Archived Featured Bead Artists
Ania Karolina Kyte, Amy Waldman Engel, Barrie Edwards, Jodi Lindsey, Rebecca Voris, Karen Elmquist, Allison Turner, Debbie Dimoff, Margaret Zinser, Slava Popov, Faith Davis Ferris, Helen Harvest, Dwyn Tomlinson, Kristy Naray, Connie Paul, Rosemary Tottosy, Jennifer Gurganux, Jinx Garza, Nikki Lynn Carollo, Cathy Lybarger, NLM Glass Artists, Linda James, Kandice Seeber, Jocelyn Pappadakis, Anne Ricketts, Shari Bellamy , Shari Slonski, Gina M. DeStevens, Jerri Roey, Dianna Craig, Lori Peterson, Sheryll Hubbard-Anspach and Jim Anspach, Greg Chase
Northbrook, Ontario (halfway between Ottawa and Toronto)
by: Carolyn Jankovskis
Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Grace Edwards: I started in January of 2002, and haven't looked back since.
Beading Times: What got you started making beads?
Grace Edwards: Chance - it all happened "by chance". A very good friend of mine moved to Houston Texas. In February 2001 I went down to visit her. Lauren's hobby was beads. Until this trip, I hadn't realized the depths of her fascination. Yes she made gorgeous necklaces, but she loved beads, and knew so much about them. I started to fall under the spell – the allure of the beads was taking hold. We visited all the bead stores in the Houston area. I bought my first beads here, and made my first necklace. I began to learn about different types of beads including lampwork. After I got back to Canada, I saw my first set of floral lampwork beads in a photograph – and I knew what I wanted to do!
Beading Times: Were you interested in making beads before that?
Grace Edwards: No. I hadn't discovered the amazing and addictive world of beadmaking. I really believe that it just wasn't my time yet. Right now I'm in a place in my life, where I can lampwork without any distractions. When our boys were growing up, we were a two parent working family. We were all very busy – at home, at school and in our community. Both our boys were very active in sports and hockey. A lot of our spare time for a number of years was spent in arenas. Now, our youngest son is in university in British Columbia, and I have a lot more 'me' time. Now the time is right.
Beading Times: Did you have an artistic or craft history before that? How has that translated into the beadmaking, if at all?
Grace Edwards: I enjoyed sewing very much - both clothing and quilting. I quilted for only about 3 years, but it was the first time I saw how colors could work together. I also garden. When I first discovered beads, I initially thought I would enjoy using seed beads with fabric. I thought seed bead embroidery would be wonderful on casual clothing like T-shirts. It surprised me that I didn't take that any further – but I think I still may some day. I really enjoy those tiny little beads. I have a pretty good collection and enjoy working with them. You often see them in my jewelry designs. As for gardening ... well ... I've always loved flowers and you can see how that has translated into my beadmaking. The very first floral bead that I envisioned making was vinka and lily of the valley. This combination blooms in my rock garden, and is so gorgeous and fragrant at the end of May. I so wanted to reproduce a glass image of that in a bead. And I have only ever made one. It's a bead that I wear with a lot of joy because it turned out just as I had hoped.
Beading Times: Did you take a class?
Grace Edwards: I actually happened onto my first lampworking class strictly by 'chance'. I met a glass artist at my workplace who had donated a piece of her beaded work. We talked about beading supplies and the difficulty I was having locating some. At that time I didn't realize she was a lampworker. She invited me to see her studio and said she'd help me with some of that info. I drove up to see her, knocked on her door and there she was working on her torch! I couldn't believe it. I was amazed that I hadn't known that this talented woman lived just a half hour away from me. We talked and made plans for me to come back for an afternoon. I did. I made some very bad beads, burnt some turquoise glass till it turned that terra cotta color, and knew I had found what I was looking for. I was so happy. Janice sent me home with some mandrels, some glass, some bead release and a whole new reason to smile.
I've only taken a handful of workshops but I've enjoyed each and every one. I find that the time I spend in a class to be so worthwhile. You always walk away with something that you incorporate in your work to add more depth, a new twist, another dimension. We all learn so much from each other, don't we?
Beading Times: What has surprised you most about working with glass?
Grace Edwards: Two things – The first is how pleasure working with glass gives me. Just amazing! And the second is I never thought I would ever be considered an artist. You know the saying "I am not worthy". I am humbled when someone compliments my beads.
Beading Times: Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.
Grace Edwards: No, there just isn't any one person. But who is important in my lampworking life? - my family and friends, my girlfriend that always says the most inspiring things that makes me believe that 'I can', the Toronto group and Nortel. And very important are all the online forums especially the ISGB and WetCanvas! These forums have taught, inspired and challenged my skills by the generous sharing of information by so many talented artists.
Beading Times: Whose beads inspire you the most?
Grace Edwards: There isn't just one artist – there are so many, it is too difficult to even try to name a few of them. Every bead that causes you to pause and appreciate it for whatever reason, captures your imagination and inspires you in some way.
Beading Times: Do you sell your beads?
Grace Edwards: Yes, both on Ebay and on my webpage – just look for beadsbychance.
Beading Times: Did you intend to sell your beads when you first started? What got you started selling them?
Grace Edwards: Gosh no! I just wanted to make beads for myself. It never even occurred to me that someday I would be selling them!!! Selling wasn't part of the picture at all – I just wanted to make beads. But then I started getting comments about the beads I was wearing and people began asking me if I would sell. It really surprised me this new entrepreneurial twist to my 'obsession'. Then it started to pay for the glass I craved ... so this was a very good thing.
Beading Times: Do you make beads for friends?
Grace Edwards: Absolutely!!! All my family and friends have jewelry made with my beads. :-)
Beading Times: What does your spouse/children/family/friends think of your beadmaking?
Grace Edwards: They are my inspiration as I've already mentioned. You know, it's funny. You have a pastime that gives you so much pleasure. I guess pastime is much too tame a word. You have this obsession that constantly delights and amazes you, and that's ok. It's like your own little secret. You feel so pleased to spend time playing, working and developing techniques. Learning about the glass you use and playing with color. You find yourself driven and enjoy this drive so much. But it's those closest to you that give you validation. It makes it ok to be obsessed. When your family and friends wear your designs, buy your work as gifts and give you their time at shows, you know they believe in what you're doing as well. It just makes it perfect.
Beading Times: What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
Grace Edwards: I use a Nortel Minor (which I absolutely love) and an oxygen concentrator. My kiln is a Amaco pottery kiln that I am so pleased with. I've come to know it very well, and hope I never have to replace it. Fortunately, Amaco is right here in Ontario.
Beading Times: What type of glass do you use?
Grace Edwards: I use Lauscha, Effetre, Vetrofond and Czech. Czech all by itself, but the other three with each other.
Beading Times: Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
Grace Edwards: All my favorites are products that are tried and true for me. I love Sludge Plus – it's so easy. Dip, air dry and it never breaks off when I'm working with it and always releases easily after my beads come out of the kiln.
Glass ... well... so many favorites. I love all four types that I've mentioned. I intend to spend years learning more about each one. For encasing, hands down Lauscha clear is the best. But at the moment, I've got to say my absolute favorite glass to use is Lauscha transparent red, all on its own in very simple beads. It is exquisite.
Beading Times: Do you have a favorite technique?
Grace Edwards: Feathering. I use it to make foliage.
Beading Times: Are you a "set person" or a "focal bead" person?
Grace Edwards: I am most comfortable making encased floral focals. But I really enjoy making sets. Sets challenge me more that florals do because using colors and designs together is still so new for me. I guess I'm both, a set and focal person.
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.
Grace Edwards: I would have to say that the bead that most folks would associate with me is my encased red, white and black floral, and I like to think of it as my signature bead. Not sure if anyone else does – lol. It is the bead on my business card. Red and white flowers sit on a black matrix. I find this color combo so striking and beautiful. It draws me. I've played around with how to make the petals really stand out and have developed a red opaque and transparent red combo that works well.
Beading Times: What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Grace Edwards: Self confidence. I'm a very shy person.
Beading Times: What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?
Grace Edwards: Stripes! Sheesh!!! I look at these gorgeous stripes some folks make and I'm jealous. Maybe I'm too picky with mine, but I'd really like to get that technique down pat.
Beading Times: The easiest?
Grace Edwards: LOL - I'd like to say spacers, but some days even spacers aren't all that easy! Generally after a few hundred of any type of bead, the technique does get somewhat easier.
Beading Times: What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
Grace Edwards: Absolutely without question the answer here is florals – encased, raised, simple or complicated. These are my favorite beads and my favorite way to spend my beadmaking time. I have always enjoyed flowers, and now I make them in glass. This spring I want to start making peonies. So that is the technique I will be developing. Right now they're only happening in my head – hopefully soon in my studio. Most of the florals I now make are single or double petals. Peonies will be more complicated and dimensional.
Beading Times: Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Grace Edwards: Definitely! They are the reason I'm here doing this interview. I was mesmerized by them then. I'm mesmerized by them today. I thought they were wonderful when I made them. I still think they are wonderful today! Misshapen, burnt, wonky, pointy and funny, but very definitely wonderful.
Beading Times: How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
Grace Edwards: I'd have to say that the techniques have improved. Technically and consistently they are better, but really, you can recognize the direction I was going in right from the get go.
However, having said that, someday I intend to try my hand at sculptural work. I really love some of the sculptural beads I see out there now. I have dabbled a little bit in it. I made a frog on a lily pad a couple of years ago. But I'm not ready to stop making round beads yet. There are still so many I want to do, so many more color combinations that I want to try, that for now, I'm happy doing what I'm doing.
Beading Times: What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Grace Edwards: Can't think of one.
Beading Times: Have you had any "glass epiphanies" while working – some revelation or understanding? What were they?
Grace Edwards: No glass epiphanies just glass euphoria. :-)
Beading Times: Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?
Grace Edwards: In encasing, to let the bead get cool to 'almost' the point you hear it ping before you add the molten clear. You do this a few times, and you'll soon be able to gauge the beads temperature, and you won't smear the underlying petals.
Beading Times: Have you "invented" any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn't ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?
Grace Edwards: I don't use a lot of tools, but one of my favorites is a thin palette knife that I use for pushing the glass. It has a very thin steel blade and it just suits me. I couldn't work without it.
The other odd little tool I made from a cylindrical piece of graphite. It's about 6mm wide and fits snugly into the plastic base of a Bic pen. I use this to flatten raised flower petals.
Beading Times: Could you share with us some pictures of your studio set up?
Grace Edwards: All the jars you see on my work table have the colors of glass I use most often as well as the combo I am working on at that particular time. See the test tubes in the jars? Those are stringers of that particular color. That's how I keep my glass and stringers organized. Works for me, but it does make the table very full!
Beading Times: How much time do you spend making beads, in, say, hours per week? Is it enough?
Grace Edwards: You can never spend enough time on the torch. When I had a day job, right after dinner until 10pm was my time on the torch. On weekends, I did one full day as well. Now that I'm running my business, I try to do that same number of hours, but I fit them in differently.
Beading Times: What about photographing your beads – what do you use to get your pictures?
Grace Edwards: I have a SonyDSC-V1 and I've made a permanent little bead photo studio in my workshop. I researched the types of cameras used by beadmakers on the Wetcanvas and ISGB sites, and it seemed to me that the Sony was the camera that I wanted. So, I took a couple of florals down to the Sony store. The sales person and I photographed them, and I chose my camera based on the quality that I was looking for. I am very pleased with it.
Beading Times: Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on? If so, what is the url/id info, etc.
Grace Edwards: My site lists all my upcoming shows and current Ebay auctions. www.beadsbychance.com
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?
Grace Edwards: I sell mainly at shows and from my studio. I sell both beads and my beads made up into jewelry.
Beading Times: 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?
Grace Edwards: Oh my gosh - definitely a passion. But I am trying very hard this year to make a living at it. I took a year's leave of absence from my day job and am trying to make a go of the glass business. I felt that beads alone may not be enough as a start, but I did have an idea a while back...
I had been using Lauscha clear for encasing and a few of their other colors. But – Lauscha wasn't available here in Canada. I had to order it from the US. So... my idea was, why not be the Canadian importer? I could offer a great range of glass colors, and the type of service I would expect. Maybe that could be my day job? I planned to continue do my beads the same as before, but now my whole day would involve glass. What a concept! And... (drum roll) Lauscha Lady opened her virtual doors on September the 10th. Woohoo!!! www.lauschalady.com
Beading Times: Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
Grace Edwards: I am very happy with how things are developing for me. I'm doing more shows. I keep getting more requests. You can't ask for more than that. But ... in the back of my mind, my ultimate dream would be to open a lampworking studio – a teaching studio with torches, supplies and some bead components. Just a dream for now, maybe one day my lottery ticket will come in.... sigh.
Beading Times: Do you have a favorite bead, a "best bead". Can you share a photograph with us?
Grace Edwards: Definitely - I love this black, white and red floral.
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 email@example.com.
Copyright 2005 Dwyn Tomlinson. Photos by and copyright by the interviewee, unless stated otherwise.