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Tokay Beaded Art: Inside America’s Only Beaded Art Gallery

front of Tokay Gallery-1“Bead work in art form is the soul of the artist,” according to Juanita Finger, owner of Tokay Beaded Art in Roswell, New Mexico. Finger is living proof that beads can be used for so much more than jewelry.

In her 25 years as an artist of beaded sculptures and tapestries, Finger saw the need for a bead-centric art space.

“I couldn’t find a place to adequately display or sell my work, never quite getting it across that bead-work can also be art. I felt that I couldn’t possibly be the only artist with this same problem. So, I decided that I would open an art gallery solely for beaded art,” Finger said.

Tokay Beaded Art opened in late January 2016.

Finger shared the story about this unique art gallery with AllFreeJewelryMaking.com on CraftPaperScissors. (We were lucky enough to meet her at the Bead & Button show! Read about jewelry making trends we saw there, too.)

Inside the Nation’s Only Beaded Art Gallery

What makes bead work an art form?

What makes bead work an art form, is a hard question to answer. All art is the passionate work of the creator of the piece. Bead work in art form is the soul of the artist. Each piece an artist creates consists of a little bit of the artist. Bead work takes hours to design and finally more hours to bead the piece.

Juanita Finger at the opening of her beaded scuplture, 'Medusa' at Tokay Beaded Art.

Juanita Finger at the opening of her beaded sculpture, ‘Medusa’ at Tokay Beaded Art.

What makes Tokay Beaded Art unique?

Tokay Beaded Art is the only art gallery in the U.S. that is uniquely for displaying beaded art in all it’s forms. This includes jewelry, sculptures, tapestries etc. All submissions must have 80 percent or more beads. The beaded art is selected by jurying process and exhibited and for sale.

How do you work with artists?

Any artist that is interested in exhibiting in the gallery completes and application available on our website, BeadedFinger.com, and email it along with photos of the piece they want to exhibit. The piece goes through a jury process with select jurors from around the country. They grade the piece and if the piece receives a high enough grade, then I offer the artist a place to display the art piece for 6 months. The artist sets the price of their piece and maintains ownership until sold. After 6 months, if the piece has not sold, the artist and I discuss either extending the exhibit or sending it back to the artist. The piece of art is also shown on our website.

What are the most interesting pieces that have come through your gallery?

The most interesting piece is “Medusa”, a life size head of this character from Greek mythology. We also have two beaded unique space ships among other exclusive works.

'Medusa' by Juanita Finger

‘Medusa’ by Juanita Finger

What are the most interesting classes you’ve hosted?

We host various classes at the gallery. There is an ongoing series of classes teaching the basics through advance. We have had one guest instructor so far in our 6 months of being open. Margo Yee from Albuquerque gave a class on making a focal point in your necklace. We continually search for guest instructors. Our website or Facebook page will have announcements all future events. Amy Loh-Kupser from I-bead.com will be holding a trunk show and teaching class in November 2016.

Margo Yee from Albuquerque hosts a jewelry class.

Margo Yee from Albuquerque hosts a jewelry class.

What inspires you as a bead artist?

An artist can be inspired by all kinds of things, I have one piece that was inspired by a ceiling painting in a Mexican restaurant in Chicago. After being inspired, I had to design the piece which meant sketching the design out and then working with the beads to get the proper shape and colors to work as one to complete the design. This takes many hours of stitching to complete. When completed, the piece is one of a kind and has a bit of the the artist.

Interested in trying some bead art? Check out these free projects from AllFreeJewelryMaking.com.


What inspires you?