After a career at the intersection ofnational health policy and communications, Thea (Teddi) Fine—the heart and art behind thea fine, beading design—returned some years ago to her first love: creating jewelry with tiny glass beads, a needle and thread, in a process known as bead weaving. She first learned to work with beads many years ago, taught by her maternal grandmother, Rose, a Renaissance woman who never met a craft she didn’t love. About 40 years later, when beads serendipitously entered her life again, Thea knew where her passion belonged, and her artistic, largely self-taught career as a bead artist began in earnest.
While beading can be exacting and methodical, Thea finds “playing with beads” freeing and artistically satisfying. Each piece of her “wearable bead art” is artist-sewn, one grain-of-sand-size glass bead at a time. Beads of varying color often are paired with crystal, semiprecious stones or found objects to create the optimal palette of hues, textures and finishes to bring a design idea to life. Then, the Zen of bead weaving begins. The beads and other objects are sewn together, using stitches with roots in ancient times and far-away lands. Her inspiration comes from history—both personal and global—from travel, and from flights of fancy and whimsy. Beads may march along in organized lines and geometric forms, or they may wander in a freewheeling, freeform manner. In either case, the end product is a magical melding of color and texture. A tiny “signature” in the form of a single purple bead is hidden in each one-of-a-kind piece….but don’t look for it. Often, it is tucked away inside, hidden, but we know it’s there!
At its core, the work is all about threading a needle and connecting an ancient craft with a contemporary art form. For Thea, it’s also a connection of the heart across the generations.