The story of me: I’m a 58 year old artist living in Chetek, Wisconsin. I have been interested in beads most of my life because I have also been in theatre and worn beaded clothing. Putting on a heavy beaded gown makes my heart skip a beat and, when my art gets to that weighty process, I get so excited!
I began beading over fabric back in the 70’s when hippies ruled and I used to decorated my jeans but it wasn’t until about eight years ago that I started applying them to art. First, I would paint a painting on canvas and glue beads around it, then I realized I could paint on fabric and bead right on top of it. That’s when my current style became the driving force behind my art.
It began with a few beads here and there over a piece of muslin that I painted to look like scenery or an animal like a turtle. Then I started to paint on colored calico to give the art new dimensions. I would draw over it too with either a wax pencil or fabric markers. The beads eventually took over the painted parts and I ended up with solid pieces of beaded fabric pictures that had the weight of those theatrical gowns. I either mounted these on birch bark frames or sewed them onto pillows or wall hangings.
When I started to look for actual bead art shows to exhibit in, I was led to the Kobe Bead Art Show in Yokohama, Japan. I had visited Japan before and loved it so I signed up for a booth. Since I was traveling, I needed to find a smaller beaded piece than the ones I was doing and I came up with the idea for beaded postcards. I used old photos of kitschy postcards from the 40’s-60’s and I once again painted them onto calico and beaded them. I mounted them on wood backed with felt and attached a hanging devise.
I ended up going to Japan twice to be in the Kobe Bead Art Show, which then led me to this year’s travels in Japan where I got to have a private tour of the TOHO bead factory in Kabe. I wrote to them asking to see how beads were made and, after jumping through such hoops as, ‘Where do you buy your beads? What do you make with your beads? Why do you want to see the factory?’, I convinced them with photos of my art and my Facebook page. It was fascinating to see how much work goes into the making of tiny beads. I presented them with two gifts of my beaded style.
I draw inspiration from my travels in Japan, the beautiful world of nature around me, and vintage photos. I am completely drawn to color and my process of searching for the perfect bead colors has given me quite a collection of beads to work with.
I originally worked with only seed beads but I have progressed my style into what I call conglomerations, where I use jewelry parts, shells, beads of all sizes, toys, sari trimmings, trinkets, charms, and more all piled onto the fabric with hand sewn embroidery. I buy beads anywhere I can find them and I renovated an old cupboard from a junk shop to house them. My art space, alas, is only one table in my dining room, however, I do utilize the dining room table, kitchen island, my bed, and any other horizontal surface when finishing a piece!
My specialty has turned out to be beaded pet portraits and vacation homes. You can commission a piece or find me on these sites: nancyericksondutmer.net and NancyEricksonDutmerArtist on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.