Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Beautiful, Detailed Bead Embroidery by Janet Dann

bead embroidery, owl purse, Janet Dann
I wish you all could see this work in person! It's a testament to the value of those iddy-biddy size 15 and smaller seed beads, and to the detail you can achieve with them. (You can see more detail if you click the pictures to enlarge them!)

The artist here is Janet Dann, a beady friend who used to live on Orcas Island (next "door" to me, as in just a 30 minute ferry boat ride away from San Juan Island where I live). When we met (10 years ago), Janet was making jewelry with beads. But when she saw some of my bead embroidery, she immediately got hooked on stitching.

Now Janet and her husband are retired. They travel the USA in a motor home. While not out exploring, Janet beads. She still makes very beautiful jewelry, but the thing that makes my heart go thumpity-thump is her bead embroidery, especially her beaded bags. Let's put it quite simply... I WANT her to make one for ME!!!!! Also her work inspires me to try beading more realistically. Who knows, you may see some very different work in my 2008 BJP pages.

Technical info: Janet uses inexpensive suede or velvet-like fabric backed by interleaving paper and nymo thread. She designs on paper using library books and the Internet for reference. When she's ready to bead, she taps into her ever-growing stash of the smallest seed beads. Sometimes, as in the bag below, the design grows somewhat improvisationally. In this case she has not yet planned the center of the design.

bead embroidery, flap of purse, in progress, Janet Dann
This will be the flap on an Animal Spirit/Medicine Bag made as a commission piece. She designed each of the animals to be surrounded by things the animal might enjoy in its natural environment.

bead embroidery, grizzly bear design, Janet Dann
The grizzly bear has its delicious berries.

bead embroidery, grey wolf design, Janet Dann
The grey wolf has trees, a full moon and shares mountain lupin with the bear.

bead embroidery, horse design, Janet Dann
The mustang has a pasture of green grass, wildflowers and a tree for shade.

bead embroidery, orca whales, Janet Dann
The orca whales have the aurora borealis in the northern sky.

Janet has taught herself by trial and error how to make the bags (with lining and pockets inside) and to weave the straps using kumihimo.

bead embroidery, celtic boar design, Janet Dann
bead embroidery, hand made purse, celtic boar design, Janet Dann
Here is a purse she made at her Mom's request featuring a traditional Celtic boar design.

bead embroidery, owl design, Janet Dann
Here is a detail picture of the bag shown at the top of this post, made for her Mom.

Janet welcomes commissions and works with her customers to personalize the designs, imbuing them with symbolic meaning, healing stones and spiritual energy. Her rates, in my opinion, are very reasonable. If you want contact information for Janet, lemme know.


  1. Her work is beautiful. I love the tiny beads too but don't use them much so far. She does a LOT with them. Her animals are so expressive and realistic. Wonderful.

    By the way, I am enjoying your new book immensely. Makes me want to do more beading and I am not going to until I catch up with my BJP! But that is beading too so I am happy both ways.

  2. Anonymous1:53 PM

    Those bags are too beautiful! I love the balance between open space and the beadwork. Lovely!

  3. Janet is a very talented lady! Such beautiful work. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. Hello Robin, This is the most beautiful beaded bag I have ever seen. Janet is a very talented lady. Thanks for sharing this gorgeous purse with us. Also thanks for the nice comment on my PC Spring In The North Woods. Much appreciated. Judy

  5. Exquisite workmanship and her works is singing out to me. I would like to contact Janet.

  6. Gorgeous! I love 15's. Haven't tried anything smaller.


  7. I tried leaviing a comment earlier, but the computer gods seemed to think that was a silly desire, so they've relented and are letting generate a few words.

    I love the subject of her designs and since I love 15's also it helped me to reach my decision about doing: Eyes, the windows to the soul, for my BJP 2008 project. So thanks for the unknowing kick in the pants for me with this post and what a talented lady.

  8. Wow! These bags are beautiful and I just love them. 15s and smaller amazing. Janet is wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  9. oh WOW! those are amazing.

    Now I want to see pics of how she stores her beads in the RV! :)

  10. Beautiful! I would love to see these in person!

  11. The bags are great. I especially love the owl picture and celtic bag. It's hard to find such wonderful, intricate, nature-inspired work in bead embroidery ...

  12. Wow! Gorgeous!!I love owl and this is fabulous

  13. Wow! Incredible work.

  14. I left another comment somewhere and am waiting for a response. Would very much like to get in touch w Janet Dann - I believe we connected way back in NYC when we lived on 10th Ave.

  15. To JVD ~ I hope you'll check back and see this... I replied to your earlier email, but the reply was returned as "undeliverable"... perhaps your spam catcher doesn't like me. Would you try again... email me at: robin{at}robinatkins{dot}com and please be sure to add my email address to your address book. I need to check with Janet's mother to see if she was ever living in NYC... I think you may have the wrong JD, but I'd like to ask her Mom.


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!