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Gina M. DeStevens

Oswego, NY

gmdcrafts@aol.com

by: Dwyn Tomlinson


Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Gina DeStevens: Since November 2002, so about 2 1/2 years now.

Beading Times: What got you started making beads?
Gina DeStevens: I stumbled upon lampwork beads on the Internet. I think I was looking up seed beads, and came across justbeads.com, and saw the category for lampwork. Out of curiosity, I checked it out and I was instantly mesmerized by what I saw. I checked around and started reading everything I could find on the subject.

Beading Times: Were you interested in making beads before that?
Gina DeStevens: Never heard of beadmaking before that! It's so hard to believe that now! LOL!

Beading Times: Did you have an artistic or craft history before that? How has that translated into the beadmaking, if at all?
Gina DeStevens: I've always had interest in arts and crafts all my life. I graduated high school with majors in art and music. Yes, I think a lot of what I learned in the art classes I took then has influence on my work that I do now. I've also enjoyed beadwork and making jewelry off and on since I was about 18, so once I discovered beadmaking, I could incorporate my own beads into my finished pieces.

Beading Times: Did you take a class?
Gina DeStevens: No, I haven't had the opportunity to take a beadmaking class. Everything I've learned has come from information I've read on the Internet, tips from fellow beadmakers, books, and LOTS of trial and error.

Beading Times: What has surprised you most about working with glass?
Gina DeStevens: I think the most surprising thing for me about working with glass is the fact that only a couple of years ago, I had never even heard of lampworking, or beadmaking, and here I am doing this for a living!

Beading Times: Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.
Gina DeStevens: There are a few beadmakers I consider mentors. I really admire Corina Tettinger. Not only do I appreciate her beadmaking skills, but I admire her passion for her work, and her teaching abilities and willingness to share her knowledge and skills. I've never had the opportunity to take a class from her, but have learned quite a bit through her tutorials and her book. I also look up to Heather Davis. When I was new to beadmaking, she was very generous and shared a few of her tips with me and friendly emails. She also has children, like me, and works from home like I do. I think we share a lot of the same family values/lifestyle.

Beading Times: Whose beads inspire you the most?
Gina DeStevens: Oh, there are so many! But, I have to say the top of the list would be again Corina and Heather, and also Kaye Husko. I'm still only a couple of years into beadmaking, so I've yet to really develop a style of my own, but I find that my work seems to be going in a direction that incorporates a little bit from several artist's influence.

Beading Times: Do you sell your beads?
Gina DeStevens: Yes, I sell on ebay under the ID gmdcrafts, and from my website www.gmdlampwork.com.

Beading Times: Do you make beads for friends?
Gina DeStevens: Yes, I like to give my handmade jewelry to friends and family for things like birthdays, holidays, special occasions, etc. It's so much more special than just store bought presents every time.

Beading Times: What does your family and friends think of your beadmaking?
Gina DeStevens: My family and friends are very proud of me and what I've accomplished so far. Everyone's very supportive — my kids think I work way too many hours, though! LOL!

Beading Times: What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
Gina DeStevens: I use a Minor torch with a propane/oxygen concentrator set up, and I anneal in a Jen Ken kiln with a digital control.

Beading Times: What type of glass do you use?
Gina DeStevens: I use soft glass, mostly Italian Effetre and Vetrofond, but I do occasionally like to use Czech, Lauscha, and once in a while Bullseye.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
Gina DeStevens: Well, like I said, the Italian glass is my favorite. Corina's bead stamps are definitely a favorite of mine (and quite addicting to collect! LOL) for shaping the flattened beads.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite technique?
Gina DeStevens: Lately I've really been exploring the use of color blends, and using different combinations of encased cane (transparent over opaque) for shading floral designs.

Beading Times: Are you a "set person" or a "focal bead" person?
Gina DeStevens: I'm definitely a "set" person, but I do like to make focals once in a while. But, the majority of my work is done in sets.

Beading Times: Have you developed a "signature" bead, a unique type of bead that is recognizably yours. Tell us about it, how you developed it, etc.
Gina DeStevens: I don't think I can say that at 2 years I've developed a "signature" style yet, but I have a couple of bead designs that I've done that I think people recognize as mine. One is my Koi Pond beads. The first one I made was for one of Corina's challenges (for Japan). I wanted to do something incorporating a Koi fish somehow, so I started looking up photos of Koi on the Internet I found one I liked and saved it on my computer. When I went back to look at it some more, I decided to zoom in on the photo, and got a little carried away on the "zoom" — what I saw on my screen was just a portion of the fish, some little floating flowers, water and bits of plants. So THAT'S what I designed into my bead — the fish in my Koi Pond beads have just scales (and A LOT of them!) no head or tail, but your mind sort of "fills in" the rest of the info, and you know right away that it's a fish without actually seeing a whole fish.

Another design I've done recently is the Shoji series — the result of another challenge (at the Bead Hive at ebay). Again, I was working on a design that reflected something representing Japan, and came up with the idea to make beads that look like Shoji screens/lanterns or window treatments. I usually use an alabaster or opalino glass for the base — slightly translucent like rice paper.

 

Beading Times: What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Gina DeStevens: That's easy — space! Beadmaking is taking over my home! LOL! I'm still in the process of overcoming this "obstacle", but I hope to have a proper studio set up soon.  right now I work in a small area in the dining room. Time is another big obstacle — there just aren't enough hours in a day!

Beading Times: What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?
Gina DeStevens: For me, sculptural beads are the most difficult. I do turn out a nice one every once in a while, but anything with "parts" takes me forever to make.

Beading Times: The easiest?
Gina DeStevens: Obviously spacers, but that doesn't really count, right? LOL! I guess just about any of the floral designs I've tried so far have come pretty quickly and naturally for me.

Beading Times: What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
Gina DeStevens: Florals have always been my favorite — both surface design and encased designs. Lately, one of my favorites has been rose beads.

Beading Times: Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Gina DeStevens: Yes, I do still have some of my first beads — I've come a loooong way! LOL!

Beading Times: How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
Gina DeStevens: Since I started, my scroll work has become much more controlled, and I use much finer stringer than I used to. My decorations have become much smaller and more detailed. For example, where I used to only be able to fit 3 or 4 flowers into a 11- 12 mm bead, I'm now putting 8 or 9 in on top of tiny scroll work on a regular basis. I also use many more layers of glass to achieve depth, and to achieve certain colors.

Beading Times: What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Gina DeStevens: I don't think I've had a scary beadmaking experience — hope I never do!! LOL!

Beading Times: Have you had any "glass epiphanies" while working — some revelation or understanding? What were they?
Gina DeStevens: Ahhh, when I finally figured out how to make an encased bead that isn't donut shaped! It all of a sudden "clicked" and made sense to start out with a tiny barrel instead of a tiny round bead — sort of a "duh" moment.

Beading Times: Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?
Gina DeStevens: I get a lot of emails from fellow beadmakers asking me if I decorate my beads before or after I press them into a flattened shape, so this is probably a good place to mention this. I decorate my base bead with scrolls, flowers, etc., melt in ALMOST all the way, and THEN press the decorated bead while the bead is soft, but not super molten/drippy. The reason I don't melt all the decorations completely smooth and flat, is because this seems to help prevent distortion when pressing.

Beading Times: How much time do you spend making beads, in, say, hours per week? Is it enough?
Gina DeStevens: I'm at the torch probably about 4 – 5 hours/day. Is it enough? NEVER! LOL!

Beading Times: What about photographing your beads — what do you use to get your pictures?
Gina DeStevens: Nothing fancy — I just use a piece of gray cardstock for the background, my desk lamp and flash for lighting, and my Kodak digital camera to take the pictures.

Beading Times: Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell your beads on? If so, what is the url/id info, etc.
Gina DeStevens: I post all of my beads on my website at www.gmdlampwork.com, where you can find "New sets available on ebay," my "specials" page, and "finished jewelry." Specials and finished jewelry are available to purchase immediately directly from me, and for those that enjoy bidding on ebay, each photo on the "New sets available on ebay" page clicks directly to the auction page.

Beading Times: Do you sell at shows or in stores or other venues? Do you sell the beads by themselves, or already made up into jewelry?
Gina DeStevens: Presently, I'm mostly selling on the Internet, but I've been thinking about checking out a few stores. Most of my sales are bead strands/unfinished jewelry, but I do occasionally sell finished jewelry as well.

Beading Times: Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
Gina DeStevens: I plan to continue to improve and refine my beadmaking skills, and sell my work.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite bead, a "best bead." Can you share a photograph with us?
Gina DeStevens: I think my favorite would be my first Koi Pond bead. It's not necessarily the "best" bead I've ever made, but I think it would be my favorite. It's the first design I made that got me a little "recognition" and attention.


Beading Times is pleased to present a monthly article spotlighting a lampwork bead artist. If you, or someone you know is interested in being featured, please contact dwyn@beadingtimes.com.

Copyright 2005 Dwyn Tomlinson. Photos by and copyright by the interviewee, unless stated otherwise.