Celebrating 10 Years of Dana's Bead Crochet Book
We're so excited to announce that Park & Lex Founder and Designer Dana recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the book she co-authored with her mom Berti - Bead Crochet Jewelry: An Inspired Journey Through 27 Designs.
The techniques used for making the jewelry featured in this book date back hundreds of years and were mastered by Dana and her mom over a long period of time while they learned from expert teachers. Every project in the book has at least two versions, one made by Dana and the other by her mom. Even though they often design together, their aesthetics differ. They wanted to show how the same design could look very different depending on the beads or colors chosen. Dana loves this feature of the book.
Though you can certainly choose to learn beadwork from the book, which provides all the inspiration and skills you need to create unique jewelry treasures, nothing can truly replace the intention, wisdom, and love that Dana infuses into her creations.
Continue reading the interview with Dana below to learn more about the passion for bead crochet she's developed over the years as well as how she includes herself in every design choice and step of the process.
What's your history with bead crochet jewelry and how did you learn this technique?
Dana: My mother is a master artisan (knitter, crocheter, needlepointer, etc.). I was always interested in what she was doing, so she started imparting her knowledge to me when I was very little. I soaked it all up like a sponge.
When I was in college at Barnard, she took a course in seed bead weaving at the 92nd Street Y. She suggested I join her for a summer session because she thought I would enjoy it - and she was right! I arranged my entire course schedule over the next three years around Tuesday afternoon beading class. We studied there together for eight years.
At some point during this time, our teacher did a unit on bead crochet. My mom and I became completely obsessed. It combined the two things we’re most passionate about – beadwork and fiber arts – which made it the ultimate technique for us both.
I finished college and then received a Master’s from NYU in 2006 (all while beading on Tuesday afternoons). At that point, I suggested to my mom we start a business. I wasn’t sure exactly what we were going to do, but I knew two things:
- I couldn’t leave “making” for nights and weekends; it had to become my career.
- We had to share our technical expertise with others, while also showing them the meditative, therapeutic and joyful benefits of crafting.
At that time, very few people knew about bead crochet, and many who did claimed they “couldn’t get it.” In a short time, we became known not just for having mastered the technique, but for having mastered teaching the technique.
What inspired you to write this book?
Dana: As our following grew, people wanted more. This was before social media and YouTube tutorials, so it was harder to find "how-tos" and information. There were a couple of books available, but they all required you to know the basics of bead crochet.
We wanted to offer people something new, different, and comprehensive. It was imperative to us that the book be a detailed how-to from beginner basics through advanced troubleshooting--that someone could pick it up with no knowledge of bead crochet and work through it to become an expert.
We also wanted to give them designs they hadn’t seen anywhere else. Most bead crochet is made with tiny seed beads and intricate patterning, which is both impressive and beautiful. But we've projected our own aesthetic onto the technique, making it more modern, chunky, and fashion-forward. Throughout the book we also have anecdotes and tips that we hoped would enlighten and inspire our readers.
Finally, it was equally important to us that the book be beautiful, so someone could pick it up and want to keep it on their coffee table or flip through it for inspiration, even if they never made a single project.
What was the hardest part about the writing/publishing process?
Dana: Truthfully, it was the waiting. It took four years from the day we sat down, and I said to my mom, “I think we should write a book,” to the day we held the first copy in our hands.
First we had to start designing and making the pieces, and then work on the outline. That probably took a year.
We were lucky enough at that point to have someone recommend a wonderful book agent who (fortunately!) loved our idea. She immediately had three publishers in mind, but first we had to write a (60 page!) proposal. That took another year.
We met the craft book editor at St. Martin’s Press, and we all knew it was a perfect fit. Then we had to actually write the book. Another year.
The final steps of the process involved several rounds of editing and revisions, a week-long photo shoot, and printing.
What was the most surprising part of the writing/publishing process?
Dana: How much we genuinely enjoyed every part of the process. Even though it took a long time and required tremendous patience, every step was amazing because of the people involved. We became close with our agent, editor, and photographer. They made any fears or hesitations we had disappear.
What did you learn while writing the book?
Dana: Not to drive the point home again, but to be patient. It’s really easy to give up when things aren’t happening right away. It’s so easy to quit when you’re not seeing immediate results. There were so many times we could have thrown in the towel and said, “Never mind. This is taking too long!” But we just kept working.
What's your favorite design in the book and why?
Dana: My favorite is the Tutti-Frutti Necklace, which is essentially a series of successful experiments. I had these large resin beads that looked like candy from a beautiful little bead shop in Brussels. I wanted to incorporate them into a bead crochet design, so I came up with this crazy idea that I could turn them into charms which could then be crocheted into the necklace. I had NO idea if it was going to work, but it did. So I wondered if I could turn this little object into a pendant. That worked too. Finally, I imagined a big button with a loop as the closure to the necklace. Incredibly that worked also. It’s a departure from my other work, which reminds me to continue taking risks.
Why are you passionate about bead crochet jewelry?
Dana: I’ve been making bead crochet jewelry for two decades and have never gotten bored. The technique is always the same, since there’s only one stitch to know, but as the beads change, so does the look of the jewelry. There are endless combinations of color and design. My hands can’t keep up with all my ideas!
I love wearing bead crochet jewelry also. It feels amazing because it’s dimensional yet flexible. It’s also comfortable to wear, which isn’t always true of chunky jewelry. I love that it’s not delicate, and that one bracelet alone can make a statement without being over-the-top.
If you're the crafty type, you could always read Bead Crochet Jewelry to learn more about the techniques and try your hand at creating a piece of jewelry. But there's nothing quite like buying a handcrafted treasure from an expert, especially when so much love and intention is infused into each piece. To shop all of Dana's creations, visit this page.