If you love tassels and are a member of our Beaded Jewelry Facebook group, you are sure to recognize the work of April's Spotlight Designer, Jenny Kyrlach. She's shared her gloriously linked tassels in our group since its beginning! Her tassels have been one of my favorite parts of the Pretty Palettes reveal for years! Read on to learn more about Jenny, her passion for beading, and what inspires her.
Those of us who met her in the Instagram world know her as @anafiassa on Instagram, and we've admired the wonder and whimsy she creates there with beads and wire!
When did you first start beading, and what drew you to beading in the first place?
I have been making jewelry for as long as I can remember. In fact, my memories are filled with beads. I remember going to a specialty bead store when I was a little girl, reverently looking at the strands of gemstones and colorful glass. I remember getting an Egyptian jewelry kit in Middle School and making the most complicated design in the instruction book (which I still have--both the necklace, and the instruction book). I remember making my jewelry for my 8th grade graduation, and for both Junior and Senior Prom in High School. Beads have always been there; I have always enjoyed their colors and textures and possibilities. And, for as long as I can remember, I have loved taking those beads--those diverse and precious beads--to make beautiful things.
What is your favorite project that you’ve finished recently, and why is it your favorite?
My favorite project that I’ve finished recently is a wire-woven pendant, and the necklace that I made to accompany it. I have always been incredibly amazed by wire-weaving. And, since I like challenges, I have been enjoying teaching myself how to do it. With a five-wire weave, and a design that I made up as I went, I am extremely pleased with how this piece turned out. (See image to the left.)
Even the back came out well! It is exciting to see the positive results of lots of practice and lots of patience--and that is why this piece is my current favorite. (See image below.)
Do you have a jewelry business? Where can we find you online?
I sell jewelry on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/anafiassa.
I started my store back in 2008, primarily to sell beaded hairsticks. I had ridiculously long hair at the time, and enjoyed making hairsticks to help keep it tame. I made so many hairsticks, however, that I decided to sell them--and I did so, quite successfully, for several years. During that time, I also worked on honing my more traditional jewelry-making skills, selling the occasional necklace or earring pair.
Eventually, I realized that I was enjoying making jewelry more than hairsticks, so I decided to switch my store focus accordingly. I love what I do--I love making the pieces, I love taking the pictures, and I love writing the whimsical stories to go with each piece. Ever since the inception of my store, I have connected my pieces to the fictional world of a novel that I’m writing--the stories add a little extra touch of whimsy, and make everything I sell feel special and unique.
What are your favorite beading techniques and materials?
My go-to technique is wire-wrapping and making beaded chains. However, I also really enjoy a myriad of other techniques: knotting, stringing, making chainmaille, and wire-weaving (as previously mentioned). In fact, the only thing that I don’t really enjoy is using elaborate seed bead stitches--and that’s only because I have depth perception issues that make some stitches very difficult.
As far as materials go, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise: I really like using everything. In fact, I even enjoy making beads out of different materials (rose petals and paper are my current favorites). I love combining different materials that one might not expect to go together--Swarovski crystal and vintage acrylic, glass and artisan-made ceramic, gemstones and paper, wood and pearl. I find the different textures and finishes and weights to be compelling, and an important part of design.
What techniques would you like to learn?
Everything! I realize that’s not actually possible, but I wish it was. I absolutely love learning, and there are so many amazing things to master--from soldering to beadweaving, macrame to chainmaille. If I had unlimited time and money, I would love to learn them all.
Since I am only a mere mortal, however, my current aspirations are a bit more realistic: perfecting my paper beads (trying different shapes, not just bicones), making beads and pendants with polymer clay, making my own chain, and finally mastering dragonscale chainmaille. And maybe signing up for a soldering class at my local art workshop. (That’s not really narrowing it down, is it?)
What are some of your favorite beads or components on the Halcraft Collection website?
I love the variety that Halcraft offers. Since I really do like a bit of everything, it’s exciting to have such a vast selection to choose from. My current favorites are the gemstones and the Czech glass collection… being able to get multiple sizes of the same color and finish of both of those materials is really useful when I’m coming up with new designs.
I should also add that I’ve been enjoying the naturals section. The array of different wood and bone beads is intriguing to me, and I see lots of exciting new possibilities.
Where do you get your beading inspiration? What most inspires you?
It is not exaggeration to say that I get inspiration from everywhere. (Are you sensing a theme?) My degree is in Anthropology and Humanities, so I definitely draw inspiration from those fields: other cultures, archaeological finds, linguistics and alphabets, mythology and folklore, literature, art, and music. However, I also love biology and the natural world--the structure of leaves, the symmetry of fossils. I am fascinated with computing and the world of 1s and 0s, the abstraction of math and fractals. I love vintage lace, sunshine on mountains, the smell of the sea, fantasy and dragons and what-ifs. I love collecting strange esoteric facts. When it comes down to it, the world is full of amazing, awesome, fascinating things--and I am inspired by it all.
If you had room for only two tools in your bead kit, what would they be?
This is a hard one. I suppose the absolute essentials would be a good pair of round nose pliers and some flush cutters. I couldn’t make all of my wire-wrapped loops without them!
What jewelry trends are you excited to incorporate into your beadwork?
I am so incredibly excited that tassels are “in” right now! I have been making them for years, because I love them--I enjoy their movement and weight, and how they can add an extra point of interest to any design. Since they’re popular, though, I can make as many tassels I want… I don’t have to choose between making what I enjoy, and making what everyone wants me to make
I am in my mid-30s and live in Cincinnati, Ohio.
I’m married to the man of my dreams (we were penpals back in grade school!), who reminds me to use my left brain every once in a while when he teaches me about computer science and functional programming.
I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland--the daughter of an actuary and a librarian. My parents instilled in me a vast love of learning and creating. Sitting down with my mother and crafting is still one of my favorite things in the world. (And so is watching college lectures with my Dad, because we’re nerds.)
I enjoy knitting and sewing and making paper crafts. I finally own a glue gun, much to my husband’s mock dismay. (He dreads the day that I become more interested in Pinterest.)
In addition to beads, my other favorite medium is words. I am a writer working on several fantasy novels--some of which I connect to my jewelry.
Oh, and I also create languages for fun.
Are you interested in being in our Designer Spotlight?
Join our Beaded Jewelry Facebook group today and tag us in your projects on Instagram with @halcraftcollectionbeads, #prettypalettes, #beadgallery!
We choose a new designer to spotlight each month
and would love to celebrate you!
Molly Schaller loves beading, knitting, gardening, bookbinding, and being with her family and pets. She’s always on the lookout for new ways to express her creativity and help others learn ways to tap into their creativity as well!