There are a number of folks who call themselves artists but few who are actual masters of a medium that they worked many years to achieve. In my twenty years of beading, I've learned from many artists but only a couple of masters, Joyce Scott and David Chatt who were major influences from the early days.
When I first started beading I was inspired by the beaded necklaces with peyote stitched crystals as pendants. I was living in the central willamette valley at the time and eugene was the largest town around so I went looking for an instruction book and some beads to make collars for crystal pendants. I found Horace Goodhue's, Indian Bead-Weaving Patterns that had tubuler peyote which taught me how to bead around a cystal and flat peyote with both an even and odd number of beads. I beaded around a few crystals and then decided I'd like to bead around tiny perfume bottles so I did a few dozen of them until I could bead around odd shaped objects pretty well. Around that time, I discovered the japanese tube beads (delicas) and absolutely loved the flat sinuous fabric I could make using them in flat peyote. I got another book by Michael White Own called Flat Peyote Stitch and tried for the first (and close to the last) to follow someone else's pattern. I then got some graph paper and began designing my own patterns. Eventually, I was able to show and sell my work through a local gallery and I felt I was really on my way!
After I had been doing this for a while, someone mentioned Joyce Scott and Ornament magazine did an article on her and I was amazed at what she was doing with 3D peyote that was self supporting (nothing inside to hold it) and the social commentary of her bead work. Here was someone who was using beads as a fine art medium and I was intrigued. I eventually was able to meet her and attend an opening of her exhibit at a gallery in Salem but I never took a class from her....still, I consider her a main inspiration because I began to see the endless possibilities of beads.
A few years later (around 1995) I decided I needed a new challenge and decided to try the right angle weave, made popular, and taught by, David Chatt. David had found an old Russian piece made using 2-needle RAW and had developed it into the single needle RAW and was doing wonderful 3D objects with it. Since David was in Seattle, I was able to contact him and organized a 4-day series of classes to be taught at our visual arts center. It was a great experience and taught me dimensional RAW before there were any how-to books about it except the small pamphlet that david included with his classes.
I began making jewelry using the technique of RAW using vintage charlottes (tiny size 13 Czech beads) and nailheads, which hadn't been made since before WWII. I found more galleries to carry my work and began selling larger pieces and felt I was doing well. But I still kept my "day job", LOL!
So that's the beginning of the story of how I was drawn, step by step, into the fabulous world of beading.