Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?

Louise Ingram: Since about Nov. 2006


What got you started making beads? Did you take a class?

I first saw beads with frogs perched on them online and was amazed at how intricate some were.  I didn’t take a class, but I bought a beginner’s kit and scoured the internet for any information I could glean.


Were you interested in making beads before that?

No, and I had no idea about glass beads, it really was an eye-opener when I discovered them.  I love how each one is unique, and that each one truly is a miniature work of art.  It’s also kind of awe inspiring to know that glass beads have survived for thousands of years. It made me wonder if someone will dig up one of mine in the future and be curious about it.


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

I’ve done some watercolour painting and enjoyed the odd craft. I’ve designed some websites/graphics for people and play around in Photoshop a lot. I’ve always felt creative and credit my Dad for giving me those genes. He was a very talented man.


What has surprised you most about working with glass?

How addictive it is! And just how many possibilities there are in what can be done with it.


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

Not a mentor as such, but I am extremely thankful to all the wonderful artists online who are gracious enough to share their knowledge and help inspire new beadmakers.


Whose beads inspire you the most?

I have a huge list!  Larry Brickman and Sharon Peters for starters, I love Claudia Pagel’s work, and Astrid Riedel , there are really too many to list.


Do you sell your beads? Do you sell the beads by themselves, or already made up into jewelry?

I’m extremely challenged in the jewellery-making department, I have a talented artist Meghann Gervais who has made my beads into some stunning pieces, but mostly I sell the beads.


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

It was in my mind when I started, I had to at least find a way to pay for more glass and gas!


Have you ever taken part in a bead or art/craft show?

Yes, I just took part in my very first bead show – The First Annual Ottawa Glass Bead Artists Show and Sale in Ottawa, Ontario. It was an amazing experience.


What was the biggest challenge you encountered? What did you enjoy most? 

The biggest challenge was preparing, I have to say that was very stressful!  I think the thing I enjoyed most was everything I learned the day of the show, it was the first time I had even been to a bead event and it was so inspiring and exciting to see so many talented people in one room. 


How do you feel you have benefited from the experience?

I have learned a lot!  I got to see how different people create their displays, how they price their work, and it’s very helpful to see the reactions people had to my different styles of beads. Now I feel like I know which directions I want to head in.


Do you have any tips for first time exhibitors?

Don’t Panic!!  You will survive!  Seriously, presentation means a lot -- try to make your display as interesting and professional as you can, include different heights and also some lights.  Get your items up off the level of the table as much as you can.


Do you sell your beads in stores or other venues? 

Yes, I sell beads at my local bead store, and am fortunate to live in a village that has three glassblowers, so I also have things on display with David Paterson.


Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on? If so, what is the url/id info?.

Yes, I have an Etsy store, http://www.fireseed.etsy.com, and my website www.fireseed.ca. I’m always looking into other marketing options as well.


What do your friends and family think of your beadmaking?

They are very supportive, especially my husband who I know really stressed-out over the cost of upgrading to an oxy/propane torch and getting my own annealing kiln. I’m sure my friends and family also wish they had earplugs they could pop in at times when I’m gushing forth about something new and exciting, or have yet another monkey to show!


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

I have a Mega Minor which I love, an EX-15 oxycon, and a JenKen kiln with digital controller.


What type of glass do you use?

104 coe, I’ve tried a little boro but am having too much fun with soft glass at the minute to pay enough attention to learning more about working with boro.  I mostly use Moretti, Vetrofond, and a little CIM and Lauscha.


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

One of my favourites is creating the faux boro look by using a little Reichenbach with Moretti Straw Yellow


Do these colors (or combos.) create a special reaction when used in a certain way? Tell us about it.

Yes!  The Reichenbach Iris Gold and Blue especially give a boro-like colour to the glass.  They are 96 coe though, which is incompatible with the Moretti, so I need to be careful to only use the smallest amounts in my beads.


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

I’d have to say the Internet!  I’ve learned so much from people sharing ideas.


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

I made some sets this week and I realize more than ever that I’m not a set person.  There are too many colours and shapes for my mind to stay focused on a set.  With a focal I feel I can devote more time to each bead and then move on to something different.  That said, I can make 20 little monkees in a row and not get bored because they all have different expressions!


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 it is probably my Space Monkees, which are still developing.  I follow a blog about knitted monkees http://www.monkeemaker.blogspot.com, and that inspired me to make my first monkee bead. I’m not sure how or why they became ‘Monkees In Space!’  I really enjoy making them because they are so silly. I can’t help but smile as they come alive in the flame.


What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?

Feeling like what I am creating is somehow worthy.


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

A really nice, perfectly shaped donut bead.  I nearly always end up with one side fatter than the other.


What is your favorite kind of bead or technique? 

I’m really starting to enjoy sculpting the glass more and more.


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

Yes, I do have my first beads, I look back and think ‘My! You are so SMALL!!’, but I love them, each and every one because they set me out on my journey.


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

My beads have become bigger.  I blame the web for that, I look at pictures of other people’s beads and most of the time they are larger than life.  My brain says ‘Oh! Look at that bead!  It’s nearly the size of a dinner plate!’  So I strive to make larger beads.  I saw some pillow beads at my local bead store recently and they were so small, and delicate, and intricate I was amazed!


What was your scariest beadmaking experience?

Probably the first time I lit my hothead torch.  I set it up and looked at it for a couple of hours before I could muster up enough confidence to light it!


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

Can’t think of one.


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

Glass epiphanies are fun!  That was how I learned to make the mouths on my monkees – I had been poking mouths with a dental tool that had a rounded blade, then one day I picked up a rake instead and pulled a smile into the glass, that was an epiphany – it brought much more life and character to their faces.


Do you have a technique, method or tip to share?

I can share the Faux Boro technique, a lot of people seem to like the colours in these beads.

I make a small base bead first -- different colours yield different results but one that looks really pretty is Rubino Oro.  Onto the base bead I lay down a twisty made with Moretti Straw Yellow and one or more of the Reichenbach Iris colours, then I encase the bead with clear.  The encasing helps magnify what is going on with the Iris colours underneath.  The thing to remember is to only use a little of the Reichenbach.  There is a 90% rule that says no more than 10% of the incompatible glass, and I try to keep it well below that. If you use too much the beads will crack!


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?

That was one of the big things I appreciated when I got my Mega Minor – silence!!  No more hissing from the Hothead, and yes, now I do listen to music quite often.   I listen to all kinds, but often Celtic. My favourites, Crowded House, and sometimes (ahem) the Pet Shop Boys – they are so bouncy and happy I find I can’t help but be in a good mood when I listen to them. My husband is laughing at this question because I often listen to the same tunes over and over while I work.

Do you have any advice or encouraging words for someone who is just starting out in glass? (Aside from persistence)

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!  The beadmaking world is full of generous artists willing to share!  Join a forum or two, you’ll be amazed what you can learn, and how many new friends you’ll make.


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

It’s REALLY messy!  My glass rods pile up until I have a big clean up. I do need to try and keep the bench top a bit less cluttered!


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

Maybe 12 hours a week, and no, it’s not enough!  My goal is to be able to make beadmaking my main source of income. It’s hard when there are not enough hours in the day.


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

I have a camera with an external flash unit, I think the main thing is to try and not get really dark shadows.  I use ‘macro’ setting for most of my beads and also find that bright daylight is the nicest light to take them in. 


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 a passion -- yes I’d like to make my living doing it, but I hope it never becomes a thing that I do just to make money.


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

I don’t know where I’m heading, but I’m enjoying the journey – they do say that don’t they, that it’s not so much about the destination as the joy we can experience along the way.  Once we get to where we’re going the journey is over, so in many respects I hope I never get there!


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

I don’t know if this is my best bead but it is one of my favourites.


 

NAME: Louise Ingram

LOCATION: Ontario, Canada


CONTACT INFO:

louise@fireseed.ca

ph: 613 269 2941