Virginia Blakelock,...

A Revolution in Beadwork....

Virginia Blakelock is considered one of a handful of living artists who have created a revolution in beadwork. Her work has been shown in museums and galleries all over the world, including the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewett Museum of Design.

"... When it comes to name-dropping in beadweaving, few if any names carry more weight in this country than those of Virginia Blakelock and Carol Perrenoud. In fact, many of today's top bead-weavers were present at Virginia's very first loom beading class, given in 1986 at the Oregon School of Arts and Crafts.

"... But, what drives the two artists first and foremost is their beadwork. Virginia and Carol started out designing and making one-of-a-kind wearable and decorative items with seed beads and thread. In fact, it can be said - and has been many times since the mid-1970s - that Virginia single-handedly revolutionized the ages-old medium."

A Couple of BEADCATS by Kari Stone
Jewelery Crafts, July/August 1997

"Driving up the primitive, gravel driveway - actually no more than a track though the blackberry bushes - to Virginia Blakelock's home and studio, emphasizes the contrasts in this artist's life. Her small cabin south of Portland, Oregon is reached by a muddy path through the woods. Her home has the luxury of several computers, but no indoor plumbing. Here Virginia creates beadwork worthy of the most elegant surroundings.

"...Virginia's manipulation of color in her beadwork is one of the things that make them so exciting. She attributes the variety of her color combinations to living in Karachi, Pakistan, as a teenager. 'I'm aware of design traditions that most Americans don't know anything about.'

"Virginia received a B.F.A. from Wright State University in 1973. 'I was going to be a systems analyst, but I got hooked into the art department when I took a sculpture class. I also studied pastels and oils, painting and drawing twelve hours a day.'

"...Virginia approaches her beadwork from the perspective of a painter, calling on her skills in rendering and knowledge of color dynamics to create visual effects. 'I use individual beads the way Seurat used dots of color to create the appearance of subtle color changes.'"

Virginia Blakelock: Tapping the Possibilities of Beads: by Melisse Laing

"Most people have an idea of Virginia working on her pieces in some sort of idealized studio where she is kept by a rich husband to follow her dilettantish pursuits. Nothing could be further from the truth. Virginia probably has less time for her art than any person I've known. She manages because she's just incredibly efficient with her time, and is absolutely driven to produce.

"...Everywhere we go, even today, she takes her beads. She beads in the theater waiting for the movie to start, she beads in airplanes, trains and in restaurants. If we go to visit someone, she takes her beads. If we rent a video, she beads while she watches. She even beads while we're driving across the country.

"...Now, if you get the impression from all this that Virginia is some kind of maniac, you'd be right. However, to meet her, you'd think she was just a pleasant easy going sort of person, with a pretty relaxed approach to the world. Both these views are correct.

"...Virginia has the remarkable ability to make little spots of peace and beauty around her no matter where she goes and no matter how busy she is. She seems to have the ability to lead others to those things around us that are really important in life: galaxies, light and color, insects around us. "

Notes for an exhbition, by Gary Betts
(Virginia's husband) July 1995

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