seed bead jewelry designer
Van Iten earns fame
(January 2007) Tatiana Van Iten was 6 years old
and living in her native country of Russia (which at that time was the
former Soviet Union) when she learned to how to bead. Courageously,
she would help her grandmother repair religious textiles for the underground
church in the former communist country. At that time, getting caught
could have meant death for anyone in the underground church.
native Tatiana Van Iten
has earned international fame
for her unique bead jewelry.
Van Iten said her grandmother could not work on the tiny
old seed beads of the religious icons because her hands were too large,
so she taught her granddaughter to bead.
The old seed beads were so small and delicate that I would have
to make a stitch, unthread the needle, thread the bead onto the thread,
and then rethread the needle to complete the stitch, she said.
Bead after bead, Van Iten would painstakingly continue her work while
her grandmother would read Bible stories to her.
That meticulously-detailed work paid off. Today, Van Iten, a Hanover,
Ind., resident, is a world-class seed bead jewelry designer. She has
won awards from around the world for her champion designs. Her jewelry
has been displayed in many magazines throughout the world, and she has
traveled across the globe winning contest after contest.
An exhibit at Hanover Colleges Geology Department will go on display
in January and will feature several of Van Itens award-winning
designs. These necklaces are made with fossils she has collected from
geological expeditions with her husband, Heyo, and they may include
one with an image carved from the tusk of a prehistoric mammoth.
While living in Russia, Van Iten graduated from Leningrad State University
with a masters degree in photojournalism. She was a successful
photographer in Russia, and she won numerous accolades for her work.
However, 20 years ago, she married an American paleontologist and immigrated
to the United States. Her husband is a professor of geology and paleontology
at Hanover College.
Van Iten resides
in Hanover, Ind., where
she creates her
Although Van Iten still works as a freelance photographer,
with some of her work on permanent display at Hanover College, her artistic
focus at this point in her life is on her bead work.
She gets her inspiration for her jewelry design from her photography.
Much of her photography work is centered on nature; she then recaptures
the essence of the image in her jewelry design.
For instance, one of her necklaces is called Hummingbird
and is made in the image of a beautiful, blue and green hummingbird
she photographed. Another necklace, Snow Fairy, is a delicate,
solid-white creation with soft fur trim. It is reminiscent of a beautiful
She makes most of her necklaces free-hand, with no pattern, and each
is unique. She uses a variety of materials, including freshwater pearls,
gemstones, lamp work glass beads, wood and leather and fossil specimens
that range from 150 million to 400 million years old.
Her work is absolutely incredible, said Lisa Smithley at
the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library.
Van Iten offers classes at the library several times a year on beading,
and they are quite popular. Smithley said classes fill up fast when
word gets out that Van Iten is teaching them. Tatiana somehow
manages to teach in very simple ways such difficult concepts. People
just love her, she said. Her 2007 schedule at the library is not
Van Iten actually began participating in beading and jewelry design
competitions because she wanted to teach beading. Three years
ago, I applied for permission to teach beading classes at an art center
but was rejected because my name was not well-known. I was advised to
try to publish my work or enter some contests. So she did.
Since then, she has won eight first places in competitions around the
world, including a recent world competition Treasures of Toho
beading competition. She won the grand prize in the Wearable Art category
for her Forest Dragons Tears necklace and was awarded
a week-long trip to Japan as a guest of the Japanese Toho Beads Co.
She is also proud to have won the 2005 Jewelry Arts Awards Contest,
sponsored by the Lapidary Journal, the oldest jewelry magazine in the
The contest is very prestigious, and I won because
my work was different than everyone elses, said Van Iten.
She designed her necklace using fossils found during a New Mexico geological
dig, while other competitors worked with the more traditional silver
Two of her necklaces, Eleuthera and Georgia OKeffe,
are part of a traveling exhibit that will tour the country for two years
because she was a finalist in the 2006 Bead International Contest, sponsored
by the Dairy Barn Art Center, in Athens, Ohio.
Because of all the publicity her winning has created, Van Iten now is
asked to teach beading classes at major bead festivals throughout the
As if the jewelry design and photography isnt artistic enough,
Van Iten also spins her own yarn made from dog hair and then knits beautiful
Plus, she is a second-degree black belt in Chinese Kung Fu and teaches
classes several days a week at a local martial arts school.
To contact Tatiana Van Iten about her bead work,
email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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