Friday, November 22, 2013

Gerlinde Lenz

Last week, Gerlinde Lenz, who lives in  Germany, came to visit me in Switzerland and stayed during 3 nights. This was the second time that I met her in real. She came to Switzerland a few years ago within the framework of the "Beaders' Voice for Nature" action, for which I organized a meeting in Geneva.
Fondling Gerlinde's beadwork
It was like having a family member staying with us, it was really good, we had fun beading, chatting, eating. Time went by much too quickly.
I learned a lot from her and she says that she did learn from me too, but I think that my contribution to her already broad knowledge is insignificant.

Beading with friends is wonderful, beading with an advanced beader is wonderful, imagine what it is to be beading with a friend who is an advanced beader. Simply fantastic. There were moments that we were beading in silence, as if we disapeared in the act of beading. You could hear a needle fall on the ground. Or a bead. Even hear a heart beat. Magic.

Diamond Weave Necklaces
Click to see larger pictures
I admire Gerlinde very much. Not only from a beading point of view - she is very clever, straight to the heart and trustworthy. She takes care of her parents who need permanent assistance. She has a heart of gold.

As a beader, she is the same. She's generous, clever and strong. Strong because she doesn't give up easily. She masters techniques extremely well. She is active on Facebook, where she shares photos of her work, info, tips and techniques, as well as on Flickr.
Because she doesn't have a website or a blog, I thought that it would be nice to talk a bit more about her. Her work is for sure worth a special article.

Gerlinde started beading more than 20 years ago and her enthusiasm is intact, her joy of beading is contageous and her open attitude is like one of a little girl. Her eyes shine each time she discovers or simply thinks of another possibility to explore.

The very small holes of the stone beads available 25 years ago forced her to find thread paths that would pass every bead for a maximum of twice.
She loved RAW, but wanted a bracelet with straight lines of pearls parallel to the direction of the ribbon, without threads showing at the outside. So she developed a very nifty stitch which she called Diamond Weave - "DW". It can be used to make various designs and patterns. At first glance it looks a bit like RAW (right angle weave) but the edges are smooth and looking closer to find the threadpath, your brain goes like 'Huh?'
Diamond Weave Bracelets
It somehow exploits the principle of adding the first and second row in one go, like with fast peyote. Another difference - and advantage - is that beading with this technique goes very fast.

DW is particularly beautiful with variations. It is really versatile, and the few pictures here are only a tiny example of a big collection of beadwork Gerlinde made with this stitch.

The technique is pretty simple, but for beautiful soft flat work a moderate tension is essential and I tend to pull a bit stronger, because I often make 3D shapes. I'll need to experience a bit more.

It is also possible to make ropes with DW, unusual strong, hollow, round ropes which look a little bit like Russian spiral, but again, the thread path is not the same and the result more hollow and stronger. You will find more pictures of Gerlinde's work in her online flickr Gallery, where she is known as Geometric Jewels.

Now the very exciting news is that she is working on patterns, maybe booklets with projects!

Gerlinde likes to challenge herself to find new stitches and new thread paths. She is able to make very intricate pieces and it takes an experienced eye to see the clever details, such as a nearly invisible opening in the beadwork to act as a button hole, or toggle clasp. She will favor making a piece in one go instead of assembling separate little parts, which is generally not the easiest way to make something. There are really genius beaders out there, and she is one of them.

Starweave 1
with star clasp
Starweave 2
with elastic
Gerlinde loves geometry and uses it a lot in her beadwork. She has, for example, developed 2 different star weaves, starweave. 1, and starweave 2.
Can you see the little star clasp which repeat the pattern in the work?

She excells at "what if's". She'll turn a little piece of beadwork into all directions, start it over an endless number of times, until she achieves what she envisioned. For example, she envisioned the double snap clasp below before making the bracelet.

A 'Herringote' ring with
flat round firepolished
crossing over
Nifty double-snap clasp with herringote
bracelet - the clasp came first.

Her zig zag using Peyote and Herringbone stitch alternately is remarkable. I remember calling it Herringote when she came up with it and I love how she takes the stitch further. The little ring here, where the difference in distance between the right and the left side of the work is inevitable, led her to add 3 tiny little flat rounds.

Instead of seeing this difference in length as an obstacle, she sees it as an opportunity for design.

Various double Zig Zag bracelets
Peek-a-boo bracelets
made with 'Herringote' tubes
Flat, 'Herringote' looks like fabric, like twill. But when it is circular, folded or shaped in whatsoever way, it can become very dimensional, like her peek-a-boo bangles, her flower bezels, her double zig-zag bangles... 

Gerlinde's work is all about pushing the limits. Here are a few examples of her nifty bezels for rivolis. I was very impressed by her flower bezel with little stacks, her swirl-bezel and her very beautiful Modified RAW bezels (with prisms).

Flower bezel with 7 "stacks"
Flower bezel with 6 "stacks"
See how the stone is attached: it does not fall out thanks to the cupped petals, holding it in place by the tension on the beadwork. Should one turn the petals of the flower to the back, the stone would get liberated.

Monte Carlo bracelet
The flower bezel above was born from a pear-shaped bezel. Playing with Peyote and Herringbone to create a little cup for a pear, she ended up with this incredible flower-bezel, the Monte Carlo bracelet, and exquisite puffy pear-shaped earrings.

Pear shaped beaded earrings
In the picture on the right below, you can see a bezeled donut hanging from her Swirling Herringbone rope, it is a swirl-bezel. Click on the picture to see a larger image.

This "Herringbone with a swirl" rope is another beautiful result of her explorations. She created this sophisticated design by "adding new stacks between stacks and subtracting stacks on stack".
Marvellous Swirled Herringbone
Necklace with swirling bezel for
the donut.
The swirling effect came as a surprise, she says, but she has since then understood that "the oblique stacks need more space than the frame, and thus a band begins to spiral."
Admittedly this sounds like chinese to me as long as I don't try it myself, but I know that increasing Herringbone is a piece of cake when adding 3 beads at a time... but decreasing...

The blue and green necklace below is made of 6 RAW bezels enchasing square, pointed back crystal stones. The stones have incredible depth and the setting allows light to reflect really well. Huib Peterson, who taught the use of prisms other than cubes in RAW, calls RAW with such prisms Prismatic Right Angle Weave, PRAW. The sides of the bezels here are the basis of heptagon links. Gerlinde's use of PRAW results in connections made with 5 and sometimes 6 beads.
Can you see the star-shaped prisms in blue, adding more interest to the piece?

The clasp is a very long, beautiful CRAW double toggle. Needless to say that it feels like being a princess when putting this piece on.

Last but not least, Gerlinde showed me this super nifty little sample of her zig zag start using different beads in the first row to better keep track of where the decreases have to be made in the next row. Can you see that tiny white paper confetti, which can be torn and thrown away afterwards?

Peyote start of zig zag (or Herringote) with different beads
The threadpath used makes a peyote start for a zig zag much simpler.

Zig zag bracelet with nifty start
Zig zag rings with nifty start
 Left: a zig zag bracelet made with the peyote start and right two little zig zag rings made likewise.

This clever start is described and shared by Gerlinde on Facebook.

Check out her work, her albums are really worth visiting.


  1. What a lovely tribute to the talented Gerlinde! You two make a good match. ;)

  2. Thank you, Cath, for describing Gerlinde's creativity so well. Fascinating techniques! You are so lucky to have had the personal time with her.
    Mary Alexander

    1. I am lucky indeed! It was great to have her here!

  3. Great article. I'm a huge fan of Gelinde's.

  4. Cath thank you for the lovely article. Gerlinde is one of my beading heroines and it's so nice to see a lovely article about her. I hope to see more about her wonderful diagonal weave in print soon. Lidia

  5. Huge thank you, Cath!

  6. This is such a lovely blog entry, Cath. Gerlinde is a very talented lady and a sparkling gem of a human being. I am so glad that you got to spend a wonderful time together - I am sure that Gerlinde is still smiling that beautiful smile of hers when she remembers her stay with you.

    Kerrie ♥

  7. Read the article & looked, the picture ... and fell in love with the stiich. Also your description of Gerlinde's personality reflects yours ... you have put a lot of effort to write this article.

  8. Great article Cath and tribute to Gerlinde. Really interesting stitch paths and outcomes in Gerlinde's work


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