Exclusive bead design by Irina Belinskaya (Russia – Moscow, February 2005)
“Everything, that has been happening to me - is a chain of coincidences. I often have a feeling like I have dragged into a funnel, that I have been whirled, without my permission…” Irina Belinskaya
With greatest pleasure I introduce you the master of beadwork from Moscow – Irina Belinskaya. Irina has been a designer of bead jewelry and accessories for many years, in the past she was cooperating with famous Moscow studios. And now she owns a workshop and a shop of bead makes. Read a fascinating story about this master of beadwork!
Irina, how did it all begin?
In 1987 I found some bead stale goods among my mother's things, so I took a thread, smeared it with glue, for I didn't find a thin needle. I also found some patterns in an old newspaper, which turned yellow in the course of time, and thus, I began working. Finally, I got not a small necklace, and earrings to it with the geometrical ornament. I was rather self-satisfied with my work.
I used to wear my masterpiece and was proud of it. Probably, not a few people liked it, because it was an unusual adornment, and I think I had chosen a good color. Now I smile when I take it in my hands and remember myself in that time. I was proud, although I was quiet sure that I would never repeat this heroic deed in future. Indeed, in the following 8 years I have been doing everything: crocheted all kinds of napkins, knitted, embroidered rugs with a needle, done macrame, learned tatting, embroidered, sewed, tried to work with leather, even painted, but I didn't even touch beads.
Nevertheless, you got back to beadwork. How did it happen?
In the end of 90-s, in a most banal way, because of the economic crisis in Russia I decided to earn money and was tempted by an ad in the newspaper about the courses of beadwork with a possibility of work at home and additional earnings. At about third course I realized that it was often boring and not interesting to copy what our teacher was giving us. Especially as I didn't have to do blind copying to prove my diploma. Moreover, some of my works were made of the principle reasons that this might be improved. That's why I made different works using the same techniques. Actually, I had enough courage to reach the fifth course only in order to learn these techniques. I graduated… and put my diploma into the closet.
I have to go back a little, though. My life turned out so that the circumstances were creating me as a designer, but it wasn't me who was creating these circumstances. Everything, that has been happening to me in future, beginning with the third course, - is a chain of coincidences, etc.
So how did you become a professional?
So then: on the third course it was already clear that I wouldn't be able to earn, in any case if working for those, who has been teaching us. First of all, they took for realization only the works, which were done in a strictly limited color range, secondly, seed beads were supposed to be bought there, and their price was rather high. The same with the beads, accessories and so on. But even this wasn't the most important fact. Our works were accepted at a very cheap cost and by weight! Selling my work at such costs – meant not respect myself.
A sad beginning… How did the circumstances turn out further on?
By that moment I found studio “Golden ring” by chance, it was a member of the Artists Society and kept to the exclusive bead tendency. This studio was selling beaded hats. I was impressed and “taken ill” with hats. I asked my teacher to give us a pattern of some hat in order to understand the principle itself. What I was given couldn't be called a hat. That make didn't have neither form, nor look… Back then I designed my own hat and showed it to the owner of the “Golden ring”. She offered cooperation, awarded me with a special block, for which I'm still grateful to her. Thanks to that block I made a whole hat collection. The condition under which we cooperated was to create absolutely new models, my own ones, not copying the works of other designers.
How did you designer's career continue?
Then I entered the Moscow club “Modern beads”. The conductor of the club is Galina Pchelkina. I got into a rather nice company; I continued to develop there, to exchange my experience, to gain impressions. Further on I was offered cooperation by the company “Amber orchid” by the recommendation of G. Pchelkina. I was a designer there for several years, creating works with inclusion of amber. My works were mainly sold abroad: to Spain , Germany , USA , and Japan . In Moscow they could be found only in some very prestigious shops. I did not know how all of these were sold and who to.
Irina, why did you leave “Amber orchid”?
I had several reasons for that. The first one is the fact that I keep up exclusive tendency. And for the “Amber orchid” business came first, and then everything else. Hats and business are hardly compatible concepts. I couldn't and I didn't want to change. By that time I already had a group of students formed, who were working using my own patterns and my own models. Gradually, the level of skill became higher, their models – more sophisticated, the staff grew, and we even had two men with us. As a result I've been having same craftsmen for six years already. And now I was ready for my own shop, and I opened it! Its name “Salon Beads Exclusion” came into being on its own. Now it is my lifestyle.
Please, share you impressions of shop sales.
The leading manager of the “Amber orchid” in her time was absolutely right backing me up, in order that I didn't get carried away. She told me: “Ira, 90% of people are ordinary people, and ordinary people wear ordinary clothing.” It is really so!
And what do they lack?
Bracelets, earrings, tings, brooches, clasp pins, adornments of light or elegant, maybe original accomplishment. Belts, purses… There is a definite appeal to red, scarlet and bright colors. The interest to different shades of green is foreshadowed. The techniques – all kinds of mossiness, coral ness, fur, and moss with copped stones (malachite, coral, turquoise, lazuli and so on), almost lossless option. Cabs stones are highly respected, also amber in all kinds. Also, people are afraid of chic things, they are admired, I hear and see that, but they keep asking where to wear such chic clothes. It chiefly has to do with hats. I keep saying that everything depends on their inner self-perception, and those, who feel right, don't ask such questions. But, indeed such people are in the minority. Nevertheless, there are always enthusiasts to admire glass-case, they are both: children and teenagers of both sexes, men, granddaddies and grand mammas. The purchasers in the shop are mostly women in the age from 18 to 60. The most interesting thing is that they firstly admire hats.
They say there is no accounting for tastes. Is it true that the tastes of your purchasers differ a lot?
I agree with that. The tastes of Russian people are very different. I became sure of this fact communicating with people directly after I'd open my shop. Someone likes strict, clear-cut lines, somebody – massive and volumetric, others – elegant, or openwork, another wants a string around the neck with a cabs stone on it. As a matter of fact it's not something special, everything is rather simple, but the purchaser likes it. The Japanese have also fallen in love with this variant. They like different beads on the lacings of all kinds: mosaic cord, square cord, 2-4 pieces threads. Another lossless option – fluffs with copped stones, almost everyone likes them. There are no embroidered adornments in my shop yet.
Do you make the adornments yourself, or are your craftsmen doing it now?
I don't like making copies. If only do the work once, and further on my craftsmen continue. Although, I hope that I will start embroidering, at least for myself.
Could you, please, tell us the exact location of your shop?
Sure, I can: Moscow . Subway station Konkovo – there must be guide sign. The exit from the station leads directly to our shopping centre. “ Coney Island ”, that's why there's a sign. Pavilion # 2037.
Irina, where do you find creative inspiration?
When you see clever works by other designers, you get a most powerful flush of positive energy, a desire to create more and more arises, and also there appears a thought: “ that's an interesting tendency, I can try it…”, and also it's like I get a “flip on my nose”, in order not to get carried away, and it is an additional stimulant for the self improvement. Clever works by other designers always bring joy to my heart and delight me.
Do you have any other hobbies?
We have been recently discussing this topic with my husband, what I like doing more, and what I would like to do. If I wasn't what I am now, my second business would be – flowers and all kinds of plants. As we have built a country house, I have become engaged into house accomplishment very much, and I do enjoy it. Earlier, I've had home plants only. Although, I had plenty of them. And now, when I see a plant which I don't have yet, my heart stops. I'd say that I would do beadwork as a hobby with much pleasure. But I don't have a way back. I now have permanent craftsmen, and I can't leave them. If I advertise and develop my shop to the stage when I won't have to spend so much time in its business, but others will do it, then, yes, may be.
Where can we find your works on the Internet?
My website is in the process of design now.