Inspired by the natural world, Karen's work focuses on abstract, organic design with an emphasis in storytelling and color.  She considers each new piece a journey of exploration, and enjoys sharing her tips and techniques for freeform design.  Karen jokes that she first fell in love with freeform bead weaving because she is completely unable to stitch and count at the same time.

Karen has self-published three books, including her most recent book Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading: Designing Original Art Jewelry and Beyond.  Explorations includes the works of nearly two dozen artists from around the world, including in-depth looks at the works of seven featured artists.

April: Denise Hollar-HambrooK

Denise Hollar-Hambrook is a self-taught artist and sculptor from Washington with 25 years of experience. She has participated in numerous Western & Native American Art Shows and Art Auctions generating international sales and awards. Denise uses a wide range of media as she creates one-of-a kind sculptures, oil paintings, hand painted Elk and Buffalo rawhide drums, cedar-carved reliefs, and beadwork in the style of the Plains Indian...all geared toward avid Art Collectors who demand authenticity. Her specialty includes hand-painted Buffalo robes and Buffalo Skulls with authentic Sioux designs. One-of-a-kind sculptures with leather ceremonial regalia with miniature beadwork  is created using rare size 16, 18, and 24 Italian and Czechoslovakian miniature glass seed beads. Denise has an intensely-driven curiosity and eager desire as an artist to experiment with all phases of art. She continues to expand her knowledge and gain expertise in the work she creates, never limiting herself to one style or medium. Her preference for extreme fine intricate detail and realism, can be seen in each piece of art she creates. Original one-of-a-kind art work that has been created by Denise is displayed in private art collections from the Pacific Northwest to the Southwest. Denise donated a sculpture of Sacagewea to The SWIFT Art Auction which made grant money available to benefit the community and local businesses. The piece was purchased by the Cowlitz Indian Tribe 500 Million Casino project for $4000.00 and will be on display upon its opening.


Scandinavian Beads and Beadwork explores the folk dress of Scandinavia and the use of beadwork on costumes from Norway, Sweden, Greenland, and Denmark. She’ll begin with a look at beads found in Scandinavian archaeological sites from Bronze Age, Roman Empire, and Viking eras and how those beads were made. Fascinating Viking burial practices will be explored. Various forms of Scandinavian folkwear will be shown with how the beadwork relates to Scandinavian cultural practices and will describe how several of the techniques are worked. “Scandinavian Beads and Beadwork” was originally given before the Sons of Norway Grieg Lodge in February 2016 during its annual High Coffee event and has been expanded for the Portland Bead Society.

Alice Scherer is the Founder of the Center for the Study of Beadwork, established in 1989 in Portland, Oregon and is currently the Secretary/Treasurer for the Society of Bead Researchers. She last spoke before the Portland Bead Society in 2015, on the research she’s been doing into 19th century woven beadwork traditions of Northwest Indians. After the talk, she’ll offer for sale several publications from the Society of Bead Researchers’ back list that illustrate beads of the period in her talk and offer people the opportunity to join the Society.

February: Virginia Blakelock

Bragging Rights - 

Virginia Blakelock’s career in beads has been one of firsts.  Her beadwork was first published in Threads magazine in 1988, generating the most reader letters of any article in that magazine’s history.  Her book “Those Bad Bad Beads” was the first modern treatise on beadweaving techniques not from a Native American or craft point of view.  In that book she was the first to describe flat Ndebele Herringbone stitch and quadruple helix.  In 1991 she was the first American to contact private Czech pressed glass bead makers and contract with them to produce beads for the American bead market.  You have her to thank for the renaissance in that area!  Remember Tiny Tim drops?  Dagger pendants?  Leaves and Flowers?  Her company, Beadcats, first brought them to market in the 90s.

Blakelock and her business partner, Carol Perrenoud, were the first bead teachers at Penland School, and taught at Surface Design, Convergence, and for embroidery and quilt guilds across the country, touring in a 1975 Cadillac 6-door black limousine.  As Carol put it: “There weren’t bead stores in those days, so we had to bring our bead store with us.  Do you have any idea how much all those beads weigh? The limo was the only comfortable vehicle that was rated for that sort of load.  Virginia’s husband bought it for a song, and it was of an era that Virginia could fix it if we broke down on the road”.

Many of the luminaries in the bead world today were Virginia’s and Carol’s students: Diane Fitzgerald and Carol Wilcox Wells to name but two.  In those days, techniques were taught.  However, times have changed, and Blakelock has turned her unique design sense to projects that can be turned into kits and taught.  As she puts it: “Developing the design and then creating the directions let both sides of my brain have fun.  It’s a complete and very rewarding process”.  She and Carol have taught at every Bead & Button show since it originated as Embellishments in Texas more than 15 years ago, and they were the first to teach the Master Class, in 2000.

January: David Vance Horste

DVHDESIGNS Lapidary Arts:  Four Decades in Geological Time

“You want to know the difference between a master and a beginner? The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”  ~UNKNOWN

 Learning to cut and polish stones takes patience.  Getting good at it takes a years.  Discovering oneself as a lapidary artist takes decades.  In this presentation David V. Horste will take us on a visual and storytelling journey through his 40 years of making jewelry and being a full-time lapidary.  David still has an extensive representative collection of pieces he's made over the decades along with archival images of highlights throughout his career.  From his earliest creations in the mid 1970's through his years as a silversmith in Michigan, and into his current creations, David's presentation will showcase the evolution of his work from boyhood hobby into his current life as an internationally recognized lapidary artist.  Entertaining tales of how he came to be a "muse" to jewelry and bead artists around the world are guaranteed!

David V. Horste of DVHdesigns is a custom lapidary source for designer focal beads and cabochons.  He works in semiprecious stone and organic gems (jet, fossil ivory, shell, bone, etc.),along with up-cycled materials such as bowling ball, fordite, and scrap glass and pottery.  David started cutting stones in 1976 at age 10.  He has been a full time lapidary artist since 1992 with a specialty in larger, one of a kind, centerpiece and focal beads, along with unique, free-form cabochons.  You can see more of his work and find his online shops through his website, www.dvhdesigns.com