Back in 1999, very soon after I arrived to become Winterthur Museum’s curator of ceramics and glass, I bonded with a resident in the lovely Garden, there.  As soon as I laid eyes on him (or her?), I began thinking of him as “my samurai koi.”   For year’s I’ve continued to stop by to visit with him and to have meaningful (to me at least) conversations while he and his comrades circulated throughout their shady pond.

In 2013, a longtime pal, out in British Columbia, Canada, also became entranced with my fishy friend.  The result?  Jeannie’s Koi came into being.  Years later, in 2017, after enjoying his time on the West Coast, the fish made another cross-country swim to his new home in New York City.
Grigsby beadwork sculpture

Grigsby beadwork sculpture









Grigsby beadwork sculpture Jeannie’s Koi

By Leslie B. Grigsby, with woodworking assistance by Lindsay Grigsby

Glass seed beads (peyote stitch), wood, thread

L (approx.): 16″; W (approx.): 11″; H (approx., to top of fin): 6 1/4″

Exhibited (kindly lent by the owner): Loan exhibition. Private Thoughts: Beadwork Sculpture by Leslie Grigsby for the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair, NYC (January 18 [preview] through 22, 2017).

Private collection, New York, NY

Follow the evolution of this sculpture, below.

Koi in Winterthur Garden
Koi in Winterthur Garden Pond

Phase 1: My husband, Lindsay, helped me to carve the wooden body of the koi who, ultimately, would appear to rise out of a pool of water.  I approximated some of the bolder markings on the body by drawing on rough outlines.  Then, I began beading in peyote stitch in about 20 different shades and textures of glass seed beads.  (At this stage, the fish’s proportions looked a bit heavy, but that would change as his fins and the water were completed.)

Phase 2: The koi began to “slim down” in appearance, as I neared completion of the beadwork on his body.  The front fins soon would be enlarged and partially submerged in the water.  The back fins and tail would appear as though they were under the pond’s surface.

Jeannie's Koi in progress (overall)

Jeannie's koi overall 2Jeannie's Koi, top view

Phase 3: The water was well under way, now, and two of three lily pads had been attached near the tail end of the koi.  The tail, eventually, would appear to curl under the water beneath the leaves.

Jeannie's Koi - overall (Leslie B. Grigsby beadwork sculpture)

Jeannie's Koi - tail end detail - red'd (7-5-13)Jeannie's Koi - overall side 2 - red'd (7-5-13)

And here he is, again, once he was completed…

Grigsby beadwork sculpture

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