The Herald Bulletin

April 13, 2013

Beads and banter at Anderson Center for the Arts

By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Laughter and banter are staples in the downstairs meeting room at the The Anderson Center for the Arts, at least when Jan Johnson is there to teach a class.

It’s that mix of fun and learning that drew repeat students back last week to put their heads together around a table littered with beads and small hand tools. It was the first evening of Jan Johnson’s bead and wire earrings class.

“She’s a good teacher,“ said Suzy Elliott, who has taken a number of Johnson’s classes. “She gives really good instructions. ...We have a good time learning.”

In fact, Elliott was wearing one of her own beaded necklaces, and she removed the colorful piece to show the details to her classmates. Deborah Stapleton, director of the Anderson Center for the Arts, was among the students admiring Elliott’s creation.

The arts center is at 32 w. 10th Street in Anderson.

Johnson provided all the supplies for the evening’s work. The focus was on wire wrapping, with the ultimate finished product to be a pair of sparkly, beaded earrings. As the group set about selecting their beads and wires, friendly chatter and stories began to flow.

“It’s just fun,” said student Arlene Ellingwood of Johnson’s bead classes. “She’s very knowledgeable. I’ve made a lot of really nice necklaces.”

Johnson has been teaching bead weaving classes for about 10 years. This week marked the first wire wrapping class she presented at the center.

Johnson discovered her creative passion after an entirely different career. She sold real estate for 20 years, and worked as a relocation director in Alabama,

“When we moved to Indiana, I just kind of got interested in the bead things,” Johnson said. She started out with a few classes to learn the techniques. She eventually went to Chicago for more advanced training from internationally known instructors.

“It’s just been a process,” said Johnson.

Johnson founded the Indiana Bead Society in 1998, now about a hundred members strong. While serving on the faculty at the Indianapolis Art Center, she was approached about offering classes in Anderson.

“I like it a lot. I really have a good time there. Everyone’s so friendly. All the students have been fun,” said Johnson, who now instructs frequently at The Anderson Center for the Arts. She noted that the social aspect of the classes is a big part of the attraction, but the beadwork itself is also key. “It’s artistic expression.”

The bead and wire earrings class is one of several early spring offerings at the Center with a shorter class term of only three or four weeks. Samson Hunckler is teaching portrait photography in an adult class. Diane Burrell is teaching oil pastels.  Kids 11 to 14 are learning beginning/intermediate drawing with Stephanie Cochran.

The center is located at 32 W. Tenth St. in downtown Anderson. For more information about classes, workshops and exhibits at The Anderson Center for the Arts, check out the website at or call 649-1248.