October 2007

When it comes to idolizing people I’m not sure I do.  When it comes to idolizing people’s work, I certainly do.  Numerous glass artists inspire me, intrigue me and astound me.

At the beginning of my glass journey I was mesmerized by Jill Symons.  I see her beads as being beauty in simplicity.  She allows one to look into the glass, watch it shine, shimmer and reflect light without many distractions.  The sheer joy of a single color is allowed to stand proud in Jill’s beads.

As I improved and discovered how glass works, I became enamored with technical genius.  Japanese bead artist Emiko Sawamoto has such precision in her work.  Complex cane, murrini and an eye for detail are all things I have grown to appreciate. If I ever feel I have arrived and have little to learn, I’m sure one day attempting these techniques would bring me to a my knees.

Currently I admire and am inspired by the work of Leah Fairbanks.  It is no surprise I love her florals.  Her beads include fine metals, gemstones and colors that keep me wanting more.  One day I do wish to make beads as beautiful as hers.


When I was a teenager Seventeen Magazine was the end all for fashion decisions.  I poured over the back to school issue and dreamed about the outfits I would be wearing.  I knew just what colors were hot and what styles I had to wear.  My school clothes shopping excursion down to the mall in Portland, Maine was a well planed event.

Perhaps this is why sitting down to lunch all alone with Vogue inspires me so.  I pour through the pages and tear out the things that give me wonderful color or design ideas.  I plan bead sets for the upcoming season.  I know what colors are hot and can’t wait to find the right glass to match.

Did you know that all this inspiration is just a dollar an issue?  That’s right; a subscription to Vogue is just one dollar a month.  I find that pretty amazing in today’s economy.  Treat yourself to a magazine subscription of your choice.   I think you’ll find it well worth the money.

I marvel at the bead maker who can grab a technique and have it in one class.  I can’t.  I can take a piece of the technique and the concept of the idea but, it takes me weeks to process and perfect it.  I will never be a class junkie.  I need too much time after the class to figure out what I learned.


I love good old fashioned practice.  Of course, I am a bit obsessive.  I can take a task and repeat it over and over to the point of near perfection. Some may call it perfection, but anyone who can obsess a detail, knows I don’t.  I embrace this personality trait and use it to my advantage.


I suppose this is why I am primarily a set maker.  I want to make 8 or so of the same bead, each one matching the other and fine tuning a skill.  For the first few years of bead making I built on basic skills and added new ones as I could.  My first florals were nothing more than petals.  They have progressed to a more complex version as I master the pieces along the way.


I have reached a point where my new bead designs may incorporate one new skill with a collection of ones I own.  I see my learning style as building blocks.  I add to my base of skills and keep climbing higher.


I realize my approach is not for everyone.  I’m sure there are bead makers who cannot fathom the number of florals I have made.  Yet, I sit at the torch and more often than not I feel it is going to be a floral day.  I love to make floral beads.   Fortunately, my customers love them too.



Last weekend the 8th annual the North American Wife Carrying Championship was held at Sunday River  in Maine. I watched the YouTube video.  At first I began to strategize how my husband and I could win.  But, after witnessing the face first entry into the mud puddle and the red faced, bouncing headed woman, I’m pretty sure I’m not interested.  Besides, if my husband has a heart attack the competitor in me would be tempted to pick him up and carry on!

 A few years ago I witnessed a chicken throwing contest at the annual Moxie Festival.  Don’t worry, the chickens were rubber.   I stood in the crowd planning how best to throw the chicken.  But alas, I was too far away the next year to enter.

How odd am I wanting to compete in bizarre contests?  Perhaps it is the notion we all have a hidden talent.  I just want to share mine.   Don’t you?  How about eating?   Here is a collection of eating contests to check out.  Or perhaps you ride a mean shovel?  Now this one looks fun, the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race.   I am not alone in this fascination.  Eccentric America was written about this very subject.

But I have determined the contest for me is the Odor Eaters Rotten Sneakers Contest in Vermont.  If a 10 year old girl’s 1 year old sneaker can make the judges almost pass out, I’m pretty sure I can take her.  Anyone in my family would be sure to agree.

I sit looking at my pile of fresh clean beads.  My weekly haul of sets to be strung, photographed and listed at various places.  I have such high hopes of using each and every bead.  It never happens.  Sure, some deserve to never see the flash of a camera and go into the boo boo bag I give away with sold sets.  I have come to terms with those and sort them out without angst.


My real trouble is symmetry.  I long for a pretty looking set which lies nicely and evenly for the camera.  When I have a focal and six medium sized beads, I can string them with the focal standing proudly, flanked on either side by three companions.  If I have a set of all the same sized bead, I can easily string up five, six, seven or eight.  But, when I have focal and five medium beads I’m in trouble.  How do I string them?  Two on one side and three on the other of a focal looks so wrong.  One big focal and five following is wrong too.  It’s a dilemma.  Yes, I know, just pull one to give away.  This is ultimately what I do, but not happily.  A perfectly good bead so happy with its family and I uproot it all in the name of symmetry.


Do you know I even have to have the perfect number of spacers to put in these strands?  Crazy, isn’t it?  One little extra spacer just gets thrown in a jelly jar never to find joy in a piece made with its siblings.  An orphan in a container reduced to being pawed over time and again at some show until, it is finally sold off for a mere quarter.

  I wish I could present asymmetrical strands and feel proud.  The idea appeals to my sense of productivity.  But my need for order in a studio full of chaos prevails every time.



Glorious fall color flooded my mind this weekend. My husband and I took the kids up to Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine.  I really noticed the color as we left the interstate in Augusta and drove Rt. 27.  I know it is there every year, and I do see it, but it still is an awesome viewing each fall.


We hiked up one of the trails and I let my mind wander to what it must have been like to live in the area 200 years ago.  I imagined preparing for the long winter and how much work had to be done.  I wondered if people stood looking at the same mountains I did and thought about how amazingly beautiful nature can be.


When we stopped to eat our lunch and got chilly from the cold breeze, I was quite happy munching on a brownie from a boxed mix. My fantasies of being a pioneer woman went flying away on the wings of the wind. While my daily chores may feel monumental at times, I have it pretty good.



Naming work is not a new concept for artists.  But when you are prolific the ideas do start to wan.  I make an average of 12 sets of beads a week.  I name 48 sets of beads a month or 624 sets a year.  Whew, that’s a lot of names!  Where do they come from?

 Most of my sets have a name before I finish.  It is something the colors and shape tell my mind.  Often I pick the colors to work with based on a name I have already determined. But sometimes the colors are very much the same as last week or the week before.  Naming can be tricky.

 One of my favorite designs is floral beads.  I make 3 floral sets a week, sometimes more.  I have favorite petal combinations I use over and over on different base colors.  One petal combination I think of as wild roses.  I vary the version of wild roses in my mind to come up with the set’s name.  Where are these roses located?  When did I see wild roses last and what can I use in the name?  I get names such as Wild Rose Lane, Hampton Beach and Beach Café.

 Every once in a while I get stuck.  The set never tells me its name.  Never fear, I have backup.  My handy paint chips, or clothing catalogs usually save the day.  If I am truly at a loss I use girl’s names.   Now my secret is out.  If you see something named Jessica you know I was down and out in the name department.



  Seaside Cottage


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