Mary Calanche

Beading artist Mary Calanche of Dayton, whose studio is in such a shed, doesn’t have the answer, but she does know this:

“It’s stuffed full!”

Insulated, wired, and lighted, Calanche’s unique workroom is a place for intense concentration, meticulous attention to detail, and now and then, judicious use of the vacuum with a nylon stocking over the nozzle — one of the best ways to remedy the calamity of a flipped tray of tiny, tiny beads.

“If you haven’t ever dropped beads, then you’re just getting started into the craft,” Calanche, who has been creating beaded jewelry and other items for 25 years, says.

Under the business name, This n That, Calanche fashions earrings, necklaces, and bracelets using a variety of techniques: stringing beads onto wire or thread, weaving, wirework (which involves coiling, looping, and twisting wire that holds the beads), and bead embroidery (using a needle and thread to attach beads to a surface like fabric, suede or leather). She also experiments with finger weaving, metal work, and kumihimo, a Japanese technique of braiding silk strands to create colored cords.

“This is why I chose This n That as my name!”

Calanche started her foray into beading shortly after marrying her husband, GrayEagle. Watching him do projects for his dance regalia, Calanche decided to give it a try, with her first project being a flat, beaded rose. It remains a favorite piece because of its leather backing, which came from the last deer her father shot.

“It took a long time for me to finish,” Calanche remembers. But from that point, she was unstoppable, poring through books and magazines for project ideas and teaching techniques. There is no end to potential projects, Calanche says.

“New beads of every shape, size, and color come out constantly,” she explains. “You can take an old pattern and change it up. Or you see a new project and change it into something of your own.” Sometimes, if enough time and learning curve has gone by, she revisits something that was once impossibly difficult and discovers that, somehow, it’s not so impossible anymore.

To read more about Mary Calanche, visit our blog here

Mary Calanche