Artist’s Statement

Nancy Cain


1. Skill and facility with the hands.
2. A craft or occupation requiring skilled use of the hands.
3. An object that is crafted by skilled hands

Beading is my handcraft. It is a way of thinking and living. It is a process that is deeply satisfying.

I have always been fascinated with handcrafts, whether it was clay, paper, buttons, fabric or simply found objects. I studied art in college and worked as a graphic artist for 16 years all the while exploring various handcraft techniques.

One day in 1988 or 1989 I was smitten with a beaded watch band. The cost of the watch was prohibitive as I was newly married. Intrigued with these beads, I searched out a local bead store to investigate. The venture into the bead store was the beginning of my journey.

I found my artistic niche in beads. I enjoy delving into beads mentally and physically depending on the circumstances. My favorite stitch is peyote and over the years I have only added two other stitches, netting then herringbone. I like to call these three stitches ‘sister-stitches’ since they transition from one stitch to the other effortlessly.

I feel that the beads alone give me the most inspiration. If you understand the physics (mechanics and technicality) of the stitch, then you can create whatever your heart desires. Knowing what each bead size, shape and finish will do and how they react with each other, plus how the beads respond to thread weight and use then the sky is the limit for designing! Nature is also phenomenal source of inspiration.  I have created beetles, bees, dragonflies and now a sea urchin pendant. The challenge of creating something from life with seed beads is something that keeps me moving forward with my bead creations.

In the early stages of a piece I work almost exclusively in my head. I mentally imagine the beads, working out engineering and design aspects before actually touching the beads. It is quicker than actually beading and I can only do this when I am alone and quiet. The middle of the night is the best!

Teaching is a journey for me as well. Each class is different even with the same project. My focus is heavily about the process a piece takes. In art, the artist explores the process and the product or finished piece is the result of that exploration. For me, the process, whether mentally or physically is thrilling, frustrating, challenging and where the real bead joy is. It is the journey. When I am teaching a class, I get to view the process again through fresh eyes. We can reconstruction it as is or deconstruct it by looking at the process, delving below its surface and learn new lessons from it. The direction and depth of a class can be varied: the more inquisitive the class, the more detailed the ideas of process can get. It is a spontaneous journey we can take together.

I feel incredibly fortunate to do work that I love and have a passion for. Having a studio in my home and keeping a limited travel schedule allows me to keep my priorities on my family.

I enjoy sprinkling a few beads here and there whenever I travel, imagining them as tiny little magical gifts to be shared.

Happy Beading!