One of the best parts about working at a bead store is meeting local beaders, every day introducing us to new artists and projects. Nancy LaHatt of “Keepsakes by Design” has impressed us with her intricate, yet delicate tatted lace designs, so we’ve asked her to make some hand-tatted components to sell as our November Artist of the Month. Nancy’s finished jewelry and lace components will be available for sale at the Bead Bazaar throughout the month, so make sure to stop by and marvel at the products of this talented woman’s patience and dedication! Her work can also be purchased on her Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/designedkeepsakes.

An Interview with Nancy LaHatt

What kind of tatting work do you do?
A: Different types of tatting use different tools. I do traditional shuttle tatting in which a shuttle is used to hold the thread as you make the lace. The shuttle is specially shaped so you can go in and out of your working space easily, helping with speed, and it has a little tip on the end for working with picots and to help unpick knots. Tatting is completely different from bobbin lace, which I’ve also done a little bit of. I like to use traditional size 80 thread- it’s a small size for tatting and produces a more delicate piece. For tatting I like to use cotton or silk thread. You don’t want to use polyester because it stretches, which will warp the piece.

Q: How long have you been tatting lace?
A: All my adult life; I’ve always been interested in fiber and have spun wool before. I saw lace making patterns in the old workbasket books and magazines, and my interest grew from there. The history of lace making is amazing! Tatting has at different times been considered both as a “beggars lace” and as a graceful way for ladies to display their hands. Lace making is sometimes called a dying art, but it’s becoming more and more prevalent these days, to the point that modern books are reprinting old patterns.

Q: How did your business get started?
A: I like doing the tatting as a hobby and always have many pieces left over. I originally gave extras away as gifts, but then Etsy was recommended by a friend.

Q: How did you come up with the name “Keepsakes by Design”?
A: I was thinking of items that people would want to buy and keep forever and ever.

Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I like to call my style neo-Victorian, an antique Victorian look that also ties in well with the Steampunk aesthetic. While I use a traditional tatting style, I add my own elements. For instance, traditionally all lace is white, but I step out and use different colors.

Q: What inspires you?
A: I love watching period pieces and seeing the designs of the costumes! They do a good job of taking the old styles and being true to their techniques.

Q: Has anyone been an influence to your work?
A: I’m mostly self-taught. While most lacemakers are very sharing of their knowledge, it was hard to find people to teach me because it wasn’t as prevalent at the time. Now there are lace making clubs all around, like the Lacemakers of Puget Sound.

Q: What other hobbies or activities do you have in your life?
A: I do knitted wire-work and have done the Viking Knit. I like hobbies that I can take with me where ever I go.

Q: Do you have any hopes or ambitions for your business in the future?
A: Just to keep doing what I’m doing because it’s relaxing, something I enjoy doing. I want to do more reaching, and I’ve told anybody who sees me doing it that I’m glad to teach them. Passing on what I know is very enjoyable.


Bead Bazaar is excited to feature one of our favorite ceramic artists as October’s Artist of the month. Jean Christen, the Clay Genie, is a talented Washington State studio potter whose distinctive beads have entranced us, and we’ll be offering an extended collection of the Clay Genie’s beads until the end of October. While we’ve introduced you to her work before, we wanted to share some of her story.

Jean started as an apprentice for a potter on Vashon Island at the age of 18, and has been a potter for over 40 years now. Being a studio potter is more of a lifestyle than a job for her.  She works with great dedication for long hours- sometimes staying awake and working for 24 hours at a time- and is rewarded with beautiful results. She credits her success to her unique style and devoted work ethic.

During her apprenticeship, Jean’s love of beads led her to try something new; the type of firing she does is a studio pottery technique, and applying that technique to beads is a trait unique to Jean’s work. Throughout her career Jean had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling and worked in many studios around the country. During this time she was able to sell her beads and found that her work and aesthetic always had an appeal, partially because of how unique it was. This success has kept her going and allowed her to dedicate her time to her pottery.

As a studio potter with a penchant for making beautiful beads and pendants Jean employs her own reduction glaze mix.  A technique developed in China, reduction glazes force the oxygen out of the clay itself, producing the glittery effect of the glaze. Colors are not always predictable, as temperature variations can produce dramatically different and unique effects. Liquefied glazes running and blending with each other can also created one-of-a-kind color combinations.

Jean goes through spurts of focusing on making pots or beads and is always experimenting with new glazes or design ideas. After 40 years, she finds making her pieces to be fun and meditative.  She never stops learning or finding new ideas. Jean finds the medium itself to be very inspiring and whether she’s making a bead or a pot, she tries to put as much beauty, color, and symbolism as she can into the piece.

Inspired by ethnic folk art, she finds beauty in the imperfect details with its sense of organic beauty rather than machined precision. She is also inspired by the details of traditional Tibetan, Islamic, and Persian art.  Jean’s highly detailed and refined aesthetic reflects these inspirations; all of her pieces are unique and organic with incredible detail. As an artist Jean loves knowing that people treasure her pieces and hopes their beauty continues to give them pleasure, whether it a piece worn around their neck or displayed in their home.

Considering her passion for clay it’s not surprising that Jean’s other passion- gardening is also tied to the earth. She started gardening when her three sons were born and loves it, finding similarities between working a lump of clay and planting a seed.  For each there’s a process and an end result coming from the minerals of the earth. Jean fondly jokes about getting her hands out of the wet clay and glazes and putting them into the compost, keeping her hands in the earth in one way or the other.  She also stays busy spending time with her 10 grandchildren and teaching classes at the Orient School. After offering classes for 102 years, the Orient School is the oldest school in the state of Washington!

Since being a studio potter is more a life style than a job, it isn’t really something one retires from, and Jean intends to continue on as an artist well into an advance age. She admiringly mentioned a woman who lived and worked as a studio potter until the age of 103! While the work is physically demanding, Jean looks at it optimistically: it keeps her physically active, and as a potter gets older they just need to pace themselves more. We look forward to seeing Jean’s continued work and experimentation, and are just thrilled by what has been achieved by such a talented Washington State artist.

We at the Bead Bazaar love supporting our local artists, beaders an bead-makers alike. Every day introduces us to new people, and when we saw the work of Joe Skar, we were hooked! Joe and his wife work together to make and sell Skar Art; Joe makes beautiful pendants and sculptural pieces while his wife makes small jars and vessels. Joe’s ethereal lampwork glass has won us over, so we wanted to share it with you! Skar Art Pendants will be available for sale at the Bellingham Bead Bazaar while we feature him as our September Artist of the month. Read on to learn more about this amazing artist.

Skar Art Glass, Bellingham local glass artist Skar Art Glass, Bellingham local glass artist Skar Art Glass, Bellingham local glass artist

What kind of glass work do you do?
A: I make lampwork glass, though a more modern term for the technique is “flamework”. Lampwork glass got it’s name because it was originally done using the flame of an oil lamp and a bellows. My pieces are made using a torch mounted to my desk.

Q: How long have you been making jewelry?
A: I began leaning how to make glass in 2001 and started really focusing on my work in 2005. I’ve gotten to observe other artists, but for the most part I’m self-taught from books, DVDs, YouTube videos, etc.

Q: How did Skar Art get started?
A: In 2008 my wife and I got our own studio. We started making more glass and selling at the Ferndale Farmer’s Market. We got our business license, and since then it’s just taken off.

Q: How did you come up with the name for your business?
A: It was a tough decision, so I put the question out on Facebook! Our original name, Skar Artworks, was the suggestion I liked the best. Since then we’ve shortened the name of our business to Skar Art. Skar is my last name, but I like to joke about having a couple of scars from making the glass.

Q: How would you describe your style?
A: In glass art terminology, I do contemporary borosilicate. That’s the kind of glass I work with. For style, I’m inspired a lot by the Pacific Northwest environment and aquatic things. I’m really into fish and like going to the aquarium. I’ve recently been working on more sculptural stuff: octopi, fish, and aquatic scenes.

Q: What inspires you?
A: Aside from the Pacific Northwest I’m inspired by my family, my daughter and wife. I’m driven by thinking about them. It keeps me going.

Q: Has anyone been an influence to your work?
A: I went to a 2012 glass art convention in Las Vegas and got to meet and see a lot of different artists, including Milon Townsend. We have different styles, but I was inspired by what he is able to do, the direction he had taken with the glass. It showed me just what I can do with it and that you don’t have to follow a pre-existing path; you can do what you want with it.

Q: What other hobbies or activities do you have in your life?
A: My wife and I both love going down to the bay or Seattle and taking pictures. We’re not professionals by a long shot, we just love doing it. I’ve always been into video production and like to make ambient videos. Another passion I have is music. I’m the drummer for a band called Animal Inside. We recently played the Cabin Tavern.

Q: Do you have any hopes or ambitions for Skar Art in the future?
A: I have too many to count! The big one I want is to find a location for a public studio for people to watch or take lessons, maybe with a gallery out in front. While we’ll be focusing more on getting stuff into stores, I don’t want to saturate the market. I also want to develop more of an online presence.

Thank you, Joe, for allowing us to interview you! Make sure to check out their Facebook page, where Joe Skar posts photos of his new work and takes special orders. You can also view their website: www.skarart.com

Skar Art glass can be found at Hammonds gallery of gifts in Barkley Village. Skar Art will be selling their work at the second annual Bellwether Jazz Festival on Saturday, September 8th, and at the Allied Arts Holiday Festival of the Arts. The Allied Arts show will run from November 16th to December 24th, 2012.

One of the best parts about working at a bead store is meeting local beaders, every day introducing us to new artists and projects. Danaelle Mason is one such artist who has wowed us with her intricate beadwork, embellishing cabochons with rows of delicate seedbead embroidery. A third generation sead-beader, Danaelle’s work infuses traditional techniques with rich colors and bold shapes, making each piece one of a kind!

D'Nell's Beaded Creations D'Nell's Beaded Creations D'Nell's Beaded Creations

Q: How long have you been making jewelry?
A: I’ve been beading for about 20 years now. My mother and grandmother are both beaders. My mom specializes in Native-style earrings and had her own business, so I was eager to learn how to bead. I started when I was 10 years old and my Mom taught me how to make beaded earrings. My Grandma also makes earrings and does traditional style beading. Beading is definitely a passion of mine. One piece took 20 hours total!

Q: How did D’Nell’s Beaded Creations get started?
A: It started about one and a half years ago. I started creating these pieces, and they sold left and right to friends or through the public market. I mostly sell through word of mouth.

Q: How did you come up with the name “D’Nell’s Beaded Creations”?
A: I just played around with it. I knew I wanted my name in there, and I liked the idea of wearable art. The name may change but so far it’s worked.

Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Hippy chic. I get lost while beading; it’s my zen meditation.

Q: What inspires you?
A: I’m inspired a lot by the natural world and what’s around me. I’m also inspired by my friends and their energy.

Q: Has anyone been an influence to your work?
A: My mother who first taught me how to bead and of course my grandmother. My mom keeps inspiring me. We bead together every day and sell our work together. We both sold pieces for the Downtown Bellingham Art Walk on July 1st, and at the public market. We definitely plan on doing it again.

Q: What other hobbies or activities do you have in your life?
A: I love gardening, reading, and cooking. I’ve enjoyed bike riding and swimming, and love to float the river. I also love spending time with my family.

Q: Do you have any hopes or ambitions for Snowy Owl Jewelry in the future?
A: I’d like to teach classes and seminars on beading, and travel around to different bead expos. I want to start an Etsy shop and make beading kits. Maybe one day I’ll have my own store front for my and other artists’ work as well.

Thank you, Danaelle, for allowing us to interview you!

Feeling inspired? Danaelle’s work will be displayed and sold at the Bead Bazaar during the month of August! Make sure to stop by and view her wearable art.

One of the best parts about working at a bead store is meeting local beaders, every day introducing us to new artists and projects. One stand-out beader who caught our eye was Sarah W. of Snowy Owl Jewelry. With such bold designs and a striking aesthetic, we had to feature her! You can view more of Sarah’s work for sale on her Etsy Page or at Evolve Salon on State Street. Her portfolio is also viewable on the Snowy Owl Jewelry Facebook Page.

Snowy Owl Jewelry Red Necklace Snowy Owl Jewelry Earrings Snowy Owl Jewelry Hairpin

Q: How long have you been making jewelry?
A: I’ve been making jewelry since I was a kid, but I started doing it a lot more in 2006. I got my business license in 2008.

Q: How did Snowy Jewelry get started?
A: When I moved to Bellingham I liked doing all different types of art. At first I made jewelry as gifts, and I was encouraged to sell it. I love the strong focus in Bellingham of supporting and buying local artists, thrifting, and re-using. There’s such a large local market, which is great!

Q: How did you come up with the name “Snowy Owl Jewelry”?
A: Don’t remember exactly where the name comes from. I love owls and make a lot of pieces with owls in them. The snowy owl is beautiful and majestic with the strong contrast between black and white; it’s nature’s art.

Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Always growing and changing. I really enjoy stones, metal, and pearls. It took me a while to start designing pieces in colors I wouldn’t necessarily wear, and I now love them and use them all the time.

Q: What inspires you?
A: In life or in my jewelry? I have very vivid dreams and will dream about the details of a new piece of jewelry and make it. I also love seeing what other people are doing on Etsy and Pinterest.

Q: Has anyone been an influence to your work?
A: Indirectly. My father used to make jewelry when I was a child. I remember being a kid and he always had a rock polisher sitting in the corner, tumbling stones. He had a tall set of tool drawers filled with stones organized by color. I always wanted to look at it and play with it!

Q: What other hobbies or activities do you have in your life?
A: I did acting when I was younger and am just now trying to get back into it. I’m going to be acting in and designing some jewelry for a local film next month called “The End Date”. It’s an independent short film. I do acting and modeling whenever I can. It’s been fun working on projects like that. I love film, creative, artistic, independent film. I love to read, write, and draw. Pisces are supposed to be artistic. I think it’s true!

Q: Do you have any hopes or ambitions for Snowy Owl Jewelry in the future?
A: Eventually I’d like to get enough exposure and experience that the business will thrive online. I think every artist would like to be self-employed, self-sustaining. The more you can do for yourself, the better.

Thank you, Sarah, for allowing us to interview you!

Feeling inspired? Sarah’s work will be displayed and sold at the Bead Bazaar, starting July 8th! Make sure to stop by and show this local artist some love.

One of the best parts about working at a bead store is meeting local beaders, every day introducing us to new artists and projects. Bead Bazaar is participating in Fairhaven’s Summer Solstice Walk About, and we’ve decided to feature Bellingham artist Alice Racer for the event. While we knew that Alice was accomplished at  intricately woven seedbead pieces,  we were pleased to discover that her artistic side was incredibly dynamic. Alice’s beaded baskets are darling, and her jewelry falls perfectly into place with Fairhaven’s old-time roots. Read on for more information and inspiration from one of Bellingham’s artists.

Alice Racer Fairhaven Summer Solstice Walk About 2012 Alice Racer Fairhaven Summer Solstice Walk About 2012 Alice Racer Fairhaven Summer Solstice Walk About 2012

Alice Racer’s artistic interests are multifaceted. A fancier of the Japanese style of poetry Haiku, she illustrates both verses she admires from others as well as those she has penned herself. She is a photographer with her work appearing in several different publications, all with a botanical theme. It is within the last 10 years that she has taken up beading.

Inspired by Native American bead work from the time she was six years old, Alice remembers her family visiting a predominately Cherokee town in Virginia at the time. While there, they bought her a locally made woven seebead necklace. Although she didn’t actually take up bead work until many years later, she was intrigued by its intricacy. Still owning that original necklace, she has appreciated the earthy colors and patterns of traditional bead work ever since.

Alice’s own bead work consists of patterns using peyote, square, and rosette stitches. With Czech and Japanese seedbeads, she creates delicate miniature baskets as well as intricately worked floral necklaces and bracelets. Her work will be featured in the store during Fairhaven’s Summer Solstice Walk About, Friday, June 22nd, 5:00pm-8:00pm. Her baskets are for display only while her necklaces and bracelets are available for purchase.

One of the best parts about working at a bead store is meeting local beaders! Every day introduces us to new artists and projects. After getting to know Bead Bazaar regular Megan Lee, we discovered that she sells her jewelery at multiple Bellingham shops. Megan Lee has a Facebook page featuring her designs, and her earrings can be found at Sojourn, Serendipity, Keiko Keiko, and Labels. We love Megan’s hip style and business savvy, so after receiving some funky new Czech glass (one of her favorite materials!), the Bead Bazaar decided to do a special featuring Megan Lee Designs. We also asked her to make a guest sample for the store! Read on for more information and inspiration from one of Bellingham’s artists.

Q: How long have you been making jewelry?
A: Since I was 5. I still have the very first necklace I made as a little girl; I carry it around in my car. My dad helped me make it. We drilled holes in foreign coins, and hung them with a fishing lure on leather.

Q: How did Megan Lee Designs get started?
A: I have been selling since I was 15. I was one of the original makers of guitar pick earrings, which sold really well and became very popular. I originally sold them at Passionfly, now the Black Market Boutique. It’s one of the first stores I sold jewelry at and it has just progressed since then. News about my jewelry spread a lot through word of mouth. My jewelry used to be sold in 11 different stores in Bellingham.

Q: How did you decide on the name of your jewelry line?
A: I wanted my name in my business. Since I come up with all my own designs, I just thought it would be nice keep it simple. I have a graphic designer who designed the logo on my earring cards. Right now it’s a pair of eyes; their blue color was taken from a picture of my own eyes! I’m planning on changing my logo to something more vintage Western inspired- stay tuned to see the results!

Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Urban chic, but I also try to keep up with current trends. I’ll look at the trends and infuse my own style into them for my designs. Being aware of what’s popular opens you up to new ideas. I’ve grown to like new things this way- I used to avoid gold, but now I love it.

Q. What materials are your favorites to work with?
A. Glass, vintage acrylic, resin, metal and chain. I like to use vintage components from estate sales and antique stores, taking them apart and redesigning with the components. I don’t work with stone as frequently because I like to keep my price points low.

Q: What inspires you?
A:  I have days when I want to really dedicate my time, have a strong inner motivation to make jewelry. Having as many people who like my work as I do is something I never imagined. It’s an inspiration to see pieces I remember making on the people who wear it. Coming to the bead store also inspires me!

Q: Has anyone been an influence to your work?
A: Girl nights! My friends and I will do crafts and drink wine together. We’ll share ideas and designs with each other. My friends’ styles mesh well with mine, so we’ll collaborate on designs.

Q: How do you get out of your creative ruts?
A: I start organizing all my beads (I store beads in stacked muffin pans). Reorganizing reminds me of what I have to work with and inspires me. Or I call a friend or use my own clothing to inspire me to make something.

Q: What other hobbies or activities do you have in your life?
A: I love the outdoors, paddle boarding and biking and swimming in the summer. My other biggest talent is cooking. I love food, whether eating out and cooking. I’m a food connoisseur. I also work 3 jobs, which keeps me pretty busy.

Q: Do you have any hopes or ambitions for ML Designs in the future?
A: I just want to continue what I’m doing. It’s a life-long hobby that’s turned into a small career, and I don’t want to push it, I want it to naturally progress. I’m happy and content with where it’s heading now.

Thank you, Megan, for sharing your creativity with us! Want to see more of her work? Make sure to stop by her Facebook page or one of the many stores that sell her jewelry. We’re so proud of our Bellingham Artists, and want to thank Megan Lee for allowing us to interview her. Happy Beading!

“Beads are like a shoe addiction!”- Megan Lee