I learned the fundamentals of making beaded leather purses by the light of kerosene lamps in a log cabin 10,800 ft. up the back of Aspen Mountain in Colorado. My designs have evolved since 1970, but I continue to sew leather and beads into functional, decorative purses.
I begin each purse by developing the beaded design that will be its visual focus, stitching the beads directly onto cut leather pieces. I select beads from an infinite variety of sizes, colors, and facets, much as a painter would select from a palette of oils. My intent is to create a visual dance of color and light that reflects the intensity of mountain colors, the power of a desert sunset, or the delicate twinkle of a clear night sky. Wendy Ellsworth shows the proper techniques of stitching on beading in this article from Threads #7.