Jeweler Transforms Art After Loss

Amanda Taylor shows off her Iowa-inspired wall hanging

By Marcia E. Gawecki

When jewelry artist Amanda Clark Taylor closed Artisans, her art gallery in Idyllwild, it wasn’t her only loss.  Family members, including her beloved mother, had died all within a short time period. To cope, Amanda found solace in her jewelry making.

“I had lots of time on my hands when I was closing up my father-in-law’s house in Iowa, of all places,” Amanda said. “But I fell in love with the area and the people.”

At first, Amanda was frustrated because she couldn’t find her normal bead supply stores, or even the brighter colors in her artist’s palette. So she began working with square beads in earth tones and took a few classes.

“I drove to a bead class in Iowa City, which was four hours away,” Amanda said. “The trip wasn’t so bad because there were frozen custard stops along the way.”

The result was an impressive wall hanging made out of square beads.

“It started out as a 3-by-7-inch bracelet,” Amanda explained. “And then I just kept going, and made it into a square. Well, that didn’t look right, so I made it into a larger rectangle.”

Right now, she’s in the process of making the 26-by-13-inch sculpture so it can hang on a wall. She’s weighted the bottom and is attaching a backing to the top so that it can take a hanger.

“Ribbons,” the Iowa-inspired wall hanging is shown on her personal web site, Bead by Bead by Bead, but there are no prices listed—yet.

“I didn’t put any prices on my web site because they were all for sale at Artisans Gallery,” Amanda said.

The beaded wrap for this sculpture broke three times before Amanda perfected it

At her gallery openings, she was famous for wearing her own large, colorful jewelry with the price tag hanging out. When well-intentioned people would tell her to hide the tag, she’d laugh and tell them it was for sale.

“I sold a lot of pieces that way,” Amanda joked.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, Amanda and her friend, Tawny Crist of Banning, were selling their excess bead supplies at Oh My Dog Gallery in Idyllwild, which is right next door to where Artisans Gallery used to be. It’s now The Hub, a new bike shop.

Amanda has no bitterness about being so close to her former location.

“I miss the artists, but not the business end of running a gallery,” Amanda said.

But she talked about her transformation as an artist.

“I am now an artist who uses beads, instead of a beader who did artwork,” she said.

Tawny was sitting cross-legged on the floor of Oh My Dog Gallery looking at several of Amanda’s necklaces. The two she most wanted were made of Venetian coils about 15 years ago.

“There’s just something so special about the colors that she uses,” Tawny said. “She’s a true artist.”

"Amanda is a true artist," said friend Tawny Crist, with dog, Mick.

Amanda’s new art emphasis will not be on the beads, but the sculptures that she creates with the beads.

Another piece that she had created during a workshop last year depicted a round, dark stone in the middle. The “wrap,” or beaded attachment, was a challenge, Amanda said, because it broke three times.

“The first time, the thread wasn’t strong enough, and then the stitch wasn’t right (too open),” Amanda explained. “Now the wrap is made with 14-pound fishing line with a peyote stitch.”

She said that the stone, which has a natural white line carved into it, weighed about 10 pounds.

Amanda plans to use more organic material like stones into her future work. Right now, she’s working on a beaded nest for a large ostrich egg. And she’s also making a patchwork quilt with 2 1/2-inch squares made with her leftover beads.

Amanda sold her excess beads to help pay for a class with Betsy Youngquist in Chicago

With the money she made by selling her leftover beads, Amanda is planning on taking a class with Betsy Youngquist of Chicago, whom she met through a friend.

On her iPhone, she showed us a picture of “Otto,” an octopus Betsy created with beads. (You can see the image on

“Isn’t that wonderful?” Amanda said with glee. “Of course, we won’t be making octopuses like that right away. They’re starting us off with spoons.”

Taking this class will help Amanda move her art in a new, and more challenging, direction, she said.

To view Amanda’s art, visit Bead by Bead by Bead at

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Beads Table Sale

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One Comment to “Jeweler Transforms Art After Loss”

  1. Judy says:

    Amanda’s work has always been creative, unique, and beautiful. She has a wonderful eye for color and for combining shapes and forms. I’m delighted to see her new endeavors as an artist and wish her every success.~~Judy, AussenWolf Designs.