Julie Powell is an extraordinary bead artist who has worked with us at Artful Home for several years. Her eye for color and detail creates designs that inspire and delight. I love the way she uses different types of beads to enhance the shape of her work — they are like miniature sculptures. Stones and glass beads catch and diffuse light, and play off the combinations of colors in the intricate woven patterns.
Delphinium Cuff by Julie Powell
It’s incredibly interesting to see the inspiration behind her stunning one-of-a-kind pieces. Sometimes a sculpture, painting, or other work of art. Sometimes a feather or gem straight from nature. Whatever the spark of inspiration, the end results are fabulous.
Julie shares a bit about herself and her jewelry with us:
How did you get started as an artist?
I have always made things with my hands. When I was very little I sewed different colored buttons onto cloth with a needle and thread, and I just continued from there. I have no shame in calling myself a “craftsman” as well as an artist. I have always been inspired and moved by materials, especially textiles- fabrics, yarns, threads, beads. I have never “not” designed and made art with fiber and my hands.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your artistic career?
I was influenced tremendously by my mother, who is an artist. When I was young, she sewed clothing, crocheted, did wild stitcheries, macrame, decoupage, made jewelry with metal and as a fine artist she painted and drew. She was a gifted art teacher and always took me to museums, galleries and exposed me to art of all kinds. I was also inspired by Irene Miller, of The Knitty Noddy in Croton-on-Hudson, NY in the 1970’s. I would take the train for an hour ride along the Hudson river on Saturday mornings and work for a morning using any materials at all in the shop – knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, dyeing. It was a center of creativity and exploration for me.
What do you do when you need inspiration?
I do different things depending on my mood. Sometimes I get away from the process and hike or walk or run or swim to refresh my brain. Traveling is very inspiring for me, but I don’t get a chance to do it quite enough! Other times I look at my collection of books on fine artists, architects and craftsmen- Henri Matisse, Gustav Klimt, Paul Klee, Bonnard, Sean Scully, El Anatsui. I also enjoy Pinterest and am continually inspired by images there and sharing with other people. I also love to go to museums and galleries and am mostly inspired by work that is not in my medium!
Julie Powell cuff inspired by a painting by Sean Scully
Where do you find your best ideas?
I tinker and play in my mind with forms and colors that I have done in the past. I peruse my sketch book, which I keep daily, and take off from there. I look at jewelry and textiles from history and from my contemporaries. I draw, do watercolors and sketch constantly and have done so since I was in High School.
Describe a breakthrough moment.
I feel as though I have break through moments every day. Often I dream about an idea for a piece. I wake up and sketch it, and then try to execute the vision in reality. When I am able to recreate what is in my mind into a 3-D object, I find it very satisfying and fulfilling. Just that process is mind-blowing to me.
What do you love most about being an artist?
I love that I can be surrounded by colors and surfaces- tiny pieces of glass that catch the light, in all shapes and forms. I love the intensity of the scale and the engineering involved in designing and making. I love the excitement of a challenge, but I also love the quiet peacefulness of threading the beads one by one and weaving them in my fingers and through the tension of my hands. I love how any piece grows row by row, stitch by stitch, without knowing how it will emerge. I love that I can make mistakes and rip them out and try again. It is a fluid, meditative process for me. And I love working with color. Making piles of beads, jars of stones and stones and being surrounded by them as I work is heaven.