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5 questions with Heather Kingsley-Heath

heather KH 2

Heather is an English beadwork artist who teaches nationally and internationally.  She teaches at Milwaukee, WI's Bead&Button Show, Beader’s Best in Hamburg, Germany, the UK’s Big Bead show, and Das Perlament in Cologne, Germany. She is the current UK Ambassador for National Beading Week. 

Heather’s love of beads and color is infectious and she has inspired and encouraged many budding designers. Her beaded jewelry is delicate, richly detailed and infinitely wearable. With designs inspired by history, heritage, vintage and treasure, her work explores the relationships between wearer and object. Heather is also known for her more experimental figurative and sculptural pieces which combine a huge range of seed beading techniques with magical wizardry to create three dimensional pieces inspired by nature and her English garden.

heather KH 3

HOW DID YOU LEARN JEWELRY MAKING?

I was truly lucky to grow up in a family of creative people, and no television. So I learned early on to knit, sew, crochet, do woodwork and handle tools. I began by teaching myself jewelry making, fascinated by beadwork in museums and art history books. I started with wire and beads, making wedding jewelry and tiaras, then graduated to thread and beads when the seed beads seduced me. I took classes with Sue Jackson and Wendy Hubrick, and they definitely helped light the fire that made me realize that beadwork was where I belonged.

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LITTLE OWL, a kit and pattern available on Heather's website. 

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE THAT YOU EVER GOT FROM A TEACHER OR A MENTOR?

There have been lots of truly good people who are mentors and teachers, but I think my most often used bit of advice is, "Do what makes your heart sing." The one I have pinned on my noticeboard is "Don’t stop until you’re proud." Which is a real help when it comes to doing the diagrams!

WHAT’S THE GOOFIEST/MOST EMBARRASSING MISTAKE THAT YOU EVER MADE?

Not realizing until last year that I can use a short needle to weave in the thread ends, I know! Facepalm! The other is arriving in class only to realize I’ve left the beadwork samples on the sideboard at home 200 miles away; that was truly an awful moment, now I have checklists for my checklists!

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Heather's free pattern for National Beading Week

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR WORK?

You’ll find me in junk shops and old buildings happily soaking up the vintage. I love to visit museums and will arrange to rummage in their archives; museum curators are wonderful people and fascinating to chat with. But if the weather is nice I’m in the garden stalking creepie crawlies with my camera, or waiting for the breeze to drop so I can get non-blurry pics of flowers and foliage. 

albion stitch

WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?

Right now I am busy being ambassador for National Beading Week here in the UK and online. Several designers have created free patterns for people to bead during the week, mine is a bracelet and I’m getting excited to see people’s creations. Pictures are beginning to arrive on my Facebook page and it’s so lovely to see all the different interpretations.  

I have a busy autumn of travelling and teaching so I’m packing kits and printing patterns. In between, I’m working on new designs. For several months, I’ve been busy creating a new website which has kept me away from the beading, so it’s bliss to be up and running again. And of course I'm promoting my book, Introducing Albion Stitch, that teaches a stitch that I developed. 

If you’d like to know more about the UK's Beadworkers Guild and National Beading Week, check out their websites: www.beadworkersguild.org.uk and  www.nationalbeadingweek.co.uk 

People Chain x 12
The logo for National Beading Week!
FIND MORE: seed beads , bead weaving

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