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Beaded Jewelry Artist Spotlight: Valerie Hector

We are almost at the finish line with our beaded artists spotlights, but not yet. This week we are showcasing the talents and artistry of Valerie Hector.

As a young artist, Hector’s early drawings reflected her love for beads. Eventually, her mother became concerned with her fascination with the beads. So, she moved on to other interests. In her early teens, she started playing with them again, making ornaments and flowers from the kits of the day. Hector started with a strand of wooden beads - and the simple techniques a toddler can manage -- string the beads, unstring the beads, and string them again, maybe in a new color pattern.

Hector tried other career ideas, but on January 1, 1988, she rented a work-live space in Chicago, Ill. where she began to build a body of work. Hector practiced soldering so she could finish her pieces with original armatures and clasps. During that time, she learned various African bead netting techniques.

Since then, Hector has designed several other bodies of work - changing many things in the process - her beads, beading techniques and studio location. However, her goal is still the same - to design pieces that blend streamlined forms with lush surfaces, balancing simplicity and complexity, ease of wear and long-term durability.

In the last few years, Hector has been researching mainland Chinese beadwork. Her papers "Chinese Bead Curtains, Past and Present" and "Mainland Chinese Export Beadwork" were published in 2013 and 2017 in Beads: The Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers.

In 2014 and 2015, at the invitation of Hwei-Fe'n Cheah, she spent time studying the beadwork of the Peranakan Chinese peoples of island (and parts of mainland) Southeast Asia. She published her paper, "Bead Netting and Plaiting Techniques in the Peranakan World" in the 2016 issue of Beads.

Recently, Hector completed a paper for the Spring, 2018 issue of Bead Forum entitled "Beaded Shop Signs in Republican Beijing (1912-1949)." Links to all three papers may be found on the Publications page of her website.

For more information of Valerie’s beadwork and published papers, visit

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