Artist Statements

Skylar -

Hi, all.  My name is Skylar Bre’z and I’m a bead addict.  In fact, I have so many beads that I no longer have a living room.  The beads have taken over every available space.  I have also developed a love of fiber.  Felt and trim can be used in so many different ways.  And the colors!  Oh, my.

I’m also a graduate student, working on an PhD in History.  My History research focuses on women and gender, looking primarily at how women create communities for activism purposes.  I have an MA in Gender & Women’s Studies (Ohio State - Go Buckeyes!) and an MA in History (Western Michigan University).  Beading is a nice break from all of the academic stuff I have to do.  Currently, I teach courses in Gender & Women’s Studies at WMU and Olivet College.  I love my students (but I dislike grading).

If I can teach Gender & Women’s Studies, write, and do artwork for the rest of my life, I’ll be very happy.  (Although these aren't my only goals!)

How long have you been beading?
 I’ve been beading over 20 years.  I started out by doing ceramics.  When I wanted beads to use for embellishment, one thing led to another.  I’ve always been a rockhound, so beading with gemstones remains a big attraction.  (I’ve never met a rock shop that I didn’t love.)

I taught myself how to do bead embroidery.  I had done embroidery with my Grandma as a girl and loved making up my own designs.  A friend gave me a box of broken rhinestone pieces.  With these, I made my first collage collar piece.  (I think Ronnie still has this, all done up in its pink sparkly splendor.)  I loved the flexibility of the medium - how portable it was, how reasonably priced the beads were.  Granted, there wasn't nearly the selection then that there is NOW!

I also had early support for the jewelry I made.  Friends in Las Vegas loved the designs and wore them often during rituals.  When Katlyn of
Mermade Magickal Arts called me an "artist," I began to believe.  Then I met Sally, the BeadLady, at a festival, and through her joyous reaction, I was inspired to try new things, play with new materials.  I doubt I would have continued beading for so long without Sally's early and sustained support!

Or Ronnie, with her "wall o' BrisingBeads."  :)

You have to have people that believe in you! 
I’ve been really lucky to have jewelry go to many different spaces and places all over the world - from the Las Vegas stage to NYC hospital boards rooms to Hollywood celebrities to extraordinary women all over the globe.
When did you first try bead embroidery as a technique?
Twenty years ago.  I made hundreds (groan) of pairs of beaded bell ankle bracelets for a shop in Vegas before a friend handed me an early Jamie Cloud Eakin book and said, “Try this!”  Immediately, I was hooked.  It gave me a way to play with rocks, as well as beads.

Why do you like bead embroidery?
 I love the creative opportunity of bead embroidery.  I am continually amazed at what can be done with a needle, some thread, a bit of backing and ultra suede and some beads!  I get bored very easily, but with bead embroidery, I can always create something different.

The embroidery also reminds me of my grandmothers, who both did handwork – knitting, crocheting, some thread embroidery.  Even though they have both been gone for many years, I feel close to them when I’m being creative.

What are your inspirations and influences?
 I’m inspired by nature – gardens in particular.  I’m inspired by paintings and other artwork.  I love quotes and I’m working on putting more of these in my work.  Myths and music also inspire me, as they create worlds of beauty that challenge the mundane experiences of life.

I’m also inspired by women.  I love when a woman puts on a gorgeous piece of jewelry and it completely changes how she views herself.  For me, this is accessing the Goddess within.  This is a major influence in my work.  With teaching Women’s Studies, maybe I’m hyper aware of the struggles and negative messages that women receive.  So, I’m always working to circumvent that in some way.  Jewelry does this very effectively.

What are your favorite materials?
 I don’t think I could live without seed beads.  Or rocks.  Rocks!  Or focal pieces, or lampwork.  Sigh.  And, I'm loving all my new roving.  And the embroidered bits of fabric and lace that I've been collecting for years.  Do I have to pick a favorite?

What defines your style?
 My style?  I’m pretty eclectic.  I blame it on being a Gemini – I can’t be held to one experience of something.  I work for a bit with an Art Deco feel, then switch to Southwestern, then go very bohemian.  I love to do collage pieces!  Taking bits and pieces and making them work together. 

My style is most influenced by the shape, texture, and patterns of different mediums.  So many beads, so little time.

What are your future goals with art?
Currently, I’m obsessed with making art quilts.  I don’t have any started yet.  I’m in the “hunting and gathering” phase.  But, oh, such gorgeous materials.  I'm also working on a new line of nuno scarves using old sari fabric.

Usually, I have so many ideas for embroidery that there’s no time to practice other forms of beadwork.  But I’d like to add new stitches to my embroidery.  More texture and patterns.  Different materials.

I'd also like to develop some workshops that blend women's history and art together.  I think workshops like this could be very empowering for women.  I'd like to focus on body images issues.  So often, I have women come to my jewelry booth during a show and they have trouble acknowledging their beauty.  Or even allowing themselves a moment to feel beautiful.  This needs to change.

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