Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Innovative tools and glass

In recent years there have been many innovative tools added to our glass beadmaking selection. Some of these innovations in tools have been stupendous and have really helped the art glass bead world, and others, well...................

Some I particularly like are mandrels to make large-hole beads. I don't use them often, but who knows what the future will bring. I can see lots of possiblilities. I love the pattern plates offered by Zoozi. I don't use them in the way they are supposed to be used, but to me they are fantastic and I want MORE. I love the innovative Japanese marver/press/whatever, called a Kote. It is just so convenient and easy to use. The new silver glasses being produced are utterly awesome. It takes practice and perseverence to use these glasses, but some artists have really nailed it.

What else? I like some of the bead molds, like the lentil, but the more definite ones seem to be very restrictive and remind me that using them is producing beads that are more like factory-made beads than artist-made beads.

And speaking of factory-made beads, I have been reminded once again today that one of the glass bead manufacturers in India is also selling lampwork rods to our artists who are not well-versed in determining quality in glass, or who perhaps just don't care. I find it hard to believe that people who put their heart and soul into creating such beautiful and unique glass beads would purchase substandard glass to make them from, but from what is being said I think it must be true.

The glass beadmaking community has always taken great pride in their art, each artist carefully examining glass to select the best possible type to use for what they want to create, fine-tuning their annealing schedules to give the best results, searching for the best torches and tools and kilns and controllers, and now to see all this breaking down over some cheap imported glass is very sad indeed. I suppose that excuses can be made that some of our artists are wanting to get the most glass for their money in this economy, and this glass is somewhat cheaper, but when these beads eventually break, crack or deteriorate, then I wonder if they will feel it is really worth the meager savings. In addition, while they are using this substandard glass, they are also hurting every glass beadmaker, because these beads will fail, next week, next month or next year, and will reflect back on the whole community. Glass beadmakers have always been well-respected for their ingenuity and integrity and with this newest "innovation" of imported glass from India, I see it all breaking down. I, for one, have started stating in my literature that I am using first quality glass and list the country in which it is made. I hope more beadmakers will do this so there is some differentiation being made in buyers' minds.

That's it for today,

Sunday, June 7, 2009

With time to spare - Glass Bead Innovations

A question has been echoing through my mind for the past few weeks. What makes people decide to create glass beads? Is it the money or the art? We all have a choice how we proceed through our life and into the future. If money is the reason you have chosen to follow this muse, then I really feel for you now, as the economy is making it difficult to pursue your chosen path. If, on the other hand, you make glass beads in order to express your artistic creativity, then the economy doesn't make much difference. In fact, I find that it takes the temptation away to simply work on beads I know will sell, and allows me the opportunity to explore the medium more fully than I have in years.

For the past couple of months, giving my imagination free rein, I have been moving on a different path than I have traveled for the past 20 years of glass beadmaking. I wanted to create something different, express myself in a different way. I was inspired by a book authored by Barbara Becker Simon on making PMC beads, looking at the different ways she created beads using that medium, I started forming ideas on how to make a different kind of bead in glass. My first adventure led to the first necklace pictured.

I then proceeded changing some of the components around and
ended up with this second pictured white necklace and
incorporated the first leaf-shaped beads and added another leaf shape.

From the white necklace, I took the one single-leaf component
and created a third necklace that was inspired by the immunity
necklace on Survivor - a statement piece if I ever saw one.

And finally, at this point anyway, I created a fourth necklace
using the simple leaf shape once again, but in a different way.
Although this necklace is not photgraphed very well, all the beads
are very metallic and the whole thing sparkles.
Each of these necklaces have used the one simple
shape, but in different ways.
So, I guess what I really wanted to point
out is that we have to take our opportunities
where we find them and use our creative
spirit to look beyond where we have been and
where we are now. We need to look more to the future. What we create now may start us on a more exciting pathway than we have been on before.