Bead&Button magazine has a connection to the jewelry worn on "Project Runway"! Contestant Miranda Levy recently wore a necklace by Milwaukee-based designer Melissa Wagner-Lawler. The necklace is part of a line that Melissa calls "The Cellular," for obvious reasons. Each asymmetrical piece is made with seed beads in a technique that we would call free-form netting.
We caught up with Melissa recently to ask her a few questions, beader to beader.
Q: Tell me about "The Cellular" line. What do cells represent to you? What do you hope to say through them?
A: "The Cellular" series is inspired by irregular and organic patterns found in nature. The multiplication of the organic circular shape -- from the glass bead to each individual cell to the piece as a whole -- creates a repetitious and sometimes unpredictable pattern system. Because of this, no two pieces are alike. I started creating these several years ago after using beading for an art piece. While I didn't continue to use beading in my art practice, I found that making jewelry was (of course!) a good outlet for my desire to bead. I've been attracted to seed beads since I was about 10 years old when I acquired my first bead loom. There's something about how small, delicate, and precious seed beads are that I'm continually drawn to.
Q: How do you like working in such a free-form manner? Do you ever struggle to keep the piece going in the direction you envision while working with this organic approach?
A: In my art practice, I tend to work rather intuitively. This method of working allows me to be reactionary and spontaneous and embrace the end result. This transfers to the way I create jewelry because I find that if I have a set plan of how I want something to turn out and it doesn't end up that way, I'm unnecessarily frustrated. Of course, I have torn apart pieces and started over or set things aside for later.
Q: Any favorite tips for working with beads or working in a free-form technique?
A: EMBRACE THE MYSTERY! As a professor of fine art, I often tell my students this piece of advice: Things may not always work out, it may not be beautiful, but regardless, you will learn something from the process. When working in a free-form method, it's important to remember the shape of the body that the piece will fit on. This was perhaps my biggest struggle when I started creating these pieces.
Q: How did your jewelry end up on Miranda Levy?
A: I've been friends with Miranda Levy for years! Luckily, I was able to send her off with some pieces for TV, and knowing her personal style, I created pieces using colors that she could coordinate with a lot of her outfits.
To learn more about Melissa, visit www.redthreadletterpress.com. Then head over to her Etsy site where she sells pieces in "The Cellular" line!