Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mandi Designs Like A 12 Year Old

June's awesome post about the birth of a kit and her design techniques led me reflect on the evolution of my own design process. Today, I want to share a little story with you.

Mandi Ainsworth
a sample of  my beadwork at age 12, found in my grandma's jewelry box 14 years later

I’ve been in love with beads ever since my grandma gave me her loom at a young age.
I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit since then, too.
One summer when I was 12, I decided to make some bead money by selling my strung seed bead jewelry. I lived by the lake, and the busiest day is the fourth of July. There was a little store that everyone would buy ice at on their way to the boat ramp, and the owner agreed to let me sell my jewelry in front of his store.
With the date set and the agreement made, I started beading up a storm. I created patterns that I liked, and color combinations that made me happy. I’d finish one design that would spark a new idea for another design. I realize now looking back that I was creating a collection! I didn't think too much about what people would want to buy, and only a few designs ended up red, white, and blue. I stayed up late creating with reckless abandon, just doing what I loved.
The big day came, and I laid out my jewelry on the walkway in front of the store. My sign read bracelets $1, necklaces $2, and leather keychains $5. I didn't exactly get the idea of pricing for my time, but I never questioned the value of my work. I had the mentality of “who wouldn't want one of my cool bracelets?” I ended up making $76 that day, and I felt so rich!
Mandi Ainsworth
My Andromeda Spike Pendant- one of 3 projects I will teach at B&B 2014

If my 12 year old self knew what used to go through my head when I designed, she would kick my *$$! Recent designs have been edited by the thoughts, “What will my colleagues think of this?” and even worse “Is this good enough?” I've held myself back in ways I never did before I decided I want this to be a career. The piece I created for a beading challengejust to have fun, was the piece that ended up in a Beading Daily newsletter.
Now I design like my 12 year old self, and I feel liberated. I haven't had "designer's block" since! I also take time to create things that allow me to be fully expressed as an artist that may not turn into a kit or class. 
Mandi Ainsworth
Rajah, the beaded tiger I'm working on
Some designers don't create things outside of what they're teaching or creating tutorials for, but I know it feeds my soul, so it works for me. 
My design advice is to bead what makes you happy, and get lost in it. Get so lost you have to set an alarm so you remember to eat! Most importantly, have fun!


  1. I knew this has to be an inherent talent! You are so quirky and interesting. Makes me want to take off in my own direction! I've always been so conventional.

  2. What a wonderful philosophy! I think we do get a bit trapped once we decide to bead for business. It can sometimes become "work" instead of the fun it used to be. Thanks, Mandy!

  3. Fantastic! What great advice for all those who create! I am getting ready to start designing my "Collection" for Jewelry Design School. I have been intimidated and terrified to start it. This post really helps me see how I need to approach it! I can't thank you enough!

  4. Since beading is my outlet and hobby, it's all fun for me anyway.Whenever I think about turning it into a proffession, all my enthusiam goes out the door. There are so many factors, how to price my work, where to find the funds to make enough jewelry to sell, the list goes on and on. For now - it will stay and wonderful passion of mine.

  5. Thank you all for your comments :) Jillie, I'm glad it was helpful! Linda, I of course don't know the whole story, but if you want to have a business, don't let figuring out the details hold you back! If you don't have a desire to have a business, that's fine, too!

  6. Wonderful philosophy! I am intrigued with Rajah....am eagerly awaiting to see him finished! Hugs.