Heidi Kummli creates detailed beadwork that expresses her feelings for Mother Earth. Finding inspiration from the world around her, Heidi walks with her dogs every day and encounters wildlife who show up in her designs. She was born an artist. It is her creative soul.
How did you find yourself on an artist’s path?
Art was something I have been doing since I could hold a pencil. It was the one thing I was good at in school.
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I remember taking my first silver smithing class in high school, it was fabulous, I was hooked, making jewelry has always been my favorite, though painting with watercolors and pencil drawing a close second.
I recently started playing with needle felting and I enjoy the process, much like bead work it is very meditative and feeds and expresses my heart and soul.
I started my career in beadwork in 1975, when I saw some beaded earrings on a women and I knew I wanted to do that. I am a self taught artist, learning from books, and trial and error. Back in the 70’s there wasn’t much out there on beadwork, I feel I was a pioneer on the craft.
There is something about beading as I mentioned earlier, about it being very meditative. I can just get in the zone with it, spirit flows through me. I specialize in bead embroidery and feel this technique to be very forgiving in the sense that if you mess up or want to change something it is easily undone, unlike other forms of beadwork like bead weaving.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours, What inspires your work?
I think I have to blame my work being what it is and my signature because of my surrounding and love of nature.
I live on 16 acres in the foothills of Northern Colorado at 9000 ft. My husband and I build our off the grid home here 25 years ago. I walk my dogs twice a day while never running into humans, only the wildlife such as moose, coyotes, deer, elf, bear, chipmunks, hawks and eagles, and a few others.
These creatures we share the planet with are dear to me, we honor and respect them. I hope that this message is passed on through my art to do the same. Mother Earth is sacred as is all life; we as humans need to protect all of life especially those with no voice.
What do I do differently, in a way I think I have paved the way for many bead embroidery artists. My style and work is often seen and shared through the people with whom I inspire, teach and share my gifts.
Do you plan your work out ahead of time, or do you just dive in with your materials and start playing?
I may have an idea, then it’s all play and diving.
Many times it is a component that inspires me, sometimes it’s an animal I ran into that wants me to share a message. Or perhaps I have an opinion about something happening on the planet that needs to be shared.
I also practice Shamanism so that can inspire a piece as well. I love to decorate, the art of placement, I get excited looking at other peoples junk, I consider what I might do with this to make it better, up cycle it some how, to make it beautiful once again.
How do you manage your creative time? Do you schedule start and stop times? Or work only when inspired?
I work all the time, beading has been my full time job for 45 years. I don’t consider it work, it is my passion, my life. I am fortunate enough to make money doing it.
I usually start my day with walking the dogs, yoga, meditation if I am lucky. I feel taking care of oneself is so important, how can we share, inspire others if we aren’t in the right spiritual, mental, and physical space to begin with.
Describe your creative space.
I work on the top floor of our 3 story home, I’m surrounded with windows. To the East is the fount range, the South gives me a view of the valley below and the sleeping giant, West is the Indian Peaks, and North the back hill.
I am an organized beader, so after a project is completed everything is put back in place.
My studio is full of art that gives me joy. I love funky old stuff and often bring in art from nature. Most of my components are in tiny drawers or glass riker mounts so I can see when searching for just the right piece.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? If so, what kind?
I prefer to work in silence but also like to listen to spiritual podcasts, especially when it’s a project I need to really focus on and get done. That’s not to say I won’t turn on some music to dance and sing too. My shamanic work brings much singing and dancing with my drum, it is such a beautiful release.
Depending on if I have a show or not determines my work load. I worked productions for many years in a crystal factory making figurines, we got paid by the piece so I have a very good production sense. I can really crank some work out if needed.
The older I get though the more I really want to take my time with a piece and make it just right. I am not in a hurry anymore, been there done that.
How often do you start a new project? Do you work actively on more than one project at a time?
I like working on one piece at a time, giving it the care and energy it needs. But sometimes it is more efficient to work on a few pieces or earrings to match the necklace. In this way while I am waiting for the glue to dry on a piece I can bead on another.
I love to start a new piece, collecting the components I might use. Laying them out like a puzzle to see how they may fit. It often takes me hours to just finally find all the components that might work together. Beading the pieces flows easily and I know when its done when it tells me, yes the beads do talk to me.
Which part of the design process is your favorite? Which part is a challenge for you?
The part I most dislike about being a self employed artist, is the photographing, listing of items, bookkeeping, taxes, and all the business jazz.
Do you think that creativity is part of human nature or is it something that must be nurtured and learned?
I was born an artist, a creative soul, it is my life purpose.
I feel fortunate to know that and have always followed my heart, I have never questioned my choices and am thankful my parents supported my visions to do so.
Everyone on the planet has a gift to share, it doesn’t matter what it is, teaching, building, caring for others, cooking, writing, cleaning. I think we should all take the time needed to find what our gift is.
If you don’t know, try something new, take a class, listen to your heart, life is short- start living it.
Where can people see your work?
People can find my work on my website and in my Etsy shop:
I teach a few online classes. Registration for the “Beaded Object Class” starts in Nov 2023. This will be the 5th year teaching this class online. In this 5 week course students learn how to bead around an object. You can check out the classes section on my website for other classes available.
Interview posted September 2023
Browse through more bead inspiration and projects on Create Whimsy.