I’ve featured some masks before but few as dramatic as these colorful creations by Wendy Seaward of Knoxville, Tennessee.
Seaward describes her approach to bead weaving as sculptural. She “creates freeform shapes and textures out of tangles of glass seed beads and threads” and will often weave them together with semiprecious stones, pearls, fossils, and found objects.
Here’s my favorite part of Seaward’s story. While living in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer, she came to love the beadwork of the local tribes (Ndbele, Swazi, Zulu, Xhosa and Basotho). So, the masks you see here are inspired by the beadwork that Seward experienced first hand in Africa.
In an interview on the Artodidact Project, Seaward said that she is a self-taught beader, trying it out as a hobby that turned into a full-time pursuit. She takes pride in experimenting with new forms using hand stitching. No looms for Seaward — she sews each bead on one-at-a-time, all by hand!
I love the feathers and colors in the mask, above, and the expressiveness in the woman’s face below. Not only does Seaward have a way with working with beads, but she’s a great artist, too.
Here’s a nice shot of Seaward taken at one of the many craft shows where she exhibits her work. She’s playfully posing behind one of her handmade bead necklaces. Now that’s what I call wearable art!
Isn’t this wonderful work? To see more of Seward’s beaded creations, go to Wendy Seaward’s page.