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Inspired by Antiquity: Bead Artist Maggie Meister, March 8 and 9 at Your Design Ltd. PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Wednesday, 27 February 2008 02:27

beading by Maggie Meister Bead artist Maggie Meister found her voice in Italy.

She began beading 15 years ago and started teaching beading in 1996.

"Before I went to Italy, I was doing very basic jewelry design," said Meister, who will be teaching how to make two of her jewelry pieces at Your Design Ltd. in Bettendorf on March 8 and 9. "I didn't really feel like I had any kind of voice. I knew I wanted to do something, but it wasn't until I moved to Italy that things start to click into place."

That was in 1998. There she visited the Naples National Archaeological Museum, which was showing mosaics from Pompeii. Somebody told her, "Oh, they look like those little beads you use," she recalled in a phone interview last week. So she tried "interpreting what I saw in mosaic pieces in my work."

She also saw antique gold-granulation jewelry, and it looked like it was made of small beads, so she attempted to re-create it.

beading by Maggie Meister "It was like a little breakthrough for me," she said. "It was a little gift." That jewelry helped her see the translation process from the antique patterns she liked to her beadwork.

"I'm very much attracted to antiquity - ancient jewelry, ancient mosaics," she said. "So when I see something that I like - museums tend to frown on you stealing it - I interpret it as a kind of memory for me."

In the time since then, she said, she's moved from literal re-creations to her own take on her sources. "I don't need to have that piece look exactly like the piece that inspired it," she said. "I've learned to kind of let go a little bit" and play with the designs and colors.

"It is my voice," she said of her work. "What I'm doing is creating memories of what I've seen and what I've experienced. ... I'm a frustrated archaeologist."

Meister said she typically develops two new workshops a year, and works on four or five new pieces over the course of any given six or seven months. "I teach the actual piece to people," she said. "But what I encourage them to do is to make it their own."

Her pieces are built modularly, and she instructs people who take her classes on different ways they might combine the component parts.

Hercules Knot by Maggie Meister She said it typically takes 30 to 40 hours for her to fabricate a piece. One of the items she's teaching at Your Design, the Hercules Knot, takes approximately 10 hours to make.

She noted that many people say to her, "This isn't as hard as it looks," and she emphasized that the value of beading is "really about the design; it's not about the difficulty in getting there."

And while she said doesn't consider beading a "fine art," "it's maybe a fine craft. ... In terms of personal expression, for me it would be an art. Is it an uncommon skill? No.

"Any time it becomes a personal expression, it becomes kind of an art."


beading by Maggie MeisterMaggie Meister will be presenting two bead workshops at Your Design Ltd. (2340 Cumberland Square Drive in Bettendorf) on March 8 (Hercules Knot) and March 9 (Solomon's Knot). Classes are limited to 20 participants and cost $125. For more information, call (563) 355-1519 or visit (

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