Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hello from the Great White North!

My name is Jennifer VanBenschoten (you can call me Jen!), and I'm the artist behind VanBeads Jewelry and Designs.  I design and create one-of-a-kind pieces of fine beaded jewelry using one-of-a-kind handmade components.  I was so surprised and delighted to be asked to be a part of Love My Art Jewelry because it's such an amazing group of talented artists, and because I love their unique philosophy!

I like to joke that my three-year-old son is actually my full-time job, because he certainly keeps me on my toes.  When my husband and I found out that I was pregnant, the first thing we talked about was whether or not we were going to put him in daycare so that I could keep my job.  We decided that I didn't enjoy my job enough to keep at it, and instead I decided to use the 9 months prior to my son's birth getting myself organized so that I could focus on my jewelry business as a way to bring in income while staying at home.

That first summer was an eye-opener.  I sold my fused glass and lampwork glass jewelry at local farmers' markets and craft shows, and I was thrilled to discover a huge market for beautifully crafted handmade work in my area.  I also found many, many kindred spirits among the other vendors - people who, like me, were looking for a way to promote well-made local goods.
Some of my handmade fused dichroic glass components

To supplement my income in the winter when there are no farmers' markets or craft shows nearby, I started working as the Guide to Beadwork for  My job there allows me to share my knowledge and love of beadwork and beadweaving with readers all over the world - I've had emails from people in Greece, South Africa, Israel, Singapore and Iceland!  It just goes to show that there is a universal interest in the craft of beadwork, and I'm always thrilled to connect with someone who loves it as much as I do.

I recently decided to cut back on my glass lampwork and glass fusing in order to focus on my first love - beadweaving.  I've been weaving with tiny beads ever since I purchased one of those "Indian" bead looms from a craft store back in 1989, when I was just 14 years old.  I fell in love with beadweaving right away.  It seemed like magic to sit down with a pile of beads, some thread and a needle, and then watch as this beautiful piece of jewelry just sort of made itself as I stitched.

I have a background in environmental science and non-profit community development, so the relaxing and meditative aspects of beading were exactly what I needed to decompress after dealing with the frustrations of government regulations for eight hours every day. 

There are some amazingly talented artists out there making the cabochons and pendants that I use in my work.  My three favorites lately are Lisa Peters of Lisa Peters Art, Kristie Roeder of Artisan Clay, and Marsha Hedrick of Amazing Porcelain.  And I'm always happy to "discover" a new artist whose work really speaks to me so that I can turn around and use it to tell another part of the story.
A selection of handmade cabochons by Lisa Peters, patiently waiting their turn to become a piece of finished jewelry

In addition to creating one-of-a-kind works of wearable art, I've also just started working on a series of eBooks called "The Beaded Amulet" that will give clear and detailed instructions on how to use bead embroidery, beaded fringe and other embellishment techniques to create your own personal beaded amulets.

I'm so very excited to be able to share my creative insights and my work with a whole new audience!

And by the way - if you can't find me at home, I'm either out ice fishing, belly dancing or chasing my son around the backyard in all the "deep, deep snow" that we get up here in the Adirondacks!


MaCarroll Beads said...

Welcome Jen! I'm excited to learn more about bead weaving.... I admire anyone that works with such tiny little beads. I've tried a few basic patterns and I'm not sure I have the focus that is needed!

Carol Dean said...

It's so great to see one of my favorite beadweavers as part of this talented group. Congrats, Jen! :D

mairedodd said...

welcome jen! thank you for the intro to yourself and all that you do - so looking forward to getting to know you better!

Barbara Lewis said...

Jen, It's so nice to meet you and to hear how your life in beading evolved. Welcome!

D'Arsie Manzella said...

Pleased to meet you Jen! I can't wait to see what beading insights you will share here~

Patty said...

Welcome, Jen! Wow, ice fishing and belly dancing? You are a woman of many talents. I love your bead work.

SummersStudio said...

Welcome, Jen! It's lovely to have you join LMAJ.

mywifesstudio said...

Welcome Jen!

Anonymous said...

Great to have you here Jen!!!! Ice fishing AND belly dancing? I love it!!!

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