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Ugly Beading

Q: I have been a beader for six years. Since I have a five-year-old, a full-time job and a life, I get very few hours to just bead. Yet, with the limits, I have made and sold more than 100 amulet bags in that time, some of them great, some mundane. Some with manufactured-looking Delica's, mundane 11's, not so mundane 14's, even less mundane 15 hex cuts, and wonder of wonders, a masterpiece of my own in 18's. When I arrived in the Creative Arts building at the Minnesota State Fair in August, 1997, and saw that someone had won first prize with a beaded amulet bag in Suzanne Cooper's Loon pattern, I felt angry. Creativity is individual, and surely every kind thing anyone has said about fellow beaders is absolutely true. But for me, winning first prize with someone else's design grated me the wrong way. The bag was well crafted but not necessarily original to my way of thinking.

A: For those here who came up with all sorts of weird theories as to why I'd make a post like `Ugly beading. I have to point out that this is exactly the sort of follow-up I was expecting when I posted. Not a bunch of paranoia about whether I was referring to any one person, not a bunch of ragingly defensive stuff about how all beadwork is great. I figured I wasn't the only one who'd been saddened by either (a) just really ugly beadwork, or (b) formulaic beadwork being passed off as creative works of art. If you had simply said that you didn't appreciate when people use other people's patterns instead of creating their own, nobody would have minded. But you went on and on with a very superior attitude as if you are the only creative person you know. Even if somebody else doesn't have the creativity to make their own patterns, the work is just as detailed and time consuming and the finished product is just as satisfying to the person who made it as yours are to you. When someone at a state fair wins a prize with someone else's pattern, their work is being recognized for what it is, not who drew the design. When you judge the contest, your vote can reflect how you feel. And, if somebody buys a piece like that, they are not thinking "I wonder if they copied this design?" They are thinking they have found a treasure that they love. If you are talented enough to design your own patterns, it really isn't up to you to tell another artist that their art is invalid because you think yours is better.