Erin Simonetti: Bead Loom Weaving Master
Since I’ve been putting together a little section about bead loom weaving, I just had to introduce you to Erin Simonetti. Now, you might already know her beautiful bead loom work. But if you don’t, you should!
I first met Erin Simonetti back when I was working as editor of Bead and Jewellery Magazine. She gave us a wonderful project for the magazine and became a personal friend in the process. So, I’m thrilled that she has been kind enough to do this interview here. As you will soon realise from Erin’s work, she is much in demand. So, on behalf of you all, I’m sending her huge thanks for fitting this into her schedule. Enjoy!
Introducing Erin Simonetti…
How did you get started in beading?
At the age of 12 I was vacationing, at my Aunt’s home. Aunt Gertrude was a fine seamstress. To help me with boredom, I was handed a handmade Mahogany bead loom, one she used to adorn outfits. It was the most amazing tool I have ever seen. Enjoying to weave the beads, wasn’t enough. My goal was to make use of every strip and recreate durable, three-dimensional wearable art.
Later years, brought me into owning many more bead colours and designing my own patterns. These were woven when I was 12-15 years old.
Did you have any formal training?
I graduated from an Art College, in Maryland, MICA, with a focus on oil painting. During my early years, I visited any library I could find, even Boys Clubs of America, to seek books on bead weaving. The books were titled as American Indian style beading. None offered techniques to manage warps or manipulate weavings into finished jewellery. I was not daunted by the lack of information, but continued to experiment with my own means of creating patterns and jewellery, from woven sections of beads. A ‘light bulb’ would go off, on a new idea, and I expanded on that. I continue the same road of experimenting to this day.
Is beading now your full-time career, or is it still a hobby?
I have a passion for weaving on the bead loom. My interest is to share my methods and introduce a positive thought process, about the bead loom. So many feel it is too much work to manage the warps, or not enough creative designs can be accomplished, on the 2D weave. For these reasons I travel, teaching all through the US, when invited. I could call this a career, but I like to consider it more of a shared interest.
What are your favourite techniques?
My favourite technique is surely using the bead loom and weaving beads across the warps. However, my favourite style is to create 3D accents, from the two dimensional design plain.
How would you describe the “Erin Simonetti” style?
“Wearable Art”. I like working with 11/0 Delicas. They offer the largest colour/finish palette of any bead line on the market. I am able to paint with them and create shadows and dimension, just from the bead colour and finish choices I make.
Who, or what, inspires your work?
I love adding whimsy to my design ideas. Anytime I can include something that brings a smile, to others, when they see it, makes me feel I have accomplished what I wanted.
Do you have a favourite piece (or pieces) of work?
This is one of the early 3D pieces I completed and was a Finalist in “Bead Dreams”, my fourth time being a Finalist, “Mermaid Tole”. The layers were challenging to figure out due to the bent arm and such.
Creating patterns for the added layers, are ‘trial and error’ at times, but I find it intriguing. The goal is to create the layers, with less warp management required. A particular means of weaving and warping the loom, must be considered for each layer.
What is your beading space like?
Full of colour! It feels good to enter a colourful room and it gives me a feeling of creativity.
I arranged my ‘Bead Loom Factory’ to be comfortable for weaving in a comfy chair or at a desk. Classes are not held, at my home, but I do have room for another weaver.
There is artwork on the walls for inspiration. My Looms are also able to be hung on the walls, with a weave half completed or empty, ready for the next idea.
A convenient Photography set up is important, for writing kit instructions or advertising a completed piece for advertising a class. Therefore, I set up a permanent Photo stage, with cubes top and bottom to hold props or other necessities to photograph.
Outside of this room, is a large, double bi-fold door closet with wide, long shelves. Cubes are used again to sort the colours, styles and sizes of beads I have on hand. I prefer my storage away from my creative space, and display things that can inspire.
Do you teach beadwork at all?
Yes, I do get invited to teach and schedule such classes every other month, or so. I have visited many places around the US and love meeting enthusiastic bead weavers. Such days can’t be beat! (I am able to talk about weaving beads on a loom for many hours in one day!!)
Has your work been published anywhere?
Years ago, I was putting a lot of attention on submitting patterns and articles to various magazines. Since travel teaching, I have been doing all of my writing for class instruction.
My past publishing includes, BeadMe, UKBead, BeadWork, Step-by-Step Beads, and others. The most requested pattern, a Steampunk Theme Cuff, is still available on a UK Magazine Site, as a single pattern. I hear from my students, often, how popular it is.
My bead art has also been used in advertising for one of the largest bead suppliers, online, and shown on the back pages of many different magazines. Other such patterns/articles were published in other areas of the world, i.e., Digibead in Australia, Perlen Poesie in Germany, MJSA Journal (that includes information for professional jewellery designers), “The Best of Bead and Button” book, and a Finalist in Bead Dreams (4) times…to name a few.
Do you sell your work? If so, where?
Just after College, I invested in tents and showcases so I would be accepted to sell in various local ‘Juried’ Art Festivals. I did this for about five years and decided that was a lot of work, setting up and taking down, three days in a row. So, I looked at other means to share my bead art.
Coffee Shops were anxious to allow my boards, in their shops. I created the Needle Felted Dolls, covered cork boards with fabric then pinned my creations to them, draping some necklaces around the necks of “The Girls”. I am shown, in the photo above, putting final touches on the new board, being swapped out. The new board has a Christmas Theme. I enjoyed dressing The Girls, for various Holidays! Five Coffee Shops were great because I could swap out boards, from shop to shop, every two weeks.
Teaching, publishing and an Etsy Shop, were next on my agenda, mostly patterns and a few kits. I think it is best for the buyer to touch and feel the finished bead art, to make a sale. Sometimes a large purchase over the internet is questionable for many buyers. So, I haven’t sold finished pieces in years, but bring them to classes for inspiration or to discuss new ideas.
Do you do other forms of craft as well?
I dabbled. My hopes were to learn more insights on mediums that would blend well with my bead loom weaving. However, I think staying with one technique is best because it is at the time you feel bored with it, that you then find ways to make it more rewarding. This then ‘ups’ your methods and experience.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to create their own designs?
Do what you find appeals to your sense of creative design. When an Artist feels comfortable with their own designs and colour selections, many feel comfortable with their art. It is the commitment to a technique that draws others to you. Art is in the eye of the beholder and I find that so true. Let your personality shine through your designs and learn lessons along the way.
Do you have any tips for people who want to sell their work?
Sell in person. Let others feel and inspect the intricacies of your art. This can happen at small festivals, clubs, a corner in a coffee shop or waiting area of a restaurant and even in your own home. Sometimes, art is sold on who the Artist is and their philosophies, not just the finished piece. So, when your passion is evident, others want to be a part of it.
Where to find out more
I hope that has left you with as much admiration as I have for Erin Simonetti and her work. I mean, who wouldn’t want to bead in that gorgeous, inspiring studio?!
So, if that has inspired you to try one of Erin’s patterns, you can find her Etsy shop at this link
Erin has also been kind enough to share some of her gorgeous work in the photos on here. If you want to see more, then check out the complete Erin Simonetti back catalogue here on her website!
Lastly, as you may realise, Erin Simonetti is a master at her craft. All those years of creating have given her a wealth of experience that she loves to pass on. So, you will find brilliant blogs, full of helpful advice, at this link.
I’m also thrilled to announce that Erin has been kind enough to answer specific questions from Bead Loom enthusiasts on my ‘Better Beader’ mailing list. So, look out for that amazing advice next time.
To be sure you don’t miss it, make sure you are signed up to my free mailing list. You’ll get a monthly email full of great articles, tips and tricks to improve your beadwork, whatever your level of experience or interest. Sound good? – then click here to sign up now.