Explore Bead Art on Fabric with Nancy Eha

Students dubbed Nancy Eha “The Beading Queen.”

©2015 Nancy Eha, The Beading Queen

©2015 Nancy Eha, The Beading Queen

What may have once been a whimsical name has become a designation for this bead artist. With three books and numerous online courses to her name, The Beading Queen is focused on teaching others how to bead on fabric.

Nancy’s resentations and classes often begin with an inspiring thought or quote, such as this one by Alan Alda which sums up her definition of creativity.

“Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You cannot get there by bus, only by hard work, risking and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you will discover will be wonderful: Yourself.”  —Alan Alda

I discovered Nancy Eha’s online class hosted by Interweave (read more in this post) and marveled at her bead art. When she agreed to be interviewed for this blog and I asked:

How did your art evolve and how have you evolved as a result?

For over 20 years I have spent countless hours with beads, thread, and fabric continuingly asking “What if?” questions. Sometimes the outcome is what I hoped for, many times it is not. But I learn something from every challenge, something that gives me more insight into what I call “Bead Physics”. It is with great pride that through this process I have developed beading processes and techniques which I believe are unique to my explorations. Elevated and Crazy Beading to name two.

©2015 Nancy Eha, detail of crazy quilt

©2015 Nancy Eha, detail of crazy quilt

A native of Minnesota, Nancy’s Gallery displays a 47” x 47” crazy quilt she made about her life. You can see other crazy quilt examples on her website.

How do you feel when you’re in your creative space and what does that feeling
contribute to your end result?

I spend much time in solitude which keeps me focused and ever creating, it is necessary to be an introvert to do so. I have recently acknowledged without apology, that I am an introvert. I have learned that to perfect a technique I have developed, and teach it in courses and in my books requires many hours of trial and error, and note taking in a journal. I do that best with absolute focus and quiet surroundings. Also, I have learned to never give up.

Do you see an impact of fellow artists on you and your work?

I cannot say that any artist’s work has a direct impact on me and my style, not cognitively. I like to be unique and not follow another’s creative path. My inspiration is all around, everywhere. I often collect bits of seemingly unrelated stuff, just because it appeals to me. I put them in a box or tin which I call My Muse Box. Occasionally two unrelated objects or ideas form an idea in my mind and become an inspiration to create new art.

©2015 Nancy Eha, beaded detail

©2015 Nancy Eha, beaded detail

As an artist, are there doubts and struggles you face?

I have come to believe that we are all artists, if we allow ourselves to be. As a child I received messages such as, “Make the picture look just like mine”, or “You cannot play with clay, it makes a mess. So I have struggled in the past wondering if I was an artist, as I do not have any formal training or an art degree, do not work as a studio artist, and do not make a living selling art. The hallmarks of what some believe you need to be an artist. My motto: If you are making or creating, you are an artist!

I have a favorite quote that says it well. “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
Pablo Picasso

What impact do you want to have with your art and on whom?

I am a teaching artist; my focus is on teaching others beading on fabric as primary focalpoints. If I can bring the joy of learning, the inspiration to create, and satisfaction of doing what you thought you could not do…then my life as ben well lived.

Salud, Nancy! Fabulous mission statement! As the voice of one, I assure you I learned from your thorough and thoughtful presentation. You inspired me to create on fabric, something I’d not done. And anytime I’m creating, there is joy, joy joy. I refer to this as the soul of beading.

What about you, dear reader?  How will you ensure your life is well lived?