Although almost 50 women gathered in the Nederland Community Center multi-purpose room on Saturday, there was little noise. Oh sure, now and then there was an eruption of laughter, or whispered instructions, but for the most part the women were intent on the work in front of them.
Beads. Billions of beads. Beads in strings, beads in bags, sparkly beads, earthy beads, downright dazzling beads and beads with faces on them, or maybe just eyes. Shelves and racks and boxes and bags of beads filled the room, reflecting the late afternoon light, dancing and twinkling as moving shapes cast shadows and sunshine over the iridescent orbs and squares and amorphous jewels.
The First Annual Colorado Bead Retreat was underway and the creations that were being formed was unlike any beadwork most people see. The bracelets and necklaces and even the boots were exquisite, exotic, and out in the world would be unique, but there in the center, much of the work resembled each others. These women were working on designs that came in kits they purchased.
Rollinsville resident Betcey Ventrella, Ward resident Heidi Kummli and Sherry Serfini brainstormed the retreat for years. In 2007 after Heidi and Sherry released the Art of Bead Embroidery, the world renowned definitive book on the subject, they vowed if they ever held a class together, it would be for Beyond Beadery, Betcey’s shop in Rollinsville.
The first annual retreat invitation was put on Facebook and 40 slots were sold in 11 minutes. The retreat consisted of Friday, Saturday and Sunday workshops, gourmet lunches, a ride on The Carousel of Happiness and a chance to explore the restaurants of Nederland. The members of the workshop filled the Best Western Lodge and the Sundance Lodge.
Instructors Heidi Hummli and Sherry Serafini are well known enough to attract serious headers. Heidi has researched Native American beadwork techniques and through trial and error, her work has evolved. She lives with her husband and children off the grid outside of Ward and she has won numerous design awards. She brings healing energy into her art work and passes it on in her teachings.
Sherry is one of the top 10 instructors in the United States and lectures and teaches throughout the country. Her work has been featured on the covers of trade magazines and catalogs, and her beaded art is worn by Grammy winner Melissa Etheridge, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz and singer Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas.
Five of the students attending the retreat were from Colorado. All the rest were from all over the country including New Mexico, Florida, New York, Washington, New Jersey, Nebraska, Louisiana, Alaska, California and Illinois.
Throughout the sessions, raffle items were handed out and the proceeds from the raffle, over $1000 went to the Jamestown Flood Relief and the NCC.
Betcey said there were 100 names on the waiting list, that they had not advertised the event, just posted it online to mail order customers.
NCC coordinator Dawn Baumhover said, “This is exactly the kind of low impact
event the community center wants to promote. It is sponsored by locals and brings revenue to the town and there is little cleanup afterwards.”