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 Witch Beads
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Sylvia Fairhurst became addicted to crafts during childhood, learning basics of sewing at at school, at home her mother taught her to knit, though she never managed to finish anything she loved to learn new stitches, her grandmother taught her to crochet. As she grew she tried every craft she came into contact with, including tatting, lace making and cross stitch until she discovered beads, at which point everything else paled into insignificance and her passion for beadwork began.

Sylvia spent a number of years beading in isolation learning from books and designing her own patterns. Then in the mid 1990’s she met Irene Barnes who was demonstrating tambour beadwork at the NEC craft show, Irene invited her to have a go and said she was a natural. Sylvia recalls “I was utterly and completely hooked, pardon the pun, I stayed with Irene all day, I asked my friends to do the show without me and collect me at home time. That was the end of my beading in isolation and the beginning of a wonderful life with new friends and new experiences”.

The Great British Bead Show in 1997 was her next discovery, a biennial event then organized by Jill Devon, Sylvia attended several workshops and enjoyed the experience so much she vowed never ever to miss it in future. At the 1999 Great British Bead Show, The Beadworkers Guild was formed and the elected committee accepted responsibility for organizing future shows. Shortly after the Guild’s formation Sylvia was proud to be invited to join the committee, since joining she has accepted responsibility for organizing the annual workshop programme, The Great British Bead Show, publicity and venue searches.

In January 2000, Sylvia formed a members group in Addicted to Beads in Milton Keynes and continued teaching in earnest evenings and weekends.

Cheryl Scholes proprietor of The Thread and Needle Studio in Leighton Buzzard invited Sylvia to teach on a regular basis, this expanded to holding a Saturday morning bead club once a month.

Sylvia has such a passion for beading that she chose to gain recognition for both her beadwork and her teaching abilities and committed herself to furthering her own education for 3 years.

In the first year she completed C&G 7802 Bead Needle Weaving 2002, then concentrated on teaching qualifications, embarking on a C&G 7307/03 Adult Education Teaching Certificate Stage 1 completing in March 2003, the progressed to C&G 7407/02 Level 4 Adult Education Teaching Certificate Stage 2 completing in February 2004.

During her final year of studying, Sylvia gained further employment running a number of 10 week courses.for Adult Education at Stantonbury School, Milton Keynes. 

The 2003 Great British Bead Show, was Sylvia’s first experience of teaching at a large event, she was delighted to have been selected and had a great time. 

This experience has been surpassed by an invitation from the chairman of the Japanese Bead Society, Yusai Shokoin to teach in Japan August 2004. 

Sylvia finds that she cannot look at an object without thinking “how can I make that with beads?” Occasional inspirational flashes will dictate her next project and have her scribbling on bits of paper so as not to forget the idea, but usually her designs evolve from playing and experimenting, Sylvia enjoys working with crystals her first original design ‘Victorian Collection’ was sold before it was completed, it was admired by so many people that Sylvia decided to write the instructions and sell it in kit form, it continues to sell well. As a result of this confidence in her own design ideas grew and she now has several designs available in kit form.

Sylvia has no specific favourite technique, but says “I love the feel of single bead right angle weave, I have a sample piece for showing students it feels amazing, the fluid movement in all directions just makes me drool, it’s like a comfort blanket you don’t want to put it down, I find I have little time for self indulgence though. My current designs are favouring sculptural work in tubular form using dutch spiral and peyote techniques, but who knows what it will be next?”.

Sylvia’s work has featured in two of The Beadworkers Guild books, Ear Rings and Necklaces. 

Sylvia was offered the opportunity in Feb 2004, to take voluntary redundancy from her day job as a Project Manager for BT, this didn’t take too much thinking about. In March 2004 Sylvia was redundant, she sees this as a golden opportunity to expand her business, and continue to help others share in the mouthwatering pleasure of selecting beads to join together with needle and thread and create something new and unique, a fantastic experience to share.