Laura Lee Ullrich…Bead Artist
I am a 4th generation Montana ranch woman with a passion for all things beautiful and significant. Because of my rich family heritage, I am surrounded by antiques and photographs that are over one hundred years old. As I spend the days at my home I am always reminded of where I came from. I use many items daily that were used in the late 1800’s. I keeps me rooted and I often wonder how they felt when they used the same items so many years ago. Living in this environment and surrounded by an ever changing Montana landscape, I am continually inspired to create jewelry that reflects these times and appreciates the wealth of stories that accompany every piece!
I make jewelry that I believe will be tomorrow’s heirlooms. I pay little attention to current trends but concentrate on creating timeless pieces of wearable art. Each piece is an original work of beaded art. I use natural stones from the earth like jasper and lapis and malachite as a focal point and then begin to build a story around it with beads and special elements. I always embed a small antique in the beaded story to give it a connection to the past, (a solid foundation to its timeless quality). As I move my fingers through the many colored glass beads I am in awe of the possible combinations. The reflective qualities and how they play against the light and each other mesmerize me. I begin by sketching my design. It is so often inspired by my landscape which includes tall bluffs in the distance reaching up towards an endless Montana sky. A silver ribbon of the Powder River winds through tall Cottonwood trees at the base of the hills. In the foreground are horses grazing next to the deer and turkeys and pheasants. I am always moved by the simplistic beauty of my surroundings. As I sit in my studio and gaze out the window at this pastoral setting, I receive energy and a desire to capture a part of what I see for posterity. My beads are sewn on one bead at a time and stitched into the tapestry that becomes my art. Necklaces, collars, bracelets and brooches take shape before my eyes. Hours later a finished piece emerges. I reflect on the creation and then name the piece. Many of the names are inspired by my maternal Great Grandmother. She was a bead artist and a china painter and I was blessed to wear her wedding dress when I got married, (as did my mother and daughter). I have always felt a connection to her and her chalked portrait hanging in my home is a constant reminder that she is my silent mentor.
All of the jewelry that I make is true and genuine to my rich Montana heritage and my desire to make “Tomorrow’s Heirlooms”. My company, Copper Moon is dedicated to originality, fine craftsmanship and customer satisfaction. I have always had an acute interest in all things beaded and had dabbled in it for many years. I decided I wanted to learn bead embroidery and began to teach myself. Therefore, I may not be a traditional bead artist. I started out teaching myself a little at a time and now my quest is to continue to learn and grow as an artist. The result is original and unpredictable, but always true to my vision. As I progress, I expect to stretch my boundaries even further. I remain just as excited when I start a new piece today as I did when I began. My greatest dream is that my bead art will be worn and loved by many who will then pass it down to their heirs who will treasure it for years and generations to come.