Archived Featured Bead Artists
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by: Carolyn Jankovskis

 

 

Aimée Kennedy

Toronto, Ontario

www.fineandgood.com

 

Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Aimée Kennedy: 4 yrs

What got you started making beads?
The love of Glass. There is something about the way glass reflects light, I just think it is one of the most beautiful things. I originally wanted to learn to blow glass but found it difficult to sign up for a course, and then realized how expensive it would be to have as a hobby. Then at a craft show I came across Lezlie Winemaker (
www.designsbylezlie.com) and signed up for a class with her.

Were you interested in making beads before that?
It hadn’t occurred to me. I didn’t realize that I could make my own beads. It seems so silly now but it's the truth.

Did you have an artistic or craft history before that? How has that translated into the beadmaking, if at all?
Lets just say that as a child the only way my mom could get me to keep still for more than 5 minutes was to put me in front of an easel with some paint. In high school my focus was in visual arts, theatre and music, then I went to York University to study Sculpture and Design. Since then I have been taking silversmithing classes at various institutes. All during that time I was beading everything, and doing a lot of FIMO, not to mention all the things that don’t relate to jewelry: knitting, crochet, watercolors, pottery and the listgoes on. I love making things, let’s leave it at that.

What has surprised you most about working with glass?
When the glass shocks…ha ha. I guess the thing that surprises me most is that this method of creation has been around for centuries and there is still so much that hasn’t been explored. It’s a tiny bit of science wrapped up in a dynamic creative form.

Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tellme about them.
I don’t have a specific mentor, but there are many people who have helped me along the way. I feel like the community, in Toronto, is growing and there are so many people helping each other. I’d be lost, or floundering, without them.

Whose beads inspire you the most?
That question is hard to answer. Sometimes I surf the web and look around liking the color combination of one or the shape of another. The beads I am most proud of are the ones I come up with, without any direct influence. I come from a fine art background, where imitation is a MAJOR faux pas.

Do you sell your beads?
Generally I sell completed jewelry,but most of the glass pieces are simply a pendant on a chain.

Did you intend to sell your beads when you first started? What got you started selling them?
When I FIRST took the course I don’t think I intended to sell the beads, I was just enjoying myself. It wasn’t until I began to work at a studio, 1 year later, that I really began to make beads which I intended to sell. That summer I entered my first retail art/craft show selling both my silver work and my glass work.

What does your spouse/children/family/friends think of your beadmaking?
I have yet to see an unsupportive reaction. My friends and family love my work, and sometimes fight over it. Just a year ago I quit my graphic design career to focus on jewelry as a full time career (40/60 glass/metal) and I haven’t looked back. Things just keep getting better and better.

What type of glass do you use?
Primarily Moretti but I also dabble in Lauscha, Bullseye, and Boro.

Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
I don’t like to play favorites. Most of the products I use are good for one thing or another. Sometimes you just have to figure out the best way to use something… although I do LOVE the bullseye pinks.

Do you have a favorite technique?
My favorite technique, hands down, is the hot application of glass on sterling silver. I’ve been obsessed with this almost since the beginning. I had designs in my head that were not lending themselves to the “bead” format. With my background in silversmithing it seemed natural to combine the two. I began exploring this technique figuring out the do’s and don’t,which I’m still working on at present.

Are you a “set person” or a “focal bead” person?
I am defiantly a focal bead person but I’ve been known to make a set or two.

Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
I have the most hilarious “fish” I tried to make in my first class, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it but I wanted to try. I treasure it.

How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
When I first started the only thing I would make was large organic focal beads, with many different colors in each, I still make those beads but now I use a lentil press for many of my designs and I often make bead sets only using one color. Part of the reason for this is when I started to sell at shows and to stores I was finding that more conservative pieces were easier to sell. Now I have a whole line specifically geared towards the first time glass jewelry buyer. The pieces are smaller and give focus to the beauty of each color of glass.

Have you had any “glass epiphanies” while working – some revelation or understanding? What were they?
Finally getting striking colors not to burn out at the ends, that was making me crazy for a while. Also when I first started out I was constantly burning colors, now I work in a very short flame, unless I really need a big one.

Do you have a technique, method or tip to share?
Just some cautions about applying hot glass to silver. The melting temp of silver is quite low but if you use a thicker piece you have more leeway with it, the minimum I use is .8mm wire, but the best is the cast pieces, such as my adjustable rings, I haven't melted one yet. Afterward, you'll need to remove firescale and polish the silver after you get it out of the kiln, not fun if you don't have the right equipment. When you first get started please be prepared for some waste, keep in mind I've been experimentingwith this for almost three years and I'm still figuring out some of the rules.


Have you “invented” any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn’t ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?
You are asking me for my best kept secret!!! When I first started out I wanted, but couldn’t afford, a set of “hot hands”. Somehow I figured out that I could use a short plumber snake with the prongs at the end as a substitute, which was a fraction of the price. I still use it today.

How much time do you spend making beads, in, say, hours per week? Is it enough?
I spend a day or two a week on beads, somewhere between 5-11 hours each day. For me there is never enough time for anything, but I’m working on catching up.

What about photographing your beads – what do you use to get your pictures?
I use a point and shoot digital camera with an excellent macro setting, and natural light when I can get it.

Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on? If so, what is the url/id info, etc.
I sell off my website
www.fineandgood.com and I have featured beads up once a month.

Do you sell at shows or in stores or other venues? Do you sellthe beads by themselves, or already made up into jewelry?
I sell wholesale to stores as well as some galleries across Canada. I also do craft shows in Ontario, mostly the Toronto area.

Is this a job, or a passion? Or both? How much of making beads/playing with hot glass is about just making them, vs making a living?
It’s an obsession first, job second, and I hope it stays that way.

Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
Whether it remains a significant part of my sales or whether I do it just to escape, I can see lampworking remaining an important part of my life. I love it and I can create beautiful object. 

Do you have a favorite bead, a “best bead.” Can you share a photograph with us?
I don’t have a favorite bead. But my favorite set to make and for the look are my little pod/nest which I create by blowing the glass.

 

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