The Making of ''Alice in Wonderland'': A Beaded Storyline
Design Idea C202 Wall Hanging
by Jessica, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

Art has a way of emotionally connecting people. It can bring like-minded individuals together from all across the globe, lead to incredible friendships and, in this case, one amazing collaboration of beaded artwork ...

At the 2010 Bead Social, an annual live and silent auction held during the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an elaborate beaded collage titled Alice in Wonderland was up for auction. This three-by-two-foot framed collage went up for auction after being displayed all week long in the show's main foyer. Nancy of Michigan took part in an exciting bidding process and won this masterpiece! Later, Nancy felt that this sentimental work of art needed to be shared with the beading community. It found its way to Fire Mountain Gems and Beads where it hangs on display for hundreds to see every day. "I'm glad it will be seen by more people," says Nancy.

The Alice in Wonderland project began in 2009 and is the result of 42 Russian bead artists joining together online to create "something big and beautiful." United on the website, these artists once lived in the Soviet Union and now live all around the world. They use this website to share ideas and stay close to their roots. While discussing the Bead and Button Show in one of the conversations, they decided they should combine their talents and donate a spectacular piece to the Bead Social's auction to make their mark in the beading world. The next step was to determine a theme and divvy up the work.

The theme "Alice in Wonderland" was chosen because Lewis Carroll's original book, "Adventures in Wonderland" is universally known in both story and imagery. This story creates a nostalgic feeling that people across the globe can relate to, making it easy to divide amongst the bead artists. The artists were assigned individual components at a variety of scales--Alice, The Dodo, The Cheshire Cat and flowers, just to name a few. It was also a timely theme given the release of Tim Burton's blockbuster film starring Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska and Helena Bonham Carter that same year.

The team selected Orna Voloh (Israel) to coordinate the computer work. The artists photographed and presented their work on their website then judged the pieces online to select which ones would be accepted for use in the main collage. The team decided Tatiana Van Iten (Indiana, USA) would assemble the collage with the help of her niece, Alisa. The collage took months to assemble as packages containing several hundred pieces arrived at Tatiana's home.

The third mention is that of a young artist, Anastasia from Uzbekistan. Anastasia died during the creation of this project at the young age of 14. Remembered as being very enthusiastic to be part of this beading community and this project, Anastasia's name is forever imprinted on the leaves of a beaded tree designed by Larisa Kovalevskaya (Russia). Her memory will live on through the Alice in Wonderland masterpiece and in the hearts of all the artists that helped create it.

Alice in Wonderland was presented in June 2010 at the Bead and Button Show where hundreds of artists admired it at the show's main entrance. It was auctioned off at the Bead Social with the proceeds going to breast cancer research. As of early 2012, Chris and Stuart Freedman, co-owners of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, proudly display Alice in Wonderland in the front lobby for their employees and visitors, who come from around the world to tour the company.

"We are fortunate to be in a position where we can share this work of art with our families and thousands of beading community friends online. Whether it's viewing the collage in our foyer or admiring the details up close in our online Gallery of Designs, we have the ability to share this piece with artists worldwide." - Chris Freedman

View the Success Stories of some of the artists who contributed to the Alice in Wonderland beaded project. More Success Stories coming soon!