The Beads

Elizabeth MacDonald - Necklaces-105


By nature and by history, I work as an artist. The day that I fell in love with beads, was the day that a friend gave me a bead from the Ming dynasty. It was then that I knew that I must travel for more beads.

I have found tribal beads in Burma, glass ones in Venice, chunky amethyst in India, lapis in Istanbul, and trade beads from Java, Borneo and Africa. New beads and old, precious stone or earthy clay, these little pieces of art speak to me as I feel their resonance. I am so lucky, like an adventurer who has discovered secret treasures.


As I place my beads one after another, I watch the necklace evolve. When I am designing, the process is the same as if I’m organizing squares of color for my wall art. I love arranging color and texture to see the beads work together. One element feeds another until suddenly, there is a whole.

Everything in the necklace must harmonize. My favorite way of putting the beads together is to have a large collection from which to choose. This allows me to make necklaces that reflect my art making process.

I select each bead, juxtaposing silver against glass or the roughness of stone against the smoothness of jade. When I finish, I know there will never be two necklaces alike.

Wearable Art

Recently a friend returned from Europe, where she wore her necklace daily. She reported that it complemented her outfits and made them come alive.

My arrangements are bold but not overpowering. I hope they reflect my joy of creating. Beads are seductive. Each has its’ own identity and together they speak.