And the Bead Goes On

Of Finish Fetish and Liza Lou's American Glamorama

"The process," Lou explained, "is to build the shapes, then color them, then add the beads. Building is the fun part. The beads end up taking forever. I usually don't want to wait to have big ideas. It's better to just start the work. It's faster and cheaper and the ideas come from doing that. The beads I use are what fashion people would call bugle beads. They come from the Czech Republic. I like them because they've got a sheen and a uniformity so when you get close, you begin to see the individual digits, the units, but when you step back it's continuous. I don't want you to come away feeling that a human did it. It's not like needlepoint, where you always feel the hand, you're aware of the anguish of the hand.

Lou beaded 1 million individual blades of grass for American Glamorama's idealized backyard.
photo: Sylvia Plachy
Lou beaded 1 million individual blades of grass for American Glamorama's idealized backyard.

"I've always loved the California artists whose work had hyperfinished surfaces. They were so idealized that they were over the top. I like to take a surface that's as hard as an auto body, then tweak and tweak it, turn it one more revolution. You may think it's tight enough, but there's always a stronger arm that can turn it again."

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