Bead Jewelry Designer


Zoya Gutina


“…Beading is my key to the secret garden, my way down the rabbit hole – like in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, my looking glass. From the beginning the process of designing a new piece of jewelry has struck me as magical. And, over the years, that magical process has had its way with me, leading me from hobby to art. Beading fills me with a sense of accomplishment and integrity, and has proven a most amenable vehicle for translating inner vision to outer reality.

 Though I work quite deliberately, consciously employing both traditional and innovative techniques, my unconscious is the undisputed project manager. My passion to 3-dimensional shapes has fueled my creative spirit throughout my life. My choice of beadwork as a primary art medium has followed that same fascination. When evolving, my beadwork seems to always lean towards the building of shapes and forms that are functional and wearable.”

Zoya Gutina







  • Zoya, you are a well-known and internationally recognized bead jewelry artist. You are a participant and a winner of many bead artistry contests and exhibitions, your name as well as photographs of your beadworks can be found in many magazines and on numerous websites. How did this start?  What brought you to this fascinating world of bead art?

When I was a child I decorated my ballet dress with beads but I couldn’t even think that those itty-bitty beads would become the work of my life. I learned sewing, knitting, crocheting and other crafting from my mother, but I didn’t start making jewelry until 2002 when a friend of mine introduced me to beading. I fell in love with beads!


  • Your education is not related to design.  What helped you learn the mastery of beadwork? Have you ever taken any particular classes?

I was born in the Soviet Union and trained as a theater director. This education is not directly associated with jewelry design but it helped me in creativity a lot. I’m a self-taught designer and haven’t ever taken any classes. To tell the truth, 10-15 years ago there was a lack of bead training as well as special literature and magazines. I’m still learning!



  • We often ask our guests about their areas of interest and we are curious, what is beadwork for you: hobby, passion, job, a way to express yourself?

All together! Beading or jewelry making has been my hobby, my passion, my outlet and my way to express myself for a long time; since 2008 when I was juried into the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association it has been my job. My dream came true!


  • Jewelry has always been a subject of fashion industry with its trends and styles, ups and downs. What would you say about the place bead jewelry is taking in fashion now, is it more popular than, let’s say, 10 – 15 years ago?

Now manufacturers offer a wide range of beads and related materials different in colors, size and shape. That allows the artists to create very intricate pieces, and such items attract more and more handmade jewelry lovers. Even not complicated bead jewelry becomes increasingly popular because most of them are one-of-a-kind. Beading is traditionally considered as craft, but there is also fine craft and people say about some bead jewelry items, “Oh, that is true art!”


  • Do you consider beading to be an international craft? Are there any specific features, styles and designs being implemented by the artists from the USA and other countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia?

Beading is as old as men and the first adornments were beads made from shells 100 thousand years ago! Of course, bead craft is worldwide spread, and each culture brings into that its own traditions, motifs, favorite colors and shapes. For instance I noticed that one of the most popular beading techniques in the USA is free form. Likely, that is because freedom is in blood of Americans, who knows?


  • What countries are the artists that you have ever met in your beading career – face-to-face or via the Internet – from?

The list is very long! I’ve met at the shows and made in social networks thousands of friends, and they from all continents (except Antarctica – I’m kidding!). That is a great community with common interests sharing knowledge and experience, and being happy for each other’s’ success.

  •   We know that you have participated in many national and international bead artistry contests. Which of them is the most memorable for you and why?

In 2008 my Midsummer Night’s Dream necklace won First Place in the Celebrating Beads, the journey of… International Jewelry Design Competition hosted by the Bead Museum in Washington, DC, where bead artists from over 14 countries and 33 states took part. The culmination of the competition was The Passion for Beads Gala held at the Naval Heritage Memorial Center. It was really an exciting event, where the contest winners were announced, and the World Premier of Diana Friedberg’s final documentary in her award winning series World on a String, Part V: A Passion for Beads took place. I met many wonderful people at the Gala: four of contest jurors, editors from leading bead magazines, and a lot of contest participants. It was my first such an event, and I can say that the entire experience was necessary, fun, and interesting.


  • We cannot resist asking you, what are your favorite bead jewelry pieces?

In 2008 I won a membership of the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association, and the first artist who shared a studio with me was Nancy Reinke, later on she has invited me to sublease her studio a few more times. Nancy past away two years ago. Short time before her death Nancy made a priceless and beloved gift for me – a few samples of antique passementaries (a sort of decoration like woven lace trims) she found out in her trunk. Sparkling passementaries were made using original antique Czech charlotte beads that were more than a hundred years old, and the idea of my future beadwork came to me immediately: it should have featured the fashion and art trends of that time – Art Nouveau. So, I created Art Nouveau Restored necklace and dedicated it to beloved memory of Nancy Reinke. Last year this my beadwork won the First Place and People’s Choice Award in the International Bead Award Contest hosted by Perlen Poesie Magazine.


  • Many of your works bear so romantic and appealing names.  Are there any particular reasons when naming or stories behind them? Do you think names may be “lucky”?

I believe, a name of a piece is a part of the item, and they “live” together. Thinking of my jewelry as of children I’m carefully picking up my pieces names. I’m not sure about luck, but appealing jewelry titles attract more attention to the pieces.

  •  It can be noticed that you’ve got a lot of followers, and many people from various countries would like to learn bead design skills from you. Do you provide any hand-on or on-line classes?

Unfortunately, I cannot teach in my studio in the Torpedo Factory Art Center because it’s prohibited by our rules. I teach on one-to-one basis and sometimes people come to Alexandria from other states to take my classes. For the last two years in a row I’ve been invited to the Beaders Best Bead Show in Hamburg, Germany to give classes, and all my workshops were very popular.


  • The holiday season is coming, and many people will be considering buying jewelry for their friends and loved ones. Do you already have some special design ideas for this year?

The holiday season is hot time and every year I start getting ready a few month before designing and making small elegant jewelry pieces featuring holiday symbols. This year is no exception, and I’m already working on my beads. Welcome to my studio!


  •  And the last question, what would you wish to yourself as an artist and as a person?  What would you wish to all the people who have some dream and strive to accomplish it?

My wishes are very modest: I’d be happy to have more than 24 hours a day to spend more time in my studio and with my children and grandchildren! I can wish all people to work hard to let their dreams come true.