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Sue Von Ohlsen

Master Beader


Beaded psuedosphere, with infant, by Sue Von Ohlsen.

It has always delighted us how much each Reef Contributor stamps their own style onto their forms, but nothing prepared us for the sheer splendor of Sue Von Ohlsen's work. Sue is a beader, as well as an expert knitter, and after reading the IFF book on crocheting hyperbolic forms she decided to make beaded pseudospheres. The objects that result are shimmering petals of byzantine splendor in metallic hues of blue, green and violet. Sue uses graduated tones of glass beads that appear to change color organically. Heavy in the hand and unbelievably luscious, these are among the most beautiful models in the Reef. Though they are beaded not crocheted, Sue followed Dr Taimina's algorithms precisely.

Beaded masterworks by Sue Von Ohlsen and Rebecca Peapples in "The Beaded Reef" at The Hayward gallery in London (Summer 2008).

Sue creates her models with a beading stitch called "gourd stitch" which results in a kind of fabric that mirrors the structure of crochet. Yet if the algorithmic translation from one medium to another was relatively straightforward, the practical challenges here are significant. This exquisite body of work represents hundreds of hours of extremely patient and detailed labor.

Set of beaded pseudospheres by Sue Von Ohlsen made from graduated shades of metallic beads. Studio photos by Chris Schwaner.

Sue describes her life-long engagement with beading and other fine handicrafts as follows:

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1956 and have been doing needlework of all types since I was a child. I am completely self-trained and taught myself beadwork in the 1960's when my Grandma gave me her leftover beads to play with. My work has been in Beadwork Magazine twice (once on the cover!) and I have been in several international juried bead art shows, winning a few awards in the process. I am a certified Master Knitter and I teach knitting classes at a shop I now own called The Knitting Corner in Virginia Beach, VA.


Beaded anemone at left, and infant pseudosphere (right).

Sue's work seems naturally to belong in the sea; with its irridescant colors and shimmering, watery, textures it could not be more perfect for a coral reef installation. Sue also makes jewellery and below is an exquisite beaded hyperbolic bracelet she designed. Her work is truly stunning and she is happy to take commissions.

Beaded hyperbolic bracelet by Sue Von Ohlsen - an adornment fit for a sea queen.