It’s a joy to talk with artists about creativity, especially bead creativity, and share those stories with you.
National designer, instructor and bead artist Marcia Balonis set a high benchmark when she brought her “Over the Moon” bracelet class to members of the New Mexico Bead Society.
Marcia, who has taught beading for more than 15 years, presented the most straight-forward, understandable instructions I’ve seen. They prompted me to ask about her background.
She agreed to answer a few of my questions.
Balonis Bead Creativity Surprises
“When I first started bead weaving, I was working full time in numbers all day and escaped into my bead weaving in my free time. Working with my hands and the beads allowed me to focus on something other than work. My creative space is less of a location than a process.”
“I think my artistic side surprised people. Although I remember watching my parents painting, I was not encouraged to create or go into art as a child. My parents encouraged a practical career where I could support myself. Art was to play. Later as it became more and more important to me and consumed my spare time, it would surprise people that a financial manager had such an artistic side.”
Marcia talked about what creativity means to her.
“Creativity is an expression of a person’s feelings about many things. For me it allows me to block out external ‘noise’ to make something pretty with my hands. I can focus on my little creation and be in that moment.”
I asked how her art evolved. Did it have a role in her childhood?
“ I used to watch my parents painting. They were part of an oil painting group. People would come to our house and paint. It interested me and was my first introduction to art.
Balonis Confesses a Life-long Passion for Jewelry
Like many bead artisans, Marcia has had a life-long passion for jewelry. She told me her first bead projects involved macramé during the 1970’s. While making macramé hangers for plants at the time, she discovered a few pieces of jewelry. Inspired by the pictures, she gave it a try.
“As a young girl, I remember going thru my mother’s jewelry box and fondling each treasure. I would wonder at their beauty and construction. I had not tried to make anything yet. So, I gave macramé a try. I made dozens of necklaces some with 100’s of knots twisted into designs usually with one focal center piece. Focal pieces included bigger beads, large drops from old style chandeliers, or treasured old African trade beads. After the first pieces, I started stringing all kinds of combinations of beads.”
Today, Marcia’ prolific designs inspire bead students from across the country. Her successful Etsy shop <> attracts hundreds of visitors and boasts more than 5,400 sales since its inception in 2010.
We discussed the impact of fellow artists on her and her work.
“Of course, I think we all pick up elements of what we learn from others and incorporate those elements in other ways in our pieces.”
When I asked about doubts and struggles and she had this to say:
“At one time there were doubts and struggles. Would others like it? That was my biggest concern. Today, I’m older and do not care as much about what others think. I care more about the process of creation from an idea in my head to making it work.”
When one views the many projects she teaches, the kits she offers or the ideas she presents, it’s easy to understand the conviction with which Marcia comments:
“My passion for bead weaving grew and over time I started to teach and share that passion for the art of making beautiful things with others. It gives me great joy to share the passion for beading with others.”
Thank you for sharing your comments, Bead Artist Marcia Balonis! It was my pleasure to learn from you. As others read about your transition from the financial “bean counter” world to the artistic one, I trust they will also be inspired to pursue beauty and the art of making beautiful things with others.
Disclosure: I loved Marcia’s class and have not yet finished my project, but here’s a picture of it so far.
Marcia will be teaching a number of classes at the Santa Fe Bead Fest in March 2017 and at Bead and Button where she has taught every year since 2005.