In this new series of articles I would like to introduce you beaders,
who do not make a living from beadwork but keep it as a hobby in their free time.
Have fun reading!
Erika Fidler is 50 years old, and she lives in a little hamlet called Eaves outside Preston in Lancashire (UK) in an old converted farmhouse by the Lancaster canal. She likes to watch narrow boats chug past her garden as she beads. Her real job is a District Nurse. Although she has a degree in nursing and a Masters Degree in clinical leadership she remains a staff nurse. Promotion would mean moving further away from the patients and less time to spend with her family: Gary (married 22 years), Kate her eldest (27, also a qualified nurse who works as a district nurse as well), Amy her stepdaughter (27) who works in Garys business with him) and Chloe (18, studying A-levels). She was a member of the EGG Crafters Guild till that folded a few years ago, and she loves all sorts of crafts: knitting, sewing and sculpted dolls, too.
When and how did you start to create? How did you learn to bead?
Did you also try other techniques?
In 2012 I made a sculpted doll and decided that I wanted to encrust her dress with beads. I went on the internet to find some to purchase and I discovered the Beadworkers Guild. I emailed them and I was invited to Daventry where their annual convention is held. I attended a class and Silvia the tutor said ‘right ladies we are going to start with a basic peyote stitch.’ I thought – gulp – what’s peyote stitch, raised my hand and asked. She said ‘wow you really are a beginner aren’t you!’ And that’s where it started. I was in awe of the competition work and the bead fair that followed was like an Aladdin’s cave! I bought lots of kits and started to make things. The following year I attended Daventry and put a very simple piece into the beginners category of the challenge. it was a peyote piece that I designed myself – the theme was ‘Under the sea’. It was a seahorse that I marked out myself onto graph paper as I had been shown the year before and to my astonishment and delight I won!
The beginners category had to be beaders that had only been beading up to 3 years. When made my seahorse I had only been beading for about 6 months, but because I won I had to go into the intermediate category (beading 3-5 years) the following year. The theme was ‘Myths and legends’ so I designed a picture of Medusa. Again she was peyote but this time had 36 colours in it – it was flawless but I decided to frame it and make a copper wire tree threaded with beads and fasten it to the frame, with crystal wisteria hanging down so that it looked like Medusa was hiding in a garden – unfortunately the tree wasn’t secure enough and some beads came off (lesson learned – didn’t win that year).
The following year the theme was literature as an intermediate again. I designed a 3D piece, this time to look like a book entitled ‘Charlottes Web’ complete with 3D spider. It won. Also that year (2015) it was the Swarovski Crystal company’s 120 year anniversary and there was a competition. I decided not to go with jewelry as I just wasn’t experienced enough to design my own jewelry at that time so I made an evening bag – the beginners category was beading 1-3 years so I was still eligible by the closing date and I WON! I was ecstatic!
At the time of writing this it is the Daventry convention again next week and I have a piece in the competition again. Although I have only now been beading for 4 years, I have to go into the experienced/professional category. Whilst the piece is amazingly blingy (I used up a lot of my crystal voucher I got from Swarovski as a price on this piece) I know that I’m not technically experienced enough to win this year but I have LOVED making it.
Tell us about the piece of jewelry you are the most proud of!
At present I am very proud of the set that I have designed for the challenge competition. I am also very proud of myself for mastering Melanie de Miguel’s ‘ISABELLA’ necklace. It’s rather complicated and I was determined not to be beaten and now I have made 4 in different colors. I have just been mastering another called St. Olav which consists of sculpted scrolls. It is also very complicated but I finally seem to be getting the mechanism correct!
Where do you like to create? Do you have a designated area in your home where you keep your beads and play with them?
My designated beading area is a ‘tip by the side of the sofa’ (as my husband calls it). I have 3 ‘Beadonit‘ boards that always have projects on. My dining room side board is where I store everything (and usually all over the top of it as well), but I also bead on airplanes, by swimming pools, in hotel lobbies – anywhere that I might get an hours peace 🙂
What is your favorite stitch? Which colors do you like the most? On the other hand, is there any color or color combination you don’t like?
I have done a lot of Peyote work as I love Delica’s, but as I have progressed I love working with size 15 seed beads and charlottes. I love fine detailed work. Melanie De Miguel has her second Hubble Stitch book in the making and she asked me to design a piece for her for the next book. I was flattered that she asked me because despite everything my confidence still isn’t that good and I really struggled with the advanced hubble stitch. I met Mel halfway down the motorway and we spent an afternoon together whilst she painstakingly showed it to me in person!
I use a lot of pinks and purples but I have recently started using a lot of lime green/peridot, too.
Do you follow instructions or do you like to develop your own designs?
I like instructions and I still really feel that I have so much to learn, but I do design my own stuff for the competitions. Most things up to recently have been OK but I rarely wear them and usually scrap them and reuse the beads after a while. I’m in the process of getting a bit better at designing though and adapting patterns.
Who are your favorite designers? Why?
Well – it has to be Melanie De Miguel because her work is so fine! I love the fact that it is all so wearable every day. I also love Laura McCabe’s work. I have a couple of books that are my guilty pleasure but her work has been way beyond me – ALTHOUGH just this week I have taken delivery of one of her kits which I have coveted for a while so watch this space. I also love bead embroidery and love Sherry Serafini’s work. I love Kate MCKinnon / Jean Power’s geometric beadwork books – I love the modern feel to it. And Sabine Lippert does lovely work, too!
Do you have a favorite bead shop? Tell us about it!
I suppose I use the Beadmerchant online a lot, but I try to use ‘ Halfpenneys’ as they are localish to me when I can.
Which is the bead / component in your stash which you treasure the most? Where and how did you get it? Do you already have plans how to use it?
I ADORE Crystals and cabochons and this weekend I was at Haydock Race track bead fair (organised by Halfpenney’s). There was a stall selling some AMAZING big cabochons. They had been a glass maker’s show pieces. He had retired so this chap was selling them and as they were one offs I had to have them, so I bought 5! One is a big oval approx 14 cm long. I am watching a series called ‘Reign’ about Mary Queen of Scots and it inspired me to make it into a long pendant with size 15/0 seed beads and charlottes – its very glam!
Have you ever visited a bead show, a cruise or any other meeting dedicated to beading? If yes, tell us about the experience!
I visited the Beading Festival in Daventry, which has classes as well as a bazaar. I was rather nervous at first going on my own as I didn’t know anyone, but everyone is so friendly and I get to know more people each year. Now that my youngest is 18 I would love to think that I could perhaps do a beading holiday at some point in the future.
Is there a beadwork-related book you would like to recommend to other beaders? Or maybe a clever storage solution or any other trick to make a beader’s life easier?
Again… I have to say that I find Melanie’s instructions very easy to follow and understand!
What are your plans for the future as a beader? Is there something you would really like to learn or an instructor you would like to meet?
To bead and bead and bead and bead forever 🙂 I would love to go to the big American shows and take classes there. A class of Laura McCabe would be a dream come true! Also, I am trying to convince my husband to get me a ‘Sheshed’ for the garden so that I can do it up in pretty colours, have warmth and electricity. I could design all my own storage for all the different beads/crystal/cabs etc. I would like to have my own personal space with ergonomically designed chair and desk so that I don’t get back or shoulder ache.
Thank you very much for answering my questions, Erika.
I wish you a lot of inspiration and beads!