Jan Huling

Several years ago, my sister came to visit me and brought with her a few Pez dispensers that she’d covered with beads. I found them completely charming and decided to try this craft myself. I started with small objects, kazoos, but was soon inspired by the colors and patterns to cover bigger and bigger pieces. Besides working on a bigger scale, I’ve also begun to play with the forms themselves, fusing different shapes together, using various found objects to add extra dimension to my work.

For some 30 years I was a freelance commercial artist, working on everything from dinnerware to ribbon, textiles to teapots. I decided to leave that life behind in 2008 to work full time as a beadist. Inspired by the culture of India and Mexico, particularly that of the Huichol Indians, I try to take mostly ordinary objects such as dolls, instruments, mannequins, and in ornamenting their surfaces, bring out the magic and elegance of their basic shapes. If I can add a bit of wit, so much the better!

My technique is a meticulous one of stringing tiny glass seed beads in patterns, laying down a very fine line of glue directly on the object, gluing down one line of beads, and pulling out the thread. It’s a very slow, zen-like process, but so rewarding as the designs grow and reveal themselves to me. I don’t plan my designs, but allow them to grow organically.

Having worked all of those years in commercial design, I feel confident enough in my artistic abilities to bead without a net. Seeing the surprising effects that happen when patterns and colors juxtapose on a surface is the reward for what some might consider artistic bravery.

I’ve been so pleased at the reception my work has enjoyed, at galleries, online and in a variety of publications. I feel lucky to be making work that is so satisfying to me and also makes other people happy.

In November 2017 I'll be participating in a show at AVAM, the American Visionary Museum in Baltimore. For that show, whose theme is Mystery, I'll be exploring my connection with my mother who recently passed away. I'm hesitant to reveal too much about this project, but I think (and certainly hope!) that it'll be very unusual and very personal. And mysterious!

In June 2018 my beadist pal Nancy Josephson and I will be teaching a 5 day workshop for twelve students in the south of France! We taught a 5 day last April in Puerto Vallarta and is was GREAT!!! So if you're interested in our next one, please contact me at janhuling@yahoo.com and I'll send you more info.

In the meantime, I show my work through the Duane Reed Gallery out of St. Louis and will be showing with them at SCOPE Miami November 29 - December 4, 2016.

This entry was posted in .