HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING GLASS WORK?
I started lampworking in about 2007, after having been a (part-time) potter for about 40 years. I’ve always worked in the art field, at galleries, museums, and other arts organizations. Now I am a retired graphic designer. But I still really like making things. When I started in glass, as a former potter, I assumed I would gravitate toward making functional objects. But I found that I prefer the freedom to just play with glass and bead designs and make whatever I want.
My work starts with individually made lampwork beads that I highlight in one-of-a-kind wearable art jewelry. The pieces have a recognizable style, featuring bold, distinctively graphic designs, giving each one a unique personality. I do not make the same pieces over and over, as I am always learning and practicing new techniques and color combinations. I strive for design cohesion and technical perfection in my work.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN GLASS?
When I realized I wasn’t going into my clay studio very much any more I decided to try other things and I took a couple of fusing classes. I realized my existing pottery kiln would not work for melting glass. But with my first bead making class I was hooked. In fusing the magic happens when you aren’t looking. The immediacy of the process of lampworking is really appealing.
I can make sets of beads that match, or make every single bead a different size, shape or style according to my mood. While there are always surprises upon opening the kiln after annealing, it’s negligible compared to the joys and disasters experienced upon opening a ceramic kiln. I like being confident that what I put in will be what comes out.
DO YOU HAVE A PRIMARY TECHNIQUE OR LOOK THAT YOU ARE KNOWN FOR?
Not necessarily, but pattern really appeals to me. I make beads in many styles. I enjoy making sets of beads with varying
patterns in the same color range and combining them in jewelry. I add elements of silver or onyx to the pieces to further emphasize the beads and to give each piece a unique personality. It was never my aim to make jewelry, but I find that I really enjoy it. It uses a different part of the brain, and is quite satisfying. I usually make beads that I like and then decide which beads go with others, old or new, then put them together — design ideas coming as I work on the jewelry. I also make tiny glass mobiles. It’s a challenge to make them balance, and great fun. But the mobile arms are quite small, because they are made on wires that have to be thin enough for me to bend. I’m trying to figure out how to make them more visible.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT DOING GLASS AND
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND MOST CHALLENGING?
I enjoy the limitless possibilities in glass. There are so many colors! So many techniques!
I can keep learning and honing my skills, and never run out of ideas to try. It’s challenging to have an idea I can’t quite realize to my satisfaction, but I keep working on it, and even if I never achieve perfection, I learn something new anyway. Some colors react with others in interesting ways. Certain types of glass, mostly the “silver-reactives,” are expensive and challenging to master. But the results are worth the struggle. Silver-reactive glass can have rainbow, oil slick, iridescent or other beautiful effects and the beads have great depth.