“It’s a privilege to hold something that was once a living being,” says Golden bead artist Linda Grey. Grey “surrounds” an antler that was found and shed naturally, with her small seed beads, creating intricate patterns and designs unique to her craft. Each bead is sewn individually using what’s called a ‘peyote stitch’ building a sleeve that grows around the antler. This may take a month to create.
Grey, born to Hungarian immigrant parents, says her family’s background influences the way she views life and her art. “My brother and I were taught to value our democracy and freedom,” says Grey. “They (her parents) lost most of their family so I think I have a poignant sense of life and an intense feeling toward nature.”
Photo of Linda Grey in her studio
“I derive most of my inspiration from nature,” says Grey. “Antlers are interesting because it’s like holding something that was once alive. I’m surrounding it with my personality and my take on it.”
Grey works with fabric, embroidery and quilting but is primarily a bead artist. Bead artistry “is an act of love, it’s very meditative, it grounds me and it’s fun. For me, beading is not an act of patience,” says Grey. “Working with fabric is more challenging because if you make a mistake, you ruin the fabric. But with beads if you make a mistake, you just pull out the thread and start over.”
Grey studied biology in college and graduate school, then taught in middle-school for 28 years. She retired in 2003 then, began her second career as an artist in 2006. She and her husband, Terry, travel, hike and spend time in their yurt Crawford, CO. “Terry and I have been fortunate to travel all over the world and climb mountains. I absorb what I see and that ends up coming out in my art.”
Walk around Grey’s house and you see not only beaded antlers but beaded window valances, beaded ornaments, beaded tea pots and bracelets. “I can cover almost anything with beads. I’ve covered gourds, ice axes, climbing screws, crampons and metal lizards.”
Today, Grey works primarily through commissions. She never seems to sit still. “My fingers get itchy. I have to make stuff. I’m a maker.”