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Florence Turnour and Gwen Fisher - beAd Infinitum

Florence Turnour and Gwen Fisher
Bead&Button Show 2013


We have both been artistically creative our whole lives, attending countless art courses and avidly reading fine art and craft books. Currently, we are enamored with beaded beads. We use original techniques that are decidedly different than the popular peyote stitch method of making beaded beads, giving our beads a fresh and different look. Like those who use peyote stitch, our main tools are a needle and thread; we do not use any glue or other adhesives.

In our professional lives, we teach and study mathematics. Our training in mathematics has helped us to more easily discover connections between seemingly unrelated ideas and forms, simplify a complicated pattern into its elementary parts, and combine those parts into new, complex forms. Through our work as educators, we have learned how to find the essence of a complex idea and help our students understand it. Likewise, when we develop the pattern for a new design, we concentrate on finding the easiest way to execute the design as well as the best way to communicate it to others. As artists, we take advantage of our education and background; we experiment with color, texture, form, symmetry (or lack thereof), and technique in a systematic way, searching for designs that are simple, elegant and unique.

Artist's Statements

Gwen Fisher's Artist Statement
I weave beads to appeal to people's affinity for organization in design. I use mathematics, including geometry, symmetry, and topology, as an inspiration for the structure of my creations. Across cultures and continents, humans show a natural affinity towards the aesthetic of pattern and order, and my art appeals to this aesthetic in a tactile, tangible form. I have found that people often recognize the repetition and order in my pieces, and so my art appeals to their sense of discovery of the familiar in the unfamiliar.

A remarkable feature of bead weaving is its scalability, and my incarnations are worked at the small end of that scale. I use beads as little as 1.5 mm by 1 mm to build clusters of beads, tiny enough to be worn as jewelry, or just to be carried in a pocket, like a good luck charm. While most of the individual beaded beads that I make are under 5 cm long, their designs have the potentiality to be scaled up to the size of large sculptures, so within their miniature frameworks is the potentiality of skyscrapers, or so I like to imagine.

I design patterns, or instructions, so that other people may enjoy reproducing my bead weaving designs. These patterns are intended to be beautiful objects in their own right. The drawn lines that represent the thread, the placement of the beads in the drawings, the colors, the photographs and layout, these are all important components of a beautiful pattern. Moreover, a pattern should be readable. I want the viewer to gain as much enjoyment from just reading the pattern as from executing it with real beads. The culmination of my written patterns as an art form comes when a viewer, or more precisely, another bead weaver, creates a real beaded bead from the pattern. In this way, the viewer of my artwork is not merely passive, but becomes an active participant in its creation.

Art Publications

Joint publications of Florence and Gwen
  • "Double Daisy Chain" Beading Pattern-a-Day: 2008 Day-to-Day Calendar, Accord, a division of Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • "Spinning Top Beaded Bead" Beading Pattern-a-Day: 2007 Day-to-Day Calendar, Accord, a division of Andrews McMeel Publishing November 2006
  • "Crystal Suspense" Beadwork 9(6), Interweave Press October-November 2006
  • "Color Coded Beads Bead & Button, Kalmbach Publishing, April 2006
  • "Barrel Bead" Step by Step Beads, Primedia Publishing, May-June 2006
  • "Spinning Top Earrings" Step by Step Beads, Primedia Publishing, September-October 2005
  • Kingsley-Heath, Heather. "Maths and Beads (Bio of Gwen Fisher and Florence Turnour)" United Kingdom Bead Society Journal, July 2008, pp. 10-11
Gwen Fisher's Publications
  • "Lotus Necklace" Firemountain Gems Advertisement, Bead Style Magazine back cover, March 2010. See the Lotus Necklace in Gwen's gallery.
  • "Harvest Jewels Necklace" Firemountain Gems Advertisement, Beadwork Magazine back cover, Oct/Nov 2009. See the Harvest Jewels in Gwen's gallery.
  • "Deco Lotus Earrings" Beadwork Magazine, Oct/Nov 09.
  • "Archimedes Star Bracelet" Beadwork Magazine, Aug/Sept 09.
  • Oken, Eni. "Interview with Florence and Gwen" Spring 2009
  • "Amethyst Earrings" (Look for the pattern "Cutie Pie Earrings" in Gwen's Etsy shop), Beadwork Magazine, Dec 08/Jan 09.
  • "Woven Beads", Mathematical Imagery, American Mathematical Society, April 2008 and 2009 AMS Calender.
  • "Inspiration from an Octahedron," Mungbeing Magazine, Issue #16, Fall 2007.
  • Book review of "Making mathematics with needlework: ten papers and ten projects", edited by sarah-marie belcastro and Carolyn Yackel, Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, Volume 2, Issue 2, June 2008, pp. 101-103
  • "An Interview with Gwen Fisher," by Zoya Gutina, Gem and Beaded Jewelry Blog
  • "Woven Beads," Mathematical Imagery, American Mathematical Society, April 2008
  • "Inspiration from an Octahedron," Mungbeing Magazine, Issue #16
  • "Three-dimensional finite point groups and the symmetry of Beaded Beads" including cover, coauthored with Blake Mellor, Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, 1(2), June 2007. Preprint (PDF)
  • "Mathematics Goes High Fashion" Math Horizons, September 2007.
  • "Dahlia Flowers in Mathematics, Nature, Art and Design" Math Horizons 13(3), February 2006
  • "A Method for Illustrating Border and Wallpaper Patterns" Proceedings of the 8th Annual Bridges (Mathematical Connections in Art, Music and Science) Conference (July 2005)
  • "The Quaternions Quilts" including cover, Focus: Newsletter of the MAA (January 2005) Cover Reprint (PDF)
  • "Inspired by Snowflakes: Constructing, Folding, and Cutting Regular Paper Polygons to Create Art with Dihedral Symmetry" coauthored with Nicole Silkton, Proceedings of the 7th Annual Bridges (Mathematical Connections in Art, Music and Science) Conference (July 2004)
  • "On the Topology of Celtic Knot Designs" coauthored with Blake Mellor, Proceedings of the 7th Annual Bridges (Mathematical Connections in Art, Music and Science) Conference (July 2004) Quilt
  • "Serendipity" including cover art, Quiltmaker Magazine (May/June 2004)
  • "Quilt Designs Using Non-Edge-to-Edge Tilings by Squares" Proceedings of the Joint Meetings of ISAMA 2003 and the 6th Annual Bridges Conference (July 2003) Quilt
Publications about Us

Exhibitions, Shows and Presentations

Gwen Fisher's Exhibitions and Shows

January 2012, "Using Tiling Theory to Generate Weaving Patterns with Beads," Contributed Papers Session on Art and Mathematics, Together Again, Joint Mathematics Meetings, Boston, MA PDF

January 2012, "Beaded Star Weaves: Five Bracelets," Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) Exhibition, Boston, MA Exhibit

February 1-23, 2010, Laramie County Community College Art Gallery, Cheyenne, WY, "A Mathematician Weaves Beads"

February 19, 2010, Articulation Conference 2010, Laramie County Community College, Cheyenne, WY, Keynote Speech "How I Use Symmetry in My Art" Flier

University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Mathematics Department Annual Pi Mu Epsilon Talk, "Visualizing Symmetry: How I Use Symmetry Groups in My Art" April 2009. Abstract and announcement

August 3-4, 2007, "Various symmetric beaded beads" Special Interest Group of the Mathematical Association of America-ARTS Exhibit of Mathematical Art, Mathfest of the MAA, San Jose, CA

March 2007, Beaded jewelry show, Art after Dark, Naturally Jennifer's Gallery and Beads, San Luis Obispo, CA

Banff International Research Station, “Innovations in Mathematics Education via the Arts” January 21-26, 2007

March 2006 to present, "The Quaternions Quilt," "D Intersect H Quilt," and the two-sided "Celtic Knot and Squared Square Quilt," Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, Berkeley, CA

January 2006, "Symmetric Beaded Beads" American Mathematics Society's Mathematical Art Exhibit, Annual Joint Mathematics Meetings, San Antonio, TX Image

January 2005, "Symmetry I" American Mathematics Society's Mathematical Art Exhibit, Annual Joint Mathematics Meetings, Atlanta, GA Image

Florence Turnour's Exhibitions and Shows
June 2007, "Twilight" beaded bead necklace, Bead Dreams 2007 (juried competition), The Bead & Button Show, Milwaukee, WI Gallery page

April 2000, "More Than He Can Chew" ceramic birdhouse, Out on a Limb, A National Juried Exhibit, City Museum, St. Louis, MO


Gwen Fisher's Education
Gwen was an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo from 2001-2007.

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin at Madison (August 2001)
Curriculum and Instruction, Mathematics Education (Minor: Mathematics)

M.A., University of California at Santa Barbara (December 1996)

B.A., University of California at Santa Barbara (March 1992)
Mathematics, High School Teaching Emphasis

Florence (Newberger) Turnour's Education
Florence is currently a Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at California State University, Long Beach. Web page

Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park (August 1998)

B.A., University of California at Santa Cruz (June 1992) Mathematics

B.S., University of California at Santa Cruz (June 1992) Geophysics

All images, designs, and text on this site © 2005-2014 Florence Turnour and Gwen Fisher. Permission required for any capture or reuse.
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