This week's Spotlight is on Regina Zarba Cranmer.  Regina is the reason I started the Beader Spotlight.  I noticed her web site at the bottom of her email signature and was intrigued - Beaded Portraits.  What I found at her site were the most beautiful, intricate portraits made of beads!  Oh the time it takes, but mostly, the patience!

Her story is a great read.  For those of you that have been in the beading world for a long time, you will be able to relate to much of what she says.

This is a picture of Regina with her horse, Epic.  Regina is 5 feet tall, Epic is 17.5 hands.  That's very tall for a horse.

regina with her horse epic

I started to bead when I was a little girl and found beads and a loom at the 5 and 10 cent store which is long gone.  Even finding beads way back in the 50's was nearly impossible for a girl living in Maryland at the time. Fast forward a lot of years to about 25 years ago, when I went into a Native American store and found tons of beads and bought some and some Native American bead books as well. I tried to figure out the work shown. It was a miserable beginning, but they had one type of bead in their store that was very expensive and I wanted to know more about it. Back I went and found out it was a Miyuki Delica Bead. I was ravenous to find out more and looked up Bead Stores in the yellow pages and found one in Colorado Springs, CO offering Miyuki Delica Beads. I was so thrilled. I drove there and was amazed at the bounty of beads to choose from and what could be done with them, and the variety of books offered with tons of wonderful items that I could do from my home. And of course, the magazines I never heard of and their unique articles offered in them.

It was Christmas time, and the 3 sisters descended on Phoenix, AZ to our parents house for the Holidays. It was so much fun. My sisters asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said BEADS. I looked up Bead Stores in Phoenix, and found one in Glendale, just a few blocks away. We went there, and hours later, I came home with books, magazines, threads, needles, beads of all kinds and a big smile on my face. I couldn't figure out one thing on my own, so I called the place on Christmas Eve, with them closing at 3pm and begged for a private lesson. The owner agreed and I went and that was the beginning of my history of beading. I still have the first thing I ever did. I laugh now, I used two spools of thread. It was those tiny spools, I don't even know if they have them anymore.

When I got back to Colorado Springs, CO, I stayed in touch with my new found bead store and they had trunk shows and talented bead artists from around this country come to their store to hold classes. Wow, I met some of the best that are still out there today producing lovely work. Their private classes were very expensive, we're talking $200.00 a pop for one person plus the cost of the beads for the project which we had to buy at the time. There were no kits back then.

One of my favorite classes was when Ann Paxton of California came to the bead store with a purse of Joan of Arc. She could do a face that was real, you could just see the agony in Joan of Arc's face. The fringe work alone was $250.00, then the class fee, then the other beads needed for the work up of the purse. What I wanted to know was how did Ann Paxton do that face. Well, she explained she had purchased a bead program, long gone now, and you do this and that, and then up popped a similar version of the end result AFTER you changed practically every bead so it was correctly balanced. It wasn't an easy program and few people back then had a MAC, but I did. I purchased that program in a heart beat, it was later updated for better colors and new beads from Miyuki and then they went out of business. That was okay by me, I had already found the face palette I needed for the hair as well and off I went making beaded portraits of a number of pieces.

beaded purse of joan of arc

Joan of Arc - Pattern by Ann Paxton

I have sold some pieces as well in private art galleries in Manitou Springs, Colorado. I was glad and sad. The commissions were hateful for all the work I did and it took hours and hours to design a face, then bead it and then put the fringe on it. I have since changed quite a bit of what I have done in the past to what I do now. 

beaded Marilyn Monroe

I was in Beadwork magazine in 2001, Month of April-May, find that ancient article and that's me. I was doing portraits way back when and still love the super challenge art that it is. My largest beaded portrait is 52,000 delica beads and then maybe 35,000, then 21,000 and now 5,600 to 8,700 for portraits, if I need to capture a lot of detail.

My one and only truly new design are my lovely and small seahorses which I labored over until I got the results I wanted and then switched around sizes and colors to make all you see.

beaded seahorses

My advice to new beaders is: "Don't ever give up, take lots of classes, subscribe to at least one or two great bead magazines, and lighten up on yourself.  If she doesn't like it, someone else will, and if he thinks you could do better, let him try it.  I buy beads from my local store but for one project I buy off-line. Do off-line comparative shopping as well. Gas may go sky high and racing around to these stores may not give you the bead results you are looking for. Think outside the box and do different stuff. Enjoy your journey, I have."

Regina sells all of her finished products and beaded portraits through her website at:

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