Valerie Hector


I opened my jewelry studio in Chicago in January of 1988. Since then I have worked to develop an aesthetic that blends economy of form with lushness of surface finish. I am self-taught in my twin fields of bead-netting and metalworking, and always trying to hone my skills. For inspiration I look as much to the arts of other cultures as to the tops of the tables in my studio, where forms can fall together by accident, inviting new combinations. Sometimes I feel like an engineer or an architect as I build beaded forms and the armatures to support them.

Since 1995 I have also maintained a scholarly practice, researching and writing about beadwork history. Recent publications include “Bead Netting and Plaiting Techniques in the Peranakan World,” “Mainland Chinese Export Beadwork,” and “Beaded Shop Signs in Republican Beijing (1912-1949).” (Downloadable PDFs of these articles are posted on my website,

Inevitably, the old pieces and techniques I encounter in my research inspire me to try out new ideas in the studio. I like feeling connected to makers of the past and incorporating their ideas in my work, integrating past and present, knowing that I am one of the many.