My Dance With Beads

“My Dance with Beads” with River Rose

Being asked to do this presentation to BSNC on March 21, 2017, took River down the road through all she has personally accomplished and artistically how she got to where she is now. Her travelogue was amazingly frank, along with a slide presentation of her work from earliest days to the most current.

She discovered seed beads in 1992 when she found a pair of beaded earrings and wanted to make a necklace to match them.  River had always loved small detail work, but when she found beads… something magical happened.  She purchased a little booklet at her local bead store, but struggled with the written direction.  While trying to learn brick stitch, she kept at it until she woke in the middle of the night, finally understanding and with a “visual”of the thread path.  When she purchased her first Bead and Button Magazine, featuring Carol Wilcox-Wells’  beaded amulet bags, it was a turning point as River now saw what she wanted to aspire to with beading.  But again she struggled with the written direction this time asking someone to “show” her basic peyote stitch.  Her early attempts with designing both with brick stitch and peyote stitch were limited because she liked decreasing but did not like the way increasing looked.  But she dealt with this limitation in very inventive ways with her early designs ~ she simply flipped the pieces upside down.

Beaded amulet bags became beaded boxes and those transitioned into beaded vases ~ it still continues. Her early design work was done with paper and pencil graphing each step.

Five years into the beading journey, the whirlwind started; Bead and Button Magazine published her Reversible Amulet Purse, calling it, “Two Faces of Peyote”.  By this time, she had learned multiple stitches and was using brick stitch, peyote stitch, netting, branching, sculptural peyote stitch, right angle weave, (which never became a favorite), embroidery with cabochons, and a stitch she named “flowering”.  She was also teaching her own designs in bead stores throughout the SF Bay Area, Central, and So. Calif.  Talk about “You’ve come a long way baby!”

The excitement continued: in ’98 and ’99, River self-published a newsletter called “The River Flows”.  In ’99, Bead Work Magazine published “My Little Coin Purse”.  In 2000, Bead and Button Magazine published “Memories of My Mother’s Sachet”.  She had gone into her mother’s private drawer and found a very feminine little colorful, round sachet – totally out of character, or so she thought.  Also in 2000 the “Wildflower Purse” was published (which is where she took off with her “flowering” stitch).  In 2000, her beaded headdress (also a major study in “flowering”) was accepted into Bead International 2000 and it toured the country for 6 months.  In 2004, her Herringbone Purse was published in 500 exploded. With herringbone stitch, she felt that

increasing was as workable as decreasing, and the many possibilities opened up! The “sculpting” that is possible with this stitch lead to the many vessels and purses she has made and become famous for.

Then, between 2001 and 2006, she got divorced, moved to Washington, still continued to travel and teach, sold 4 designs to Toho, changed her name and life style, and taught in Wisconsin at the Bead Embellishment Fair twice.  Whew !!

While living in Washington, she began to feel she wanted things to slow down.  From 2006 through 2013, she decided to “drop out” of the traveling and teaching and competing to pursue a quieter lifestyle. She learned to meditate, designed, built and tended gardens around her home in Washington, walked daily through the lush woods of Washington and Oregon gaining insight into the nature that so influences her beadwork today.  She pursued new forms of art, but she never gave up the creative life, never gave up beading.  In 2013, she returned to California, and has been slowly reconnecting to old and new friends through beading… those friends prompted her to get back to publicly teaching.

Because her son now lives in Hawaii and she visits often, a phase of her work has been inspired by the island beauty of flowers, tidal pools, grasses and the floral leis.  This visiting the island so often inspired her to create a beaded lei so her son didn’t have to keep buying them.

Now River has become famous for her herringbone vases and vessels.  During the many years of working with herringbone stitch, she had to develop more than the original technique she learned.  This was accomplished through trial and error, as graphing no longer worked.  Finally, while pulling out some rows she saw it!  While it was upside down in her hands, she saw a new way to increase and decrease, allowing for her design motifs to remain centered.

River Rose lives in Antioch and will soon start teaching in her home.  The classes will be open and on-going ~ come when you want to bead, to play, to discover something new….. Most of her current work is with herringbone stitch, but there is oh so much more to discover with beading!

Contact her at: or friend her on Face Book.


by marilyn peters


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