Here’s a little snippet of beady publishing history that you might find interesting...
In 2002 Interweave’s founder, Linda Ligon, and I sat in a hotel lobby in New York to discuss starting a new magazine that solely concerned stringing beads. It was a completely revolutionary idea at the time and, quite frankly, I thought it was a bit nuts; beadweavers like me often viewed stringing as our community’s wallflower cousin. She said she wanted a magazine that stretched people’s creativity, helping them explore new materials to expand their vision of what stringing could be. Her general edict was, “Make it beautiful, make it colorful, and I don’t want to see page after page of ‘bumps on a string.’ What I want is page after page of gorgeous pieces that you might find at a museum shop or gallery. No ‘safe’ jewelry in this one.”
When I got back to the office in Colorado, I broke it to the Beadwork magazine team (then Jamie Hogsett and Dustin Wedekind) that we were starting up a new magazine. It would include 100 pieces, have jaw-dropping work, and there could be absolutely no 'bumps on a string.' I think Jamie and Dustin thought the idea was a little crazy, too; we were all pretty beadweaving-centric at that time. In our discussion that day I sketched out some little drawings to explain what I think Linda was talking about. Miraculously, I found those sketches in a file cabinet in the basement this morning; and can share those first bright glimmers of Stringing with you now. Sometimes it pays to be a packrat!
We set off as a team to break out of our little design boxes and to bust up our notions of what stringing beads on a cord could be. The exercise produced 100 really nice pieces for our first special issue, and I know it gave us all a rich appreciation for the technique. Now, after 5 years, dozens of issues, and hundreds of gorgeous pieces later, I see Linda's idea for Stringing magazine was right on. I guess that's why she's the boss.
Danielle Fox, Stringing magazine's current editor, recently sent me a copy of The Best of Stringing, a fantastic issue with 183 projects--21 of which are brand new. She attached this note that made me tear up a little. This magazine, as well as the technique in general, has certainly "grow'd up" in the last several years, certainly past my little sketches. It's been due, in large part, to how bravely our community of designers, teachers, vendors, and publishers have embraced and experimented with this technique. We've gone far beyond 'bumps on a string', that's for sure.
Danielle had her own warm and fuzzy moment seeing this magazine come together: "I've been on the Stringing staff since its second issue. I'll tell you, it's been so much fun to watch and help the magazine grow. I'm really excited about The Best of Stringing because it brings together all of our favorite projects in a single edition. The hardest part was narrowing down our selections. What I think we came up with is a great mix of evergreen projects, the kind that inspire you again and again."
So I guess the challenge going forward, for all of us who love to string beads, is to continue to play and experiment, pushing the technique to unexplored creative highs. How will you contribute? What new stringing techniques or materials have you been using to make your work new and unique? What trends do you see around the bend? Why not share your ideas and thoughts below or on the Beading Daily forums?