Erika Sandor, a well-known bead artist with beautiful and colorful designs, which you can find on thestorytellingjeweller.com. In every of her designs you can recognize her touch by a striking use of colors and the use of several different kinds of beads! We have asked her a few questions, to get to know her better. When after reading you still want to know more from her, just ask anything you want in the commments below.
First of all, can you give us a little introduction about yourself? Who are you, where are you from, what is your history and how could we know you?
My name is Erika Sandor. I’m a Hungarian, who was born in Slovakia, lived in the Czech Republic and Romania until I found my new home in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
I’ve always felt a deep need for self-expression. Originally, I wanted to be a writer or a linguist, however, the stress while studying for my final exams at university brought beads into my life, and these little pieces of glass never left since then. It was more than 12 years ago…
In the meanwhile, beading became not only my hobby but my passion, my life, my quest. When I see the happy faces of my students or read their e-mails and posts, I know that designing and teaching beadwork is where I can bring the biggest possible dose of happiness into the world, and this is where I can use my skills and experience in the best possible way.
How do you describe your own style?
If you come to my workshops or choose one of my beading tutorials, this is what you can expect: playfulness with colors and shapes, perfectionism regarding design and technique, and a helpful, positive vibe, both during a real-life workshop and in my online beading community, too. I love to experiment and I find inspiration all around me: visiting a far-away country or a museum in the neighborhood, reading a book, watching a film, meeting a special person can all result in a new necklace, bracelet or earrings.
Beadwork is how I express when I’m happy, but also how I deal with challenges and tough times. It’s always something more than just a collection of components.
What are your current events and challenges now?
In 2020, I have a personal challenge: every month I choose a general ‘theme’ for my beadwork and use a specific type of component in all the new designs.
In February, my theme was ‘something special in my heart’ and all the new jewels contained pearls. The ‘Rembrandt’ necklace, for example, is the beaded replica of a necklace from one of the paintings of Rembrandt van Rijn, depicting a young bride.
In March, my source of inspiration is India, and I focus on showing different ways of using filigree components. You can play with layering them on top of your pieces, use them as a base for beaded motifs, but also as connectors, among else. There are many possibilities that you discover when you decide to dig deep into something.
You described how you moved here to the Netherlands, after living in several countries. Did you see a lot of differences in how the people of different countries approach beading? Or was it the other way around and is it comparable to each other?
What I see all around the world: enthusiasm and the love of beads, eagerness to learn, play and enjoying meeting like-minded people, with the possibility to make new friends. I do see differences, but more on a personal level than nationwide. There are everywhere beaders who like bigger, brighter pieces, and also beaders
who prefer more decent designs. When I create kits, I put together color combinations for different tastes: there’s always at least one for those who like to go bold, one classic elegant and a third one depending on my stash, my mood, and of course, the design itself.
You already told how your creations come about by always letting yourself inspire by your mood, your surroundings and probably also the people you meet constantly. This must give loads of inspiration, but it probably doesn’t go easy every time. How do you cope with difficult challenges? How do you approach these?
You are absolutely right! Experimentation isn’t only about success stories. It also is about lots of trials and errors, uncertainties, cutting apart pieces that are nearly done and starting anew. Many times when you see a seemingly easy design, and you might think that ‘oh, that’s easy, of course, you need to fill in a combination of 15/0 Miyuki, 11/0 Miyuki Delica, 3 mm fire-polished and another 15/0 Miyuki.’ Well, sometimes you know right away. And sometimes until you get to the perfect combination, you’ve already tried another 15 variations 😀
How do I deal with this? I try to give myself enough time to develop a project. When something doesn’t work and my morale is decreasing, then I put it away. Sometimes a 15-minute walk and a cappuccino in my favorite cafe are enough. Sometimes I need more time to pass until I can look at that nasty piece again 😀
And it happens, too, that an unfinished piece moves into one of my UFO (UnFinished Object in bead-lingo) drawers because it gives me too much frustration. I revisit the UFO drawers (I confess, I have two full drawers full of UFOs :D) from time to time, and pull out interesting pieces. Time and the experience I gathered in the meanwhile seem to solve lots of seemingly hopeless situations.
Another advice: ask for a second opinion! I’m sure that your beady friends will be happy to help you out with their thoughts. You might not agree, however, talking about different possibilities and solutions might be enough to kickstart you again.
What a great projects you thought of! First of all a theme every month will keep everybody interested and it gives the possibility to really dive into the chosen subject. So for this year you already have a full schedule, great! What will happen after this? Do you already have ideas about this? Are there still dreams to realize? So what can we expect?
My busy schedule for 2020 seems to loosen up because of the situation we are experiencing due to the coronavirus outbreak. Unfortunately, I already had to cancel some meetings and workshops. While I’ll miss meeting beady friends very much, health and safety are absolute priorities at the moment. I see these trying times as unexpected motivation to move forward with projects I wanted to develop for a long time now.
Earlier this year I started a weekly Facebook LIVE broadcast – #CoffeeTimeWithErika. I talk about the monthly themes and new designs, invite guests, talk about specific techniques, components, etc. Beaders can ask questions in comments and I answer them right away. Together with my sister Ivett, who’s part of the Storytelling Team, we just had a brainstorming session to make a plan about how can we help beaders during isolation at home. We decided to intensify broadcasts like #CoffeeTimeWithErika.
There will be a regular online bead-together with easy projects using beads which most beaders will probably have at home already and we will challenge beaders to join my monthly challenges. We’ll continue writing articles on the blog and I’ll start teaching online soon. I highly recommend beaders to sign up for my newsletter to get all the updates about these.
And because of the Corona situation we had some delay in this interview, as both you and us were so much more busy handling all the new creative people during lock-down. But now the interview is finally here, but of course not before we hear from you what’s new now?
A lot has changed in the world since we talked. The most important thing that came into my life since March is my weekly online beading workshops on Facebook, to make sure that #NoOneHasToBeadAlone. When lockdown started, I started to search for a way how I could help. Since mental health is, for personal reasons, a very important topic for me, I wanted to create a community where we can meet, laugh, bead together, and forget about news, numbers, and limitations.
Every Friday, at the same time, beaders from all around the world gather on my page facebook.com/thestorytellingtutorials to work on the same jewel. The material list is published a couple of days in advance, and there is no need to register, it’s enough to prepare the beads and show up at the designated time. Beaders from different countries and continents join the workshop, all loving this beautiful hobby of ours, all bringing something special to the community.
By now we know each other, we have insider jokes, we know that Cheryl sometimes doesn’t wear trousers when beading, that Kata loves saffron ice cream, Nitti has two beautiful cats, etc. And we laugh about how I pronounce ‘fuchsia’ and ‘Ultra Suede’ 😀 Sometimes there are over 100 of us – everyone can join! It is one of my priorities to continue with these workshops in the future.
Because of the changes in the world the monthly themes got a bit into the background, however, I am preparing for a new one just now: we will create designs in the mood of ‘Boho Chic’ and use all kinds of interesting metal components. I encourage beaders to be positive, playful, daring to experiment. Sometimes our trials work out, sometimes they need a bit more tweaking. The Storytelling Community is a safe place to ask for second-opinion and advice, to learn and grow as a beader.
After months of playing and learning to use filigree components, cupchains, etc. during the summer we had a competition, sponsored by Matubo Beads, bead&Jewellery Magazine and Bead&Button. The jury consisted of Helena Tang-Lim, Katie Dean, Cora Sparidaans, Susan Sassoon and Anna Lindell. All the participants did their best, and many-many beautiful jewels were made. I’m so proud to see all the beauties! You can read about it on my blog. This was a first, but I’m 100% sure that there will be a 2. Storytelling Beading Contest in 2021 🙂
In May I was teaching the basics of bead-embroidery to 15.000+ members of the Facebook group Seed beads and more. All the videos and printable files are collected here. In October, I’ll teach in the group again, this time making sure that everyone can get comfortable with the basics of RAW, CRAW, and PRAW. These stitches can be intimidating at first, but there are so many beautiful designs out there building on these skills, that it’s definitely worth it to give them a go.
Moreover, my page thestorytellingjeweller.com is also in the process of transformation… The changes are going on in the background for now, so I can’t share more, but it’s definitely worth to keep an eye on it 🙂
Erika, thank you so much for the beautiful peek in your life, thoughts, with so much action! We can’t wait to see more of you, as you think of, explore and realise so many things. It was our great honour to have you here. Do visit Erika on the websites she mentioned above, and do join her and be prepared to receive an overload of beading-energy!