Monday, June 3, 2013

Interview with Lynn Davy - Nemeton

Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you this interview with Lynn Davy. Lynn is on of the most creatively diverse people I know and everything she makes is delicious! The first of Lynn's work that I ever saw online were her superbly detailed and intricate seed bead designs which incorporate handmade lampwork beads with exquisite seed bead detail.

How did you get started on beadweaving?

When I was nearly 10, one of mum’s magazines had a free plastic bead loom on the front. I was intrigued. It took us ages to find a craft shop selling ‘rocaille beads’ and we could only get four colours – blue, green, orange and white – but I was instantly hooked. Next birthday I got a proper loom, more beads and a book on Native American beadwork that had some patterns for off-loom beadweaving, the stuff you can do with just needle, thread and beads. I started playing with those patterns and never really stopped!

What would you like to do/learn/take up in the future to further your process?

I steered clear of workshops for years because I didn’t want to be influenced by anyone else. However, I took a class with the legendary US bead artist Laura McCabe a few years ago that totally changed my view of workshops and my whole approach to the materials I use. I’d like to do more classes with really top beadweavers to find out how they do what they do, not necessarily so I can do the same myself but so that I can be inspired to think outside the box. I should probably do some metal/wirework classes too: my wirework skills are basic to say the least, and grownup metalworking tools frighten me!

How has your crafting and inspiration evolved over time?

In one way it hasn’t really. I’m basically still that enthralled ten-year-old playing in the bead box. But as my technical skills have improved, I’ve been able to tackle more ambitious ideas, and over time you see fantastic art and landscapes and colours and other people’s work, and all of that feeds back into the creative process.
I’m now at the stage of wanting to make things that aren’t just wearable jewellery but wearable art – pieces with an edge, creations that have ideas behind them as well as just ‘ooo, look at the pretty colours’.

What is your favourite ever piece of work?

Tricky, I love almost all of the beadwork I’ve ever made and find it very hard to
let go of any single piece. If I had to pick one, it would be my ‘Memento Mori’ necklace, a Day of the Dead piece I made for a Beadwork Magazine challenge years ago. I had the idea, I gathered the materials, I sat down and made the whole thing in a gloriously messy, one-off session that had me laughing and cursing by turns. The process of making a piece of beadwork is rarely as much fun as this was!

Where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere. Colours, textures, shapes... they are all around us all the time. I make the family laugh with my ability to go into raptures over a manky bit of brick wall or a dead leaf. I do tend to see everything in terms of beadwork!
I also get a lot of inspiration from the beads themselves, especially handmade lampwork glass where you can have a whole universe of colour going on in one focal bead. I do love to take ‘lampies’ and make something that really brings out their special qualities – I spend a lot of time rootling through my bead stash comparing colours and textures in the search for the perfect match or most striking contrast.

Do you craft for your living or is it more of a hobby/passion/obsession?

I’d like to say I do it for a living – I do run my beading as a business – but so far I’ve had to combine it with other freelance jobs in order to make a decent income. But it’s also a passion and an obsession so it’s wonderful to be able to spend time beading and call it ‘work’. Even though I have to spend far more time photographing, writing, promoting, packing, researching, traipsing to the post office in the rain... It’s totally worth it.

What is your greatest crafting success? And your most spectacular failure?

My greatest success has to be my ‘Warrior Rings’ necklace – I had the mad idea of making chainmaille out of beadwork and the result was gorgeous, albeit very time-consuming. The piece was selected for the 2010 ‘Bead Dreams’ contest, which is THE big beadweaving competition, and was subsequently published in Beadwork Magazine as a project. It’s about to make another appearance in the gallery pages of a forthcoming book by Jane Lock. And it turns heads whenever I wear it!
Spectacular failures... I have those all the time, mostly stuffed into takeaway containers and hidden away in the depths of the Dark Cupboard of Shame in my studio. It’s very hard to pick a ‘winner’ but I did once spend ages making beaded beads with lovely seed beads, drops and triangles and they were ALL hideous and unusable, including a well-thought-out and complicated design that took over an hour to put together and after all that trouble it looks exactly like a turd...

What other crafts do you dabble in/would you like to try?

I dabble in bookbinding, which is ‘instant gratification’ compared with beadweaving and which also appeals to my inner cheapskate. It’s brilliant to be able to knock up a notebook or sketch pad just from the contents of the recycling box and a few hoarded bits and pieces. I have recently started tinkering with my ancient hand-cranked sewing machine and am getting to grips with the ins and outs of thread and fabric. I do a bit of silk painting, it’s very soothing and the colours are beautiful. And I love messing around with paint or collage or preferably both at the same time, trying out ideas and making a wonderful mess into the bargain!

I did a printmaking course ages ago and would love to do another one... one of these days I should overcome my fear of the torch and have a go at lampworking... and I’d like to try some metalwork, another fear to be conquered... oh, and I used to be able to crochet and would love to be able to knit.

Do you listen to music while you create? What is your favourite track?

Not usually, I get distracted too easily and prefer to just burble away to myself. I tend to be thinking as I go along – forward planning is not one of my strengths – and I need to sort-of focus on that rather than on the music. Although sometimes I treat myself to a good blast of Mumford and Sons (but only when the family is out; they’re allergic to banjo breaks!) – ‘White Blank Page’ is just the best song ever...

Who is your favourite artists or designer? 

Bead artist: Laura McCabe. I would love to be able to make beadwork that is as beautifully finished and perfect as hers is, but ‘perfect’ just isn’t my style!
Glass artist: Tania Grey, who was responsible for introducing me to ‘lampies’ and whose creativity is an inspiration. Her beads + my beadwork = a dream combination.
Art-in-general artist: Claude Monet. His eye for colour was incomparable and I love the way his paintings got bigger and bigger even though there was less and less in them as time went on!

When not creating/crafting what is your favourite thing to do? 

Snuggle up on the sofa with the family and watch a good movie or something funny. My family time is a very important part of my day.

Who would you choose to play you in the movie of your life? 

Now that’s a hard one. I don’t think anyone would find it easy to be me; I know I don’t. But maybe somebody like Julie Walters could give it a shot?

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