Virginia Blakelock taught herself beadwork as a child. As a teenager, she spent four years in Karachi, Pakistan, which left an indelible mark on her artistic sensibility. While attending college, she abandoned a potential career in computer systems analysis to devote herself to painting. Virginia rediscovered beads in the late 1970s, and after buying $12 worth of beads at a theater rummage sale, she made a conscious decision to bring her fine-arts training and unique sensibility to the craft of beading
Working in isolation for 10 years, Virginia emerged as the most important artist of the “new beadwork” movement on the west coast. Her book “Those Bad Bad Beads” was the first modern approach to beadwork; she was the first to describe the Herringbone and African Helix stitches. Virginia’s work is featured in “Beading Across America”, available from Kalmbach Books.
Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and has been written about and reproduced in many magazines, including Bead&Button
. Her work can also be seen in “Beading on a Loom” by Don Pierce (Interweave Press, 1999), “Les Perles” by Natasha Wolters (Syros, 1996), “The New Beadwork” by Kathy Moss (Abrams, 1992), and “500 Beaded Objects” edited by Carol Wilcox-Wells (Lark, 2004).
Although largely out of the public eye now, Virginia continues to make complex, one-of-a-kind pieces and supports herself with her mail-order business, Beadcats, Inc. She spends her non-bead time with her husband, sailing on Puget Sound, restoring an 1897 farm house, and building a passive-solar, all-concrete house.