before discovering this Internet society of beaders.

Beadwork by Alexandra Sydorenko
click to see gallery

I'd looked at so many different books about beading and semi-precious stones with thoughts of, "How beautiful! How talented, lucky, and happy people who create such great, amazing pieces of art must be! But why can't I do things like this? Can't I? Oh, no!! Now I simply must try!" I bought a few gemstones and began working.

I couldn't bring myself to register on for three months. And then I finally found the courage! I was welcomed with warm, open, loving arms. Extraordinary masters complimented my timid attempts and encouraged me with kind words and very useful advice. My dear beaders, thank you! You became to me teachers and like-minded, sympathetic friends. Most of my successes are because of you all.

Looking at my year-and-a-half-old work now, I understand how naive and simple it was, but I still love it nonetheless, since with them started my new song of beading. Even a day without beads is like a catastrophe to me. Beading and designing jewelry has become as vital to me as breathing. Sometimes I jump out of bed in the middle of the night in a mad dash against time and bad memory to sketch an idea for a necklace before I forget it. That's exactly what happened with my set "The Mystery Of Snake Hill," which won first place in the contest "In The Summer Forest Shadows," held by Irina Prisyazhnuk.

Beadwork by Alexandra Sydorenko
click to see gallery

I received countless hours of pleasure and happiness when I worked on my necklace called "Solar Power," which made the 2010 Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Bronze Medal. I don't even know what brings more joy and excitement: seeing all my hard work pays off when I win the contest, or the hard work itself? For me, it's definitely the process! Admittedly, the participation in a contest is also a nice awakening - it forces me to really think!

I like combining different materials and techniques in my work. Leather, glass, gemstones, metal - they all get put into my work. I love working with more challenging stones, the ones that have their own pictures, their own character, their own attitude. It's an unsaid, simple pleasure - correctly understanding an unusual stone and giving it a fitting framing! Mother Nature is the greatest artist and it's our job to correctly perceive, interpret, and understand her work.

Beadwork by Alexandra Sydorenko
click to see gallery

When I first heard of the Fashion Colorworks contest, I immediately decided, "I have to give a try!" But when I saw the colors to be used, I was a little doubtful. The color palettes at first seemed like they "were not mine." I lost a bit of my previous excitement and adrenaline for making another contest-bound. Only Zoya Gutina's kind words made me get to work with a renewed gleam in my eye.

As I further examined the colors, I realized that the green and yellow color set is actually pretty good for me. My mind's eye gave me an image: a large, bright, seemingly alive, yellow glistening on green rain-bathed leaves. But I did not want to leave it all alone; it looked like it should be accompanied. Then I remembered my little pearls, and they became flower buds, growing on a branch. I was very fortunate that the pearls were shaped irregularly; this allowed me to give it extra dimension.

From an entire strand of pearls, I only chose five and placed them in order of largest to smallest. But a light, warm summer rain is nothing without delightful little bubbles in puddles. Then, they appeared in the jewelry set, too. I drew a sketch and started to pick out materials. There are over twenty shades of various beads in this necklace, and I played around with both their sizes and shapes.

Beadwork by Alexandra Sydorenko
click to see gallery

The finished jewelry set was small, light, and alive. I simply adore it. The yellow flower spreads out like the hymn of Life against the background of a calm, tranquil green leaf. It attracts many gazes and forces a smile on even the most somber faces... Even on you, dear readers, it appears to have also unleashed its power for bringing happiness. The People's Choice Award is a great honor for me and the best proof that my creations bring happiness to people. Thank you, my friends, for you votes and support!

I also want to thank all the women who participated in this event. Ladies: We are all winners, I think. We have all created unique, original pieces of beadwork. Thanks to all the judges, because I can only imagine how hard their decisions must have been.

Beadwork by Alexandra Sydorenko
click to see gallery

And the most sincere words to the two people without whom this contest would never have existed, the two people who input every ounce of their energy and their souls into the contest: Zoya and George Gutins. Thank you for your hard work, for the happiness that you gave us all, for your excellent newsletter and website, and for all the bead beauties that are born in Zoya's magic hands, that can serve as the best samples of bead artwork. Thank you!!! I can't wait for the next contest!

In conclusion, I just want to say one thing: If someone were to ask me right now whether I am a happy person, I would not hesitate for even a moment before saying, "YES!!!" And I have reasons for this. The first is that I have a family who understands and respects my passion. The second is that my friends' value and appreciate my creations. My parents are proud of me. Thank you, my dearest ones!

I can only sing my bead song due to your understanding and encouragement. Dear readers may in you hearts, as in mine, always resonate your bead song and profound happiness when you are working with your beads.

Happy beading!

My gallery on

About author:

Alexandra Sydorenko, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, USA
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