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by Carolyn Jankovskis

Marilyn Peraza

North Carolina, USA

 www.perazabeads.com


Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?  
Marilyn Peraza: Approx. 7 ½ - 8  years

What got you started making beads? 
I have been making jewelry ever since I can remember.  It got to a point that I wanted to have one-of-a-kind beads as focals for my pieces to make my jewelry designs unique.  The only way I could get exactly what I wanted was to make them myself.


Were you interested in making beads before that?  
Absolutely.  However, I was making various types of clay beads.  I found an article in a magazine showing how to make enamel beads.  I decided I would have to look into this further since making the beads from glass fascinated me.  That is how I found lampwork beads.  That was the beginning of my addiction!



Did you have an artistic or craft history before that? How has that translated into the beadmaking, if at all? 
I have been crafty since a very young age.  My first oil painting was at the age of 8, and I had always made jewelry!  My father worked with the phone company, so he would bring home the colored wire, and I would make jewelry out of that for myself and my friends.   I now find myself using the glass rods as paint brushes to design the florals on my beads.  The scrolls once made from wire are now made of glass stringer to create my Victorian style designs and vine work on my beads.


Can you share a photo of some of your other works with us?   
I don’t have photos of other art work (at least not readily available to share).  


Did you take a class?  
I took a boro class about 4 years into lampworking.  Although I can’t say that I learned anything from it as it wound up being more of a demonstration then a “class.”   Other than that I am pretty much self-taught.


What has surprised you most about working with glass? 
I think the most surprising thing for me about working with glass is the way you can control it and actually shape it just by using gravity.  Some of the beads I thought would be the hardest to make have turned out to be the easiest by allowing gravity to “have its way.”  


Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.  
Not really.  Most of my learning was trial and error.  The first book I used when I purchased my hot head torch was by Cindy Jenkins.  So if anyone should be called my mentor, it would have to be Cindy.   


Whose beads inspire you the most?   
I am inspired by numerous artists, but I think the very first bead I purchased by an artist in Hawaii was most inspiring.  My main inspirations now are the flowers of nature and anything Victorian.


Do you sell your beads?  
Yes.  I do.


Did you intend to sell your beads when you first started? What got you started selling them? 
I really planned on using the beads in my jewelry designs at first.  After having numerous requests for just the beads, I started to sell them loose and my jewelry designs have taken a back seat.


Do you make beads for friends?  
I do, but usually they are going into jewelry designs for gifts.  



What does your spouse/children/family/friends think of your beadmaking? 
My friends and family think that it is great that I can do something for a living that I really enjoy.  My hubby is my biggest supporter though.  He is amazed at times at some of my work and encourages me to push the limits.


What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.) 
I am now working with a Beta torch, oxy generator and propane mix.  My kiln is an Aim kiln which I have had since I started making beads.  


What type of glass do you use?  
I use a variety of glass including Effetre, Lauscha, Bullseye, Rocio and also play with Boro from time to time.  


Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.   
My favorite tool is my brass pokers.   


Do you have a favorite beadmaking book or piece of instructional material (video, etc.)?  
My favorite book is called Making and Marketing Better Work by Milan Townsend.  It is one of the best books I have seen written on the subject.  I have almost every book there is on glass bead making and this book is by far the best of what I own.


Do you have a favorite technique?  
I can’t say I have a favorite technique.  I’m always trying new things when making beads, and the techniques for each “new” style are usually very different from the last.  Since I always find myself going back to the raised designs using stringers, I suppose that would be considered my favorite.


Are you a “set person” or a “focal bead” person? 
I’m more of a focal person - although I like to get my share of sets made too.  It’s just harder for me to make sets because by the time I’ve made the first bead, I’m ready to move onto something else.  Each time I sit down at the torch, I have so many ideas running through my head and I want to try all of them.  Sometimes I find something that is easy to re-make several times – not that the technique is necessarily easy, but that I found something I’m really having fun making, and I will make a set at that time.


Have you developed a “signature” bead, a unique type of bead that is recognizably yours. Tell us about it, how you developed it, etc.  
I think my sculptured rose beads are my first “signature” beads, with my Victorian style beads and glass toggles becoming recognizably mine too.  As a former specialty cut flower grower, I had a strong desire to make roses.  I made my first roses on my hot head and have been making them since.  The Victorian style beads and toggles just evolved over time.    





What was your biggest obstacle to overcome? 
My biggest obstacle was actually lighting the torch.  I still get butterflies in my stomach when I go to light it up.  Once it’s lit though, the sky is the limit!  


What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you? 
The hardest bead for me to make was my clown beads.  Making faces with intricate detail is very difficult because each time you go back into the flame to keep your bead warm or to melt in - say the cheeks, well you usually melt in everything else at the same time and you find yourself re-doing many of the details numerous times before you get it right.  



The easiest? 
The easiest beads for me are the floral beads.  


What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?  
The combination of flowers and Victoriana are my heart.  I love the romance and elegance.     


Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now? 
Oh my.  I do have a box of beads from my beginner days.  I don’t look at them much, but when I do, I realize how much I have grown as a bead artist.  Although I recall being very proud of them when I first made them!


How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?   
My beads have changed over the years in technique and skill.  I started out with a desire to make floral beads - and like I said, I’m always drawn back to that.   However, over the years, and as my skills improved, I aim for elegance in my beads.


What was your scariest beadmaking experience?   
The scariest experience is the day I was making beads with my hot head and didn’t have the ventilation I thought I had.  I wound up in the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.    


Have you had any “glass epiphanies” while working – some revelation or understanding? What were they? 
The revelation I had was using gravity as a tool.  Whether round beads or other designs with bumps, etc., gravity can play a big part in getting what you want from your glass!  Once you get to know the flow of the glass, so many things are possible just by using gravity.    




Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?  
I do have a tip.  When I first started making beads, I would get my bead off the mandrel, and then clean each mandrel of the excess release individually.  I found that if I hold all of my mandrels together and roll them in my hand while under water, the mandrels rubbing against each other remove all of the release from the mandrels in one shot!    


Do you listen to music when you work, or prefer complete silence? If you listen to music what is your favorite type of music or artist to listen to? 
I do listen to music.  My favorite music is from the mid to late 60’s and early 70’s …  Tommy James, The Guess Who and Stevie Wonder – all of the artists from that time period bring back such wonderful memories – I love them all!


Do you have any advice or encouraging words for someone who is just starting out in glass?   
Obviously, the most important thing in this craft is safety.  Make sure you take every precaution to ensure proper ventilation - - it is so important!   Read up on what proper ventilation is, and make sure you have it right before your start!


Have you “invented” any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn’t ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking? 
No new tools, but I do have a dvd out on the market - The Sculpted Rose.


Could you share with us some pictures of your studio set up? 
I do not have photos to share.  I am in a temporary studio in my garage right now, but plan on re-building a professional studio again once we purchase our new home.


How much time do you spend making beads (in hours) per week? Is it enough? 
Right now I’m spending less than 20 hours per week.  It is not enough, but being in my temp studio in the garage, the heat is too much to torch.  When I have my own studio with a/c and heat built in, I could easily spend 40+ hours making beads.


What about photographing your beads – what do you use to get your pictures and do you have any tips or tricks to share?  
I’m using a Nikon Cool Pix.   Make sure your camera has a macro setting for taking those close-up photos.   I get my best photos in natural morning lighting.  Tip- try taking photos in various settings and lighting to see where you can get your best results.  


Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on? If so, what is the url/id info, etc.  
My website is www.perazabeads.com
I sell mostly on the Annealer Auction Boutique – www.lampwork-auctions.com
And sometimes on Ebay.

Do you sell at shows or in stores or other venues? Do you sell the beads by themselves, or already made up into jewelry? 
I do sell beads and finished jewelry at some shows, but not on a regular basis.  I try to keep everyone informed by putting the show dates and locations on my website.  I also have beads at a couple stores, in Florida and in NC.



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? 
This is both for me.  90% of this is about just making beads for my pleasure – then I sell what I have made from my passion to supplement my family’s income.  The other 10% is usually filling custom orders and is strictly for making a living.  Although I don’t particularly care to make custom orders because I feel that the creative enjoyment is somehow lost in the process, so I keep it to a minimum.


Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?   
Lampworking and glassworking has already taken me to new heights.  I have a fairly successful dvd on the market, I started a printed magazine (The Annealer Magazine - http://www.theannealermagazine.com/) dedicated to self-representing glass bead artists and lampwork jewelry designers with a companion website, the Auction Boutique (with over 700 members) – a dedicated venue for glass artists and people who use glass in their designs; a discussion board; and a blog.  I would like to do more instructional dvd’s in the future.


Do you have a favorite bead, a “best bead.” Can you share a photograph with us? 
Yes, my pleasure. 

 




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 sandy@beadingtimes.com.

Copyright 2006 Carol Yntema. Photos by and copyright by the interviewee, unless stated otherwise.

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