My Jewelry, My Navigator

On October 17, 2017 we were privy to an inspirational pathway into exquisite beaded jewelry created by Anja Schlotman-Bakkenes. Her beaded jewelry was out on the tables. None was for sale, and there were no tutorials from which we could learn how these pieces could be replicated.

She doesn’t sell her pieces. Many are in museums and are gifted to the person for whom they were inspired. When she teaches, she sends a list of what materials will be needed in the class and the bead store puts everything together.

The amazing thing of this presentation was that Anja grew up in a small town 20 minutes away from Huib Petersen who was our speaker in September. They never met until they came to America and started to talk while in a local bead store in San Luis Obispo, California. After seeing her bead work, Huib took her under his wing for 1-1/2 years.

Anja’s presentation was about her journey through 56 years of her life. The city of her birth, Lunteven, is at the very center of the Netherlands. It is a very creative town with 1,257 Coats of Arms for the various families. The founding fathers stressed the importance of good mentors and valuable education throughout the lives of the citizens.

Anja discovered a great bead store called Kandra’s Beads in Solvang, California. There she took a seed beading class with Maggie Meister. In 2006, she started working with Huib Petersen; and her world changed as her bead work expanded. She quickly found that outside California, it is difficult to get students into classrooms to learn her specialty. Most beaders are over 55 years old, as these older generations were taught the importance of “crafts”, where today’s kids are all about electronics and want instant gratification. The only younger crafters are into The Makers Faire. Some of the stores where she has taught are: Kinga’s newest bead and yarn store in Lake Tahoe, Creative Castle in Newbury Park, Beads by Blanche in New Jersey.

It is urgent to develop beading groups again. The friendship and bonding are so important. This is probably why there are so many bead groups on Facebook where you can chat, share your beadwork, and interact with others who share your love of beads and beadwork. Whether in small groups, retreats, seminars or private lessons, the joy of beading needs to be spread around the world. This is also why bead societies are important, where people can join together and learn about the countless aspects of the bead world.

Anja has traveled around the world for inspiration, and showed us marvelously detailed slides from her travels: René Lalique, Granpero Bodino, Wallace Chan, Pierre-Karl Fabergé’, Cartier, and the Art Nouveau movement in general. The museums in Europe hold special note for collections that she has used for the basis of her creations. She has even found that there are unpublicized drawers full of treasures in every museum; and if you ask, sometimes you can be shown these pieces. Anja also showed slides from the Dresden Green Vault, the Hofburg Treasury, the Art of Bulgari, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Different cultures around the world create diverse forms of beadwork where the detail orientation is just as varied. One area where you can really see this variety is in Bridal Jewelry. The use and placement of color is a voice from past experiences. By going into museums, you can see color combinations that have been proven through the years. Look at the paintings and close your eyes. Experience the entire picture, then write down your feelings about what you have just seen in the aspects of the shapes, colors, and the overall design.

Beading is a personal experience and is very therapeutic. There are bead groups all over the world and each encapsulates the culture of those people. Allow your “self” to dream and to live the life you have imagined.

by marilyn peters

From Anja’s blog:
For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to the arts. Thinking back to my childhood I remember that the most wonderful gift I received was from my mother’s best friend. It was a large set of markers. I was mesmerized by all the different colors! As I got older I was fascinated by the bright colors in the flags of the world. It was perhaps, these two things that set the stage for my lifelong interests in creative design, world travel, and diverse cultures.

Born and raised in the Netherlands I grew up with exposure to the museums, exhibitions, and theatres of Europe. I was greatly inspired by the Performing Arts of Music, Theatre, and Dance. From a young age I knew that my passion was to create art with a meaningful message.

In 1983, I met my future-husband, Scott, who was originally from California but studying in the Netherlands. We were married and I immigrated to the United States. While our children were little, I sold arts and crafts at local shows in San Luis Obispo, Ca. In 1998 and 1999 I produced my very own Bavarian Christmas market, inspired by my love for Germany. It was after this experience that I discovered the beautiful art of bead weaving and began working at a local bead store.

In 2007, I started my very fulfilling journey into bead design. I learned that beads can speak to us and that my experiences in crocheting, sewing, and cross-stitching could all come together by using this great medium. Encouraged by my husband, friends, and co-workers at “Naturally Jennifer’s Beads & Gallery”, I was able to pursue my passion for this newly found interest. I also owe a very special thanks to the accomplished San Francisco based bead artist, Huib Petersen, who believed in me from the beginning and helped me make connections in the wonderful world of beading.

It is my desire that the beauty of all those who have touched my life will be present in the works I share with you.

Anja has written two books:
‘Beaded Treasures’ and ‘Beaded Nostalgia’

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