Monday, September 7, 2015

Beading with JC Herrell!

During the crazy last month of summer, I was able to fit in an intensive class at the Pittsburgh Glass Center.  I won a juried partial scholarship to take a class of my choice - I had already signed up to take the intensive class JC Herrell was teaching, so yay!

JC making a demo bead

Intensive classes at the Pittsburgh Glass Center mean 5 full days, 9-5, of learning and making beads with an awesome lampworker.  Most people also stay later, up until 10pm if they wish.  I, however, can never do that.  By 5pm I am pretty much done!  I never (get to) make beads for an 8 hour day, and that's just too much for me!

JC's class was called Color, Form and Line.  If you don't know JC's beads, here's some examples:

These are the beads in my own personal collection; they were purchased quite a long time ago:

The class was about enamels, how to use them, how to form a great bead, and how to do that awesome stringer work! We learned how to make some of her signature beads, including a poppy bead, a waterlillies bead, a tree bead.  How to use the enamel sifter the correct way, how to make those lines. 

Our very first exercise was - make a bead that's in your head using enamels, lines etc.  Then at the end of the week, the last exercise was to make that bead again, using the skills that we've learned throughout the week.  Here are my first "head beads"!

What was I going for?  The symbol is a Japanese Torii gate.  The colors to me were Asian, and the form was to look like a Japanese lantern.  Unfortunately, I had to miss the very last class because I was going to Scotland, but I'll make a bead soon, in my new interpretation, and show you when I finish it!

Here are some examples of JC's beads and mine - wonder if you can tell the difference???

JC's Tree Bead and Starry Night Bead 

My tree bead - not too bad!

My Starry Night Bead - more starry than night...

 My fade beads - fading the enamel from light to dark/dark to light.  Trying to get the form.
My waterlillies bead - not great, but pretty good.  I'd use it for a fan pull!

All in all, I very much enjoyed this class. I almost never do stringer work, because I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, and if I can't finish my line without getting that "dot" at the end, I don't like it! But I think with the skills I learned from JC, I will try again. I very much enjoyed using the enamel sifter and some of the tips and tricks she gave us regarding making enamel stringer and how to get that fade or ombre look. I also very much appreciate the time it takes to get that perfectly formed bead - I learned a lot about taking my time and how to finish the ends of beads! I hope when I get time in the near future to put these skills to use!

Here's a bead I purchased for my daughter:

And how lucky am I?  I WON this bead in the raffle at the end of the class!

I haven't taken an intensive class at the Pittsburgh Glass Center for well over 6 years, and I'm glad I did.  In my next post, I'll be able to show you my work from a Polymer Clay class I am taking with Heather Powers at Andrew Thornton's place, Allegory Gallery!  I look forward to even more fun!

Susan Kennedy


  1. Glad you enjoyed the workshop Sue -all the beads here are lovely.

  2. Sounds like an amazing class full of good learning. Its so invigorating take classes. It will be fun to see where this leads you.

    1. Thanks Linda - still in my slump... so I hope it helps!

  3. Oh my what beautiful beads you made, I LOVE the fade ones but that waterlillies bead has got to be my favorite! Looks like you had lots of fun and how lucky that you won one of JC's beads!

  4. Love your beads. The tree one made me think of fall and the starry night one has lots of texture. I know their not quite what you were going for but their great.

  5. How fun! Lucky You :)
    I bought my first bead from JC last year in Tucson at the Gem Show, it's beautiful. Her stringer work is just amazing !
    Your beads look great !!

    1. Thanks Terr - it was a great class and she is a class act!


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