Nancy VanDerPuy

Design Idea A473 Beaded Purse

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2010 featuring Seed Beads

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Describe your artistic style.
I do bead knitting and try to replicate the vintage beaded purses of long ago but I also make my own unique beaded purse designs.

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
Antique beaded purses, nature, the southwest, and my Christian faith.

What materials do you most enjoy working with?
Seed beads

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?

What inspired this design?
An antique beaded purse.

How did it come together? For example, did you plan it out or did it define itself once you began working?
I create a grid from which I string the beads onto my knitting thread. The final grid has to be exact in order for the pattern to form, but I spend a lot of time planning and developing the grid before I start stringing.

Share Your Background

When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
When I worked in a historical museum and saw the beautiful old beaded purses, I discovered they were knit. I'm a knitter and had to find out how to do the old technique. I researched it (there was not much information on it) and kept trying to replicate it. After many attempts, I figured out how it was done. I've now written two books about it, teach it, and demonstrate it.

Who introduced you to beading?
No one--I first saw the antique beaded purses and was inspired enough by them to learn how to do it.

Do you have an artistic background?
No, but I'm a knitter from way back.

How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®?
At a Bead and Button Show booth (Milwaukee, Wisconsin).

What other hobbies do you have?
Other kinds of knitting.

Beading Success

What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Making beaded purses is my full-time job and I teach it, demonstrate it (for senior groups, libraries, church groups, etc). I don't see it as "work", I love it so much that it is relaxing and fun for me.

If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
I do art shows around the country, demonstrations at the shows, and talks at various groups. Many people love the old beaded purses or have one from their grandma, but have no idea how they were made. I do demonstrations to show the technique and show the old and new beaded purses. My website is

Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
I am a breast cancer survivor. I make several designs that celebrate recovery. When I do a demonstration or talk about my work, I usually refer to my survival and the faith that helped me through, and that sustains me now.

Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
Pursue your passion, but if you intend to market your product, try to produce a very unique style or technique.