Sunday, March 22, 2009

Introducing TBQ Designs - The Bead Queen

This week we had the opportunity to meet Lisa of TQB Designs based in Portland, OR. Lisa opened shop on Etsy in July, 2006.

Lisa says, "I first became interested in beads when I was 12 years old. My mother gave me a beaded rope necklace that she no longer wanted and I promptly started taking it apart. It has thousands of little beads in all kinds of colors and I found it utterly fascinating!"

"I have been making my beaded beads for over 10 years now. I am self-taught in the art of bead weaving and developed a system to create these textural rounds, ovals, squares, cylinders, and barrel shaped beads."

How did you choose your shop name?
Well actually, I came up with my studio name while in high school. I have always been rather exuberant and thought of myself and something special and came up with The Queen Bead - for my love of beads. Shortly after making my jewelry for re-sale in galleries years later, I realized that his was quite a popular name in all is forms. So, I shortened it up to just the initials (and it makes people chuckle when they realize it's not my initials)...

What is your specialty and what drew you to it?
My specialty is three-dimensional beaded spheres, ovals, squares and cylinders. I use the one of the smallest seed beads and hand weave them around wooded cores.

What inspired the birth of this item?
I love bobby pins and bobby-pin like hair accessories. I was actually holding one up to put in my hair and realized that it would make a fantastic earring or pendant. I immediately went to my studio and worked up a couple of prototypes and developed the Pin Dot Earring along with a new ear wire that I call the "hair pin curl".

Does this item have any personal significance to you?
I love long earrings. I guess because I have large amounts of dark curly hair and unless the earrings are long and/or substantial, there is really no point in my wearing them. Also, they lend a lot of glamour to any outfit!

What is your favorite part of the process of creating your item?
I actually have two favorites, and I think that is appropriate since I consider the weaving to be a totally separate thing from the metal work; it's a different mind-set.

My first favorite part is actually weaving the beads. Now I know that this may sound tedious and it is, yes. But I actually now use it when I want to be calm and meditative after having a stressful or exciting day. It's my sedative.

My second favorite part is design development. I love coming up with new designs and often get side-tracked when up against deadlines for shows or wholesale order, unfortunately. There is something about the thrill of "figuring it out" -- that vision in your head that you've been carrying around for months. When I finally see if in real life I can hardly believe that it came from me.

Please briefly describe a workday in your studio and how you created this item:

So this is my "Spotted Dot Earring" - named after my handmade bead cap. With this one I start by first making the cap.

I hammer out, on my bench block, sterling sheet metal to give it texture with one of my beautiful specialty hammers (I have several that give the metal different textures). I usually do this in large pieces around 6"x 6". It's one of those processes that I don't actually enjoy since I have to wear earplugs and my arm feels like jello afterward.

Anyway, once the metal is hammered I use a series of cutters and punches to get the disc the appropriate size and punch center holes. I use then my dapping block to dome the discs to give them their cap-like shape. The final step is a bath in Liver-of-Sulfur and a ride in the tumbler for a finish and wash before I use them in any jewelry assembly.

The jewelry assembly is really straight-forward. I use a sterling head pin (also oxidized) and stack up one of my beaded rounds, head pin, and real cultured pearl. The bead cap has been "steel-wooled" in order to remove some of the LOS in order to view the "spotted" pattern. ...and fini!

I can have a studio day from anywhere between 2 hours of work to 20 hours of work, depending on deadlines on orders or shows. Much of my time, of course, is weaving beads while sitting with my lap desk covered in tubes of bead colors or standing at my work bench making ear wires.

If this item is part of a special line that you do, has there been an evolution in your process? For example, if we were to compare the first one you made to this one, what differences would there be, if any?
Oh my goodness, yes! If you were to view my work even 5 years ago, there was no way I was this into sterling silver. I was actually all over the place with the components and elements in my jewelry using many different kinds of pearls, gemstones, commercial components and I even had a gold-filled line. Four years ago, when I quit my full-time job as an Administrative Manager at a high-end gallery chain, I realized that I had so many more ideas about my jewelry and my style really started to develop after that.

I actually ran into a woman a few years ago and she was wearing a pair of my earrings from 1997! I couldn't believe the evolution of my work. But, there were no complaints from her - these were earrings she wore almost everyday she said! What's better than that!


Tracey Gurley said...

What a great interview and gorgeous work!!

Anonymous said...

Awesome interview. I love those Pin Dot Earrings!

aprilsoriginals said...

Wow, I love this great feature. Great interview, I just love hearing about other etsy sellers!!

E.B. Spider said...

I love how she came up with the pin dot earrings. How creative!

Emily said...

Great interview; great bead work!

MooreMagnets said...

Wow - Great interview and great shop!!

princessjorja said...

Wonderful interview, gorgeous stuff.

elise said...

Yipee, I just love love love her work. I swear I will own some one day...soon I hope. Excellent interview.