What is it that you make? What kind of materials/mediums do you use?
I make glass beads by melting rods of colored glass over a steel mandrel that has been dipped in clay;
then i combine my glass with semi-precious stones and vintage bits to create little sparkly bits of happiness.
What is your process?
My beads are made one-at-a-time by melting rods of colored glass over the flame of a torch.
This ancient technique, known as lampworking, was a guarded secret process in Italy centuries ago.
In fact, bead makers at one time were almost prisoners, working on the island of Murano. They were threatened with death to their families if they shared the secrets of their glasswork.
The glass I use has been made by the same factory that has been making the same colors for over 500 years!
I often marvel at my luck of working with a modern torch and kiln, with a cat and Netflix by my side, where anyone can visit and see my studio today.
How do you pick your subject matter?
I'm most inspired by nature. I love to make floral scenes, animal beads, ocean scenes, beads with full and crescent moons, and my most recent: bunny beads.
When I make beads, I make variations of the same bead all day, like birds, or dots, or stripes or flowers.
Then the next day I clean them and make them into jewelry.
What is the most important element of what you do?
Keeping the bead hot enough so it doesn't explode as I go in and out of the flame; yet cool enough that it doesn't smear when I apply the next layer of glass to the base bead.
oh yeah, and PATIENCE!
How did you learn this skill?
Practice, practice, practice. I'm not an artist, but I play one in real life.
I believe anyone can make beads if they put in the time.
When people point to a bead and say "how long did that take?" the answer is basically: twenty years and twenty minutes.
I'm so grateful to my husband Parke - without his help and encouragement, I'd never have been able to work with glass- because I used to be terrified of the torch!
I have a lifelong fear of fire; I could only light my torch if he stood next me, and I screamed every single time for the first year.
How has your work evolved over time? Where do you see it going?
When I started, I did a lot of sculptural beads, like crazy weird fishes.
Now I'm mesmerized by the process of making round and lentil shapes, with a design inside or on the surface.
Recently, I have started making "Memorial Beads", which incorporate the ashes of a loved one inside the bead. The result looks like a little universe filled with stars.
Next week I'm attending a 5-day intensive advanced glass workshop in Canada - so who knows what I'll be making when I get back!
Anything else you would like us to know about your work?
This is what i did instead of finishing pharmacy school.
Ease my parent’s pain… but beads today!