Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?

Carolina Sherrill: I started lampworking in 1999. I began working at the Bermuda Glassblowing Studio at the retail shop soon after I moved from Brazil to Bermuda. My fascination with miniatures sparked an interest in lampworking. I asked Gayle, the studio owner, to give me my first lesson and that was the start of an obsession. I would work from 9 to 5 at the shop and sneak to the studio in the back to practice after hours. I initially made miniature animals such as frogs, penguins, etc.


What got you started making beads?

My friend Mariangela, one of the glassblowers at the studio, had a book about beadmaking by Cindy Jenkins. I loved the idea,  and the book became a great tool for me. I started making beads, and eventually jewelry. My jewelry line was sold in the shop.


Were you interested in making beads before that?

Not really... I didn't know much about glassmaking before 1999. 


Did you have an artistic or craft history before that? How has that translated into the beadmaking, if at all?

I was always into crafts... I tried a lot of things, such as cross stitch, candle making, painting. Nothing would keep me interested for too long though. I was searching for something but just didn't know what it was...until I found glassmaking. With its infinite possibilities, there was no way I could ever get bored.


Can you share a photo of some of your other works with us?

I don't really have anything... some of my candles were kind of nice, but what a messy hobby!


Did you take a class?

Just that one first lesson with Gayle... that was all. I learned what I know mostly by trial and error. My husband always says that, for some reason, I like to do things the hard way.


What has surprised you most about working with glass?

I love the mystery of glass... there's so much to be explored. It's just an amazing medium. I guess what makes me want go back and sit in front of the flame is knowing that I will be surprised, in some way or another.


Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.

My friend Mariangela... she's not only a glassblower, but a flameworker as well. She was always supportive, gave me a lot of tips and made beautiful glass miniatures. Her dragons were amazing!


Whose beads inspire you the most?

It's hard to say... I try to be an active member of the LampworkEtc.com forums, and I see some amazing pieces on a regular basis. There's a lot of talent in that community, so I guess I can say that the group inspires me as a whole.


Do you sell your beads?

Yes, on JustBeads.com. I also started selling jewelry again through Etsy.


Did you intend to sell your beads when you first started? What got you started selling them?

Well, yes. The studio didn't have a jewelry line, so I wanted to fill that void. After I moved from Bermuda to Las Vegas, I was unable to flamework for a couple of years. Soon after I started again, I discovered a few communities online dedicated to the craft (such as Lampwork Etc and Wet Canvas), and I also found JustBeads.com. I was definitely surprised when I realized that there was such a market.


Do you make beads for friends?

I used to do it more often than I do now. My friend Nicole in Bermuda has a bunch of my necklaces.


What does your spouse/children/family/friends think of your beadmaking?

My husband appreciates it and supports me. My family is very supportive and proud as well.


What sort of set up do you have for making beads?

My torch is a Minor, and I use propane and an oxygen concentrator. My kiln is a Paragon, but I forgot the model name.


What type of glass do you use?

Mostly Creation is Messy and Double Helix Glass. But I also use Vetrofond (I love the odd colors) and Effetre. 


Do you have any favorite colors or combinations of rod to work with?

My favorites are always changing...currently I'm addicted to Double Helix's Terranova 2. I also love CIM's Canyon de Chelly and Effetre's Dark Silver Plum.


Do these colors create a special reaction when used in a certain way?

Yes, and that's why I love them so much!


Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.

Right now, I'm totally into Raku. I initially hated Raku because I couldn't get it to work like it was supposed to... I'm so glad I gave it another try.


Do you have a favorite beadmaking book or piece of instructional material (video, etc.)?

That would be my first and only book..."Making Glass Beads" by Cindy Jenkins.


Do you have a favorite technique?

Not necessarily...but I love playing with reactive glass.


Are you a “set” person or a “focal bead” person?

I do both. Sometimes I'm in a focal mood...sometimes in a set mood.


Have you developed a “signature” bead, a unique type of bead that is recognizably yours. Tell us about it, how you developed it, etc.

Maybe my Dark Silver Plum shard beads. I also make glass bails for silk necklaces and chains, but even though I came up and developed the idea on my own, I'm not sure it's an original.


What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?

Probably going back to glass after a  2-year break.


What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?

Encased beads...I always struggle with them.


The easiest?

Organics.


What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?

I guess Dark Silver Plum shard beads. I love the colors and the texture.


Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?

Yes, they're awful.


How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?

They have changed a lot... I like to think they are getting better.


What was your scariest beadmaking experience?

I have a pretty big scar on the top of my hand, which was also the biggest blister I have seen. I was making a focal and decided to grab something on the shelves behind me. As I turned, the hand holding the mandrel went directly into the flame. Instead of dropping everything and taking care of the burn, I decided it would be a waste to not finish the bead. Needless to say, keeping my burned hand right next to the flame only made things worse. I didn't finish the bead and couldn't flamework for a couple of weeks. I'm much more careful now.


Do you have a humorous beadmaking experience or moment to share with us?

Because is so hot in Las Vegas during the summer and my studio is in the garage, it is almost unbearable to flamework. So I soak my t-shirt as well as a towel that I place on my lap, and I keep a water spray bottle close by and spray myself from time to time. And I also have a swamp cooler blowing directly on me. I look quite ridiculous.


Have you had any “glass epiphanies” while working – some revelation or understanding? What were they?

I've had quite a few...and I still have them.


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 while you work?

I have to have music. It's just part of the experience...I like to say that "music is my aeroplane" (from a Red Hot Chilli Peppers' song). My musical preferences are very diverse, from hard rock to electronic. I actually named a few beads after songs (like Viva la Vida and The space between us). Right now, I'm totally in love with "Human" by The Killers and "Sex on Fire" by Kings of Leon.


Do you have any advice or encouraging words for someone who is just starting out in glass?

Practice, patience and caution. You will get burned but the scars eventually fade. Be creative, try new things and have fun.


Have you “invented” any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn’t ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?

I use a screwdriver bit for swirls, but I haven't invented anything.


Could you share with us some pictures of your studio set up?

My little messy corner in the garage? Nah...... :)


How much time do you spend making beads (in hours) per week? Is it enough?

Right now, 4-5 hours a day, about 5 days a week. It's pretty good.


What about photographing your beads – what do you use to get your pictures and do you have any tips or tricks to share?

I struggled a lot with photography...after a lot of hits-and-misses, I decided to get the proper setup and it's wonderful. It's called EZ-Cube, and I definitely recommend 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. 

My website: http://glassbeadsbycarolina.com

My JustBeads.com nickname is BeadsbyCarolina, and this is the URL for my auctions: http://www.justbeads.com/search/ql.cfm?s=beadsbycarolina

My Etsy store: http://CarolinaSherrill.etsy.com


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 don't really do shows. I sold a few bead sets to a bead store. I sell focal beads, bead sets and jewelry.


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 is a passion and just recently it became my full time job...as recent as 2 weeks ago. I decided to follow my heart and leave my full time job to pursue my passion. Let's see where it takes me...I will probably get a full time job again and go back to doing this as a hobby. Who knows...


Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?

Well, right now I like to believe that one can make a living out of glassmaking. If not, it will remain my hobby for sure.

 

NAME: Carolina Sherrill

LOCATION: Las Vegas, NV

(... but I’m originally from Brazil)

CONTACT INFO:

http://glassbeadsbycarolina.com

artist@glassbeadsbycarolina.com

ph: 702 408 7672

Mike demonstrating at GAS 2005 in Australia.