Weaving a Passion
Published: December 13, 2012
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Twenty years ago, Joanne Hemmings saw something shimmer. That shimmer, turned into a spark and that spark turned into the flames of a passion that continues to this day.
"I saw a woman wearing a bracelet that was stunning," Hemmings recalled. "It was obviously made of many tiny beads with various colors and finishes that made it shimmer in the light. I complimented her on it and she informed me that she had made it herself, loomed on an Indian bead loom similar to one many of us had played with as kids."
Hemmings asked the woman how to obtain a similar loom so she could start weaving similar bracelets. When her loom arrived, she felt that she had possibly taken on more than what she had anticipated so she visited a local craft store for advice.
"They didn't do looming and didn't know anyone who did," she said. "We made a deal that if I learned it and taught them, they in turn would teach me a similar-looking stitch that was called 'peyote' that was not done on a loom."
It took Hemmings three months and roughly three thousand beads to weave her first bracelet. Now, Hemmings sells her designs exclusively at Cloe and Company, 410 S. State St., where she will be present as the December featured artist of the month for the Clarks Summit Second Friday Art Walk.
Hemmings explained why she believes it is often difficult to find examples of woven beading in today's culture.
"Looming and peyote are thousands of years old, but they are becoming a lost art," Hemmings said. "I believe it is because of the time involved and because of our quest for instant gratification. There are still some "masters" to whom I turn for inspiration, particularly in color. A small bracelet can have thirty or more colors of beads with different finishes."
Besides woven beading, Hemmings also enjoys creating and designing costume jewelry, especially necklaces, watches and earrings, from gemstones, glass and assorted media. She readily admits, however, that weaving is her passion.
"I like the detail," she said. "I like the challenge of the more intricate designs. Many of my designs are worked from graphs designed by me or bought from other designers. I love watching the design grow as I work and the satisfaction of the completed piece."