A Recursive Bead, Otherwise Known as
A Beaded Bead

The standard joke is that a bead is a marble that's lost its virginity. (I saw this recently on a t-shirt, misspelled: ...lost it's virginity—though I always have admired Beadwork magazine for running that ‘bead whore’ story, I'm too prudish myself to wear such a sentiment across my chest. Especially misspelled.) This of course makes more sense to the stone bead folks, since their objects of desire do indeed start out unperforated. No doubt others—beaders who lead dual lives as computer programmers or Douglas Hofstadter fans—have christened beaded beads recursive, but for some reason, the characterization hasn't caught on. Too bad.


Though I think of myself as self-taught, that's a tad on the generous side: it's fair to say, perhaps, that most of what I've learned, I've learned on my own, but ultimately, that's always the case. And does it make a difference if one learns from a book, or a person? If there are complete instructions, or merely an idea that points one in a certain direction?

In this case, I can safely say I was taught this technique: I took many classes through the Great Lakes Beadworkers’ Guild, and one of them was taught by Joanne Laessig. Her specialty is beaded embroidery, and I did indeed make a beaded embroidered sample, though mine was a needlecase top rather than a pin. Just for fun she also threw in these ‘beaded beads’.

I'd done enough peyote by this time to be comfortable with my rather free form approach, which included some decidedly un-seed bead components, such as malachite chips. This piece was one of those lucky accidents that just came out really well. I had a nice piece of black silk kumi with royal blue and emerald green diamonds leftover from the Chatt piece, and since the wooden bead on which the beadweaving was mounted had a nice big hole I was able to string it on the silk cord.

It remains one of my favorite, quick-to-throw-on light, casual pieces for everyday wear. Wood, glass, semi-precious stone, nylon, silk. 90s, collection of the artist. Camera did a nice job (I bought this camera because it does such nice closeups) but of course every scratch and hair shows. To light the underside of the bead, I bounced light with a little mirror. That part worked okay.