Patricia Kraemer

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' 2010
Seed Bead Contest
Grand Prize Gold Medal Winner

"It's a dream come true! I've got goose bumps all over."

Beautiful Young Angels (Birds)

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Contest 2013 featuring Seed Beads

Beautiful Young Angels (Birds)

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Contest 2010 featuring Seed Beads
Grand Prize Gold Medal Winner
Category: Necklace

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
We live in the rolling hills of southeast Minnesota, near Zumbro Falls, on a bluff overlooking the Zumbro River. My studio is on the 3rd floor, so I am above the treetops and have a wonderful view of the hills, farmland and river and see many birds.

Describe your artistic style.
In my work, I aspire to a high level of craftsmanship. Often people say how did you do that, which could diminish spontaneity and yet I like to take the time to let the materials guide me. Beads have a strong voice and it takes patience to let that voice come through. My motto is "Let the materials tell you what to do."

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
Content is my first concern, and must be more important than craftsmanship. My works seek a harmonious combination of conflicting materials and ideas often in the form of utilitarian industrial products, blended with elegant and sophisticated jewels; for instance, a delicate and fragile bejeweled hummingbird being tangled in brutal barbed wire. The juxtaposition is challenging, visually startling and energetic.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
As an artist I feel very comfortable in a variety of art forms, however, for the last several years beads have been my choice. They have the power of light, color, texture and shape and are a wonderful time tunnel to other cultures and traditions. Beads have it all: color, form, history, spirit and seduction.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Beautiful Young Angels (Birds)

What inspired this design?
The tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School where on December 14, 2012 a single gunman killed 20 first-graders and six staff members at close range.

How did it come together? For example, did you plan it out or did it define itself once you began working?
At first I just started making the little birds while thinking about the children. I had some small yellow wooden birds from a wind chime, and then as I made more and more, I needed more bird forms, and started making them with a paper clay that dried overnight and worked very well for this project. I wanted the 20 birds to be joyful, youthful and innocent, and decided to use different primary/secondary colors. Some are striped, some plaid, some with flowers, all different from one another, and mostly peyote stitch.

In order to show the scale of the birds, I decided to add a larger protecting bird, so the viewer definitely sees the little birds as baby or young birds and the outstretched wings indicate danger. A single drop of red indicates the larger bird has been shot.

The hands also show scale and protection as they try to gather the little birds together and hold them close. But the main function of the hands is to offer a way to present the baby birds, as well as add the influence of human hands, not just animals.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro Connecticut is addressing gun violence by trying to get military-style guns and high capacity ammunition feeding devices off the streets. As we mourn, we must sound a call for our leaders to stand up and do what is right. Our response must be more than regret, sorrow and condolence. Doing nothing is no longer an option. "These beautiful young angels who had so much to live for ... are gone. As we come together, we wrap our arms around these families and hold them close to our hearts," President Barak Obama. As a teacher myself, I am horrified by the school shootings.

In the past, I have beaded many birds; several doves, some song birds, a parrot, a pair of ducks and a pair of Sandhill Cranes all in correct scale, which is very important to me. Next, while selecting items from the Fire Mountain website, I found the white display hands, which are visually strong. The contrast of the helpless baby birds and the ghostlike hands reads well for human/animal interaction in our fragile environment.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
Handwork has always been part of my life. As a child I spent hours making clothes for my Madame Alexander dolls from socks. I knitted, quilted, embroidered, took up weaving, spinning and felting. I love jewelry and now find that for beading, the tools are simple, just a needle and thread, but I often work with complicated techniques. I became a serious beader in 1994. Beads are so cool, they have it all, color, form, history, spirit and seduction.

Who introduced you to beading?
My first beading attempts were self-taught, and I was a stringer. Soon I discovered my local bead shop and got a lot of support from them. Later I took weeklong workshops with Valerie Hector, David Chatt, Mary Lee Hu, Diane Fitzgerald and many, many workshops at various bead conventions.

Do you have an artistic background?
I have a BA and MA in Art and was a full-time art instructor at Rochester Community and Technical College for 32 years. There I taught Art Appreciation, Design, Drawing, Computer Graphics, Graphic Design, Sculpture and Crafts.

What other hobbies do you have?
My husband says I bead ALL the time, everyday in my studio, in the car, at the cabin, in the boat. My favorite thing is to listen to audio books and bead in my studio. I can listen to two books a week, and that way not miss any beading time. I enjoy cooking, reading cookbooks, bird watching, boating, blues, rock and roll music (my husband plays in a band), Sudoku, my iPhone and computer.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Of course, my friends and family are always asking about what I am making and want to see the latest examples. Since I work whenever I have a spare moment, I often meet people that notice I am beading or wearing some beaded jewelry and it is a great way to make new acquaintances. When I read about a beader whose work I admire, I often will try to contact them and have made some good friends through beads. Facebook has been a great place to meet other bead artists from all over the world.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
Since I am retired now from the work world, I really bead for my pleasure, but I do have a gallery that sells my work. It is a wonderful gallery with terrific jewelry, glass and fiber all made by artists. I also have a website,

How does it feel have won the Gold Grand Prize for the Seed Bead Contest for 2010?
The Gold Grand Prize for Seed Bead Contest is probably one of the largest competitions because every beader uses seed beads, right? So, I am delighted to win with such trusty friends as Delica's and seed beads. Five years ago, I was on sabbatical from teaching for a year with pay, and my goals were written into the project; to establish myself as a bead artist, have work published and enter and win competitions ... sort of a "bucket list" of things to do in five years. Winning the Gold Grand Prize, and looking forward to that back cover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads ad, is a goal achieved. I am thrilled.

What other jewelry-making goals have you set for yourself?
Develop a work schedule for my studio, starting earlier in the day when I feel the best. Utilize some assistance to keep me organized. Hire a professional photographer that has a quick turn around time.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Well, my advice would be to not make "stuff," but try to make a statement. Consider the two questions that craftspeople often face:
  1. How was that made? This means that the viewer is overwhelmed by the craftsmanship, needs to figure it out, or wants technical information.
  2. Why did you do that? What is this about? Pondering the content. In my work, I strive to have both in equal amounts ... the how and the why. And also, be patient, let the beads show you what to do, or what direction to take.
In my work, I strive to have both in equal amounts ... the how and the why. And also, be patient, let the beads show you what to do, or what direction to take.

Also, don't be afraid to contact artists whose work you admire. Facebook offers an opportunity to connect with bead artists worldwide. It is a big world, but still very approachable, especially if you share a love of beads.

View all of Patricia's designs in the Gallery of Designs.