By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
“I have always felt a close relationship with people of the Earth, those who honor the animals and the gifts that the Great Spirit has given us.” – Heidi Kummli
From the moment you first see Heidi Kummli’s charming smile and hear her soft, calming voice, you can tell she is a warm, tranquil soul. She is also an award-winning bead artist, author and teacher. Heidi and her husband live outside of Nederland, Colorado on a 12 acre, off the grid home in the woods.
Nederland is located on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, 47 miles northwest of Denver, at an elevation of 8,236 feet (1.56 miles) above sea level. It’s a rural town that began as a trading post between the pioneers and the Ute Indians in 1850s. Even today, the town has a population of just 1,500 people. It’s the kind of place that evokes dreams of the wild frontier.
From her studio on the third floor of her house, Heidi Kummli can see storms rolling in over the snow-capped tree tops along the Continental Divide. It’s obvious that Heidi is an avid nature lover from her chosen home and surroundings. Many beginning beaders who have made the trek to Nederland to take classes in her studio would wholeheartedly agree.
As a young girl, Heidi made jewelry for her family from found treasures: bottle caps, pinecones, etc. By the time high school rolled around, she was making beaded jewelry. She received her first and only “A” in a jewelry making class. An “aha” moment followed. It was the start of her life’s work and passion for bead artistry and design.
Much of Heidi’s beadwork is based on themes from nature that surround her on any given day. She strives to portray the beauty and peace of nature in her exquisite bead designs. She often includes gemstones like jasper, turquoise and carnelian, along with resin plaques of animals with a myriad of tiny beads of all colors.
The results are distinctly unique and breathtakingly beautiful. Indeed, Heidi’s beadwork designs have an instantly recognizable signature style. She calls them, “earthy.” Many of her pieces have won national awards. She’s most proud of winning first place in the Beads category of the Saul Bell Award in 2003. The theme was Nature’s Jewels. It was an honor for Heidi to even be allowed to compete for this prestigious award.
As impressive as winning the Saul Bell Award was, her favorite work to date is titled the "Shamanic Path." It won first place in the Jewelry category and runner up for Best of Show in the Bead Dreams competition at the 2014 Bead & Button Show. The show is an internationally renowned venue for bead artists. Heidi’s amazing necklace and bracelet set took an incredible amount of time. She will tell you she poured her heart and soul into the effort. She means this literally, as she is a practitioner of Shamanism. Shamanism is an ancient way of life that encourages meditation and spiritual healing. Its teachings also focus on the connection between all creation and nature.
Heidi humbly denies credit for her incredible beaded creations. She believes the universe is the true source of her work and that she’s just a medium through which it speaks. But as much as Heidi loves to share the gifts of nature through her work, she also enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for beadwork with others. She holds seasonal workshops at her home for small groups of beaders. You can find out more about them on her website: http://www.heidikummlidesigns.com/workshops.html.
Heidi finds teaching her beading techniques to others to be a rewarding experience:
“I am flattered that people will drive all the way up in the mountains to spend a day with me. I feel that I have made some real beautiful connections with people, I love seeing the excitement and joy that someone gets after completing a workshop, that they actually made this piece of wearable art and learned so much about the process and themselves.” –Heidi Kummli
She loves to take long walks with her dogs in the woods around her home before she teaches a bead workshop. These walks help her relate to her students how inspiring the beauty and peace of nature truly is. But Heidi won’t be pinned down to nature as her one inspiration, though it is dear to her. Wherever she travels, she finds new sources of inspiration to incorporate into her designs.
“Things can always change. So let’s say I get much of my inspiration from nature because that is what I am surrounded by. How can one not be inspired by the beauty in nature, the colors, the animals, the messages are all there for the taking and free.” – Heidi Kummli
As much as she enjoys teaching, she is also enjoys learning. She has studied Native American beadwork techniques and the work of indigenous peoples throughout the world to whom she feels a close connection. When asked if she has a favorite saying or mantra she follows during her work, she laughs. She says she is always reminded of the prudent words of an elderly man who lived nearby: “Make it simple, stupid.” She feels some of her best pieces have been designs that were not too involved.
Heid Kummli’s message to beginning beaders everywhere is this:
“As anything it takes time to learn the process and practice makes perfect. But bead work is more than just beading a piece of jewelry. It's also very meditative and healing. It may take time to finish a piece because beads are small but if you can get past the time issue and just enjoy the feeling you get working with these amazing tiny glass jewels it will be most rewarding in so many levels.” – Heidi Kummli
Heidi Kummli has artisan beadwork kits available for purchase in her Etsy store. She also wrote The Spirit of Bead Embroidery, 2012 and co-authored The Art of Bead Embroidery, Technique, Design & Inspiration, 2007. You can find out more about upcoming shows and studio beadwork classes on Heidi’s website.
For those of us (like me) who don't have the patience to do beadwork, never mind these extraordinary creations by Heidi, we can always hope to have one of her pieces in our jewelry collection one day!
I hope you enjoyed this long overdue look into the amazing world of Heidi Kummli beadwork.
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Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems and jewelry. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and was the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques for many years. Current projects include writing jewelry related web copy and blogs for clients worldwide. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her? Would you like to advertise on her website or blog? Visit danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms, her media kit and more information.
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The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!
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