Friday, July 8, 2016

I was a fan of lampwork long before I was a lampworker

And before I was a fan of lampwork, I was a fan of glass in general. But let me back up a bit.

In the summer of 2000,  as part of the continuation of my husband's training, we had just moved from a 3 bedroom house in North Carolina that I loved, and a job that was my favorite I had ever had, to a 2 bedroom townhouse in Cincinnati with a 2 year old and a job that was my least favorite ever (I'm still on "maternity leave" from that job...ok just kidding. I went back PRN temporarily after my daughter was born in 2001. Then I outright quit because it sucked so bad.) Anyway, I ended up taking a class in making a stained glass panel a few months after we moved there so I could get out of the house, create something, and maybe meet new people.

I didn't really make friends there because they weren't serious enough about glass(!), but I did become completely obsessed with everything glass. I began taking every class available in the area, including fusing classes. I read books and everything I could find online. Eventually I discovered lampworking and desperately wanted to try that. However, I had a couple hurdles to overcome in order to have a set-up in my house. In the meantime we moved again and I began collecting other people's lampwork beads. Once I finally had my own set up, I stopped doing all other forms of glass and concentrated on beadmaking because I loved the process so much. I have a TON of other artists' beads and continue to collect them. I keep them on a shelf in my studio to admire and aspire to.

I thought it might be fun to share a few of my favorite glass art beads. Trust me when I tell you this is just a small representation of what I have. In addition, I took short videos (the longest is about 15 seconds) of some of the beads so you can get a better idea of WHY they are so amazing. It's the closest thing to seeing them in person, although still not completely accurate.

First up is a goddess bead by Kate Fowle Meleney.  Kate's class "Is this glass?" was one of the first classes I ever took, and is where I purchased this bead from her. I learned so much from her, especially about experimentation and being relaxed about the process. This goddess reminds me a bit of the Venus of Willendorf, which I only just learned about a year ago in Art History class. Kate's goddess has an electroformed necklace and a surface texture as a result of enamels.

Here's a still photo of the goddess bead:

Next up is one of my favorites because it is part alien, part elephant (alienphant), who is covered in flames, and making a bead. What's not to love? The name the artist goes by is Plum Loco, and unfortunately I cannot find a website link for you. A Facebook friend mentioned Loco is no longer working in soft glass and is currently doing functional borosilicate glass pieces. 

Another artist I took a class from is Kerri Fuhr. Her work is unbelievable! I bought this bead and also a dragonfly bead during the class. I learned some interesting tips from Kerri, even if her style isn't really my style of working. I appreciate learning from others because it only enhances my own work. 

And here's a photo of of it sitting in my hand.

This next bead is actually my most recent acquisition. Translation: Lydia is still making beads similar to this. The depth is amazing and this is a bead I might actually consider wearing because it's so stunning. While she does have a website, I recommend visiting her Facebook page and liking it

A still photo of this bead:

I adore the meanie beads by Patty Lakinsmith. So much personality that I had to have one for myself. 

The next artist is very special. She will tell you she is "not a bead maker," but she could've fooled me... I own several beads and small fused pieces by Melodie, and she is crazy awesome and perfectionist. 

Lisa Atchison was one of my very first bead buddies. She is probably the nicest person I've ever known, but she's also pretty darn amazing at making beads. Her electroforming is perfection, so delicate and artistic.

I own several Michael Barley beads. I'm not quite sure how I acquired so many. I know I bought a couple and maybe won a couple during classes....anyway, here's one of them. Michael's class is awesome. He is super laid back and down to earth and very generous with his techniques and recipes and how to get glass to do some super cool things. He also reminds me of  my Uncle Pete. 

Apparently I mostly collect beads from people I've taken classes with....I purchased this bead during a two day class with Andrea Guarino-Slemmons several years ago. Another amazing class with another amazing teacher. Someday I hope to take a class with her at her home studio in Port Townsend....someday. Her beads have so many layers with things to see below the surface. 

About ten years ago, a small group of women did a miniature retreat down in Orlando, Florida. One of the women (Melodie Triche), donated the use of her points to rent a Disney condo that fit all of us. Kim Vredenberg made each of us one of these electroformed dichroic Mickey beads to commemorate the retreat. The dichro is like the fireworks that are set off in the parks each night.

The next bead is one I won by guessing who it's supposed to represent (the one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater) created early in the bead making career of Rebecca McGlynn, which sadly seems to have ended at some point. She was also part of the small group of women who did the retreat in Orlando, Florida. I own several beads by her, this one just happens to be my favorite because it's so silly.

Next up is this vignette by Jennifer Geldard. I own a few of her beads, but this is my absolute favorite. The birds do come off the driftwood, and feathers come out if I ever wanted to break it up and make something with the birds. But that will never happen. 

I always gave my daughter a hard time because she would make such a fuss over Lauren's beads. She probably owns more of Lauren's beads than mine. And mine she keeps giving back to me because she doesn't like them any more (DUH! I made those things in my first couple weeks of lampworking!) Anyway, I bought this one for myself because I just love pirates and this little guy's peg leg. 

And the last bead from my collection that I'm going to share is by the super talented and super cute JC Herrell. When I took a class with her, she looked like Pippi Longstocking. I just love her use of enamels, especially in rainbow colors. Because RAINBOW!!!! Her techniques are the ones I think about trying in various methods when I dream about making beads. 

So that's it...a few of my favorites from my private glass bead collection. This is maybe half of the glass bead collection? Maybe less than half...However, when it comes to art beads in general, I am a definite hoarder. I've even gone as far as to ask my friends to stop sending me new beads until I use up some that I have. Maybe next time I'll share some of the collection. 


  1. wow, these are magnificent! and you say there are more of them? :D

  2. Stuning and beautiful treasures! Thanks for sharing!

  3. WOW!!! What a treat to go through the list and read your anecdotes to go with the beads. Amazingly talented bead makers! Thanks for sharing!


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