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. Grace Edwards, Amy Johnson, Christopher and Jacquelyn Rice, Aimee Kennedy, Lucie Kovaraova-Weir, Dawn Schannell, Manuela Wutsche, Melanie Mortel, D Lynne Bowland, Lyn Richards
by Carolyn Jankovskis
How long have you been making beads?
On and off for approx 3 years.
I started by purchasing a hothead and some glass from Heritage glass – tried it and thought I liked it but found using the hothead slow, but because of my rental location could not go any bigger. Then I booked classes in 2002 with Pam Dugger and Leah Fairbanks at Glasscraft expo. Its was an amazing venue. I was a beginner in an intermediate class and watched others make beads. It was my first time on a Minor torch and it scared the heck out of me, and after that I never even attempted to make beads on a hothead again. I came home and bought the Minor torch and oxy concentrators and all the fixings and tools but still did not set up for lampworking (even though I had now moved based on wanting to do lampworking). The big change came when I took a class at the Pennsylvania Guild of Crafters with Sharon Peters to really “push” me and I was told about Wetcanvas.com, a forum for beadmakers. After visiting this forum only 1 day - it had me set up and playing with glass every day.
What got you started making beads?
Originally I wanted to make jewelry and every time I went to take a beading class or make anything, there was never that one focal piece in the color or design that I could find to make my piece unique.
Were you interested in making beads before that?
Yes. I tried polymer clay and enamel beading previously to my original classes as the location I lived would only allow me to use minimum space and safety procedures.
Did you have an artistic or craft history before that? How has that translated into the bead making, if at all?
Yes, I had drawn and loved copper enameling when I was younger and art always fascinated me – never any one particular skill but multi media types of projects.
Did you take a class?
Tons of classes and I highly recommend them. I was lucky enough to live in the states for 8 years and in the last three years there I started taking beading classes with Linda Gettings, Dottie Hoeshcen of My Fathers Beads in Coopersburg PA (they are in the magazines all the time) and they were right around the corner from where I lived. Then I got interested in Fusing and took classes with Jayne Persico (also lived in my area) the queen of fusing. Then from Fusing it became PMC with Celie Fago and Chris Darway (again lucky enough for Chris to be in my neck of the woods and the Lapidary Journal Beadfest was just down the street each year) but of course my biggest love became lampworking and making beads that I could incorporate into everything else I was doing. I can boast teachers like, Pam Dugger, Leah Fairbanks, Deb Crowley, Kirsten Frantzen Orr, Doug Remschneider, Patti Walton, Stevi Belle and so many more that I am thankful for. Of course then I wanted to paint on glass and took some introductory classes at Glassfest in PA with Tony Glander and Peter McGrain. Then I spent a lot of time at Wheaton Village in NJ with J. Kenneth Leap who taught me so much about traditional glass painting which I ported over to my painted beads.
What has surprised you most about working with glass?
That the learning never ends ! No matter what level you are or you think you are there is always something to learn from someone else – a little trick – a technique a way to pull it all together.
Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.
No one person in particular – I am interested in all the different techniques and realized that I loved them all.
Whose beads inspire you the most?
Actually everyone’s beads inspire me. I can't pinpoint any one person that I can say is the “one” true inspiration. There are so many great beadmakers out there and it would be impossible for me to just say one person inspired me to go into lampworking or to continue to be a lampworker. I think it’s a huge group effort of all the glass workers, whether its soft glass or boro – small beads or sculptural they are all inspirational and the industry I think has grown in leaps and bounds just over the last four years I have been involved and watching it expand.
Do you sell your beads?
I have always just given my beads away as gifts or in exchanges but I am gearing up to next year for selling and going to shows – in fact I booked my first Oasis Bead Show just recently for March 2007 in Toronto.
Did you intend to sell your beads when you first started? What got you started selling them?
Yes, I always had the intent on selling but I wanted to learn to produce interesting and unique beads and also to teach. I wanted to wait until I got home to Canada where I could set up my studio and not worry about having to move or the restrictions of where I lived to set up all aspects of my studio – I wanted to be settled and focus on design and quality of my beads before going on to sell.
Do you make beads for friends?
Tons – Not just beads but finished jewelry – I get great pleasure when someone actually wants something I made – it all comes back to the self satisfaction of making something with your own hands.
What does your spouse/children/family/friends think of your bead making?
Its amazing, friends are so enthusiastic and my sisters and brothers are amazed and supportive, but they say they are not surprised - really as they always thought I would settle into something artistic. My daughter though just has no interest in what I do – she just thinks its “fine” – mom’s hobby …. She is very artistic and I was hoping that the glass bug would catch but that has not happened, as yet – now my 5 year old granddaughter stands beside me with her glasses on and watches and wants to torch but she gets the job of fondling the finished glass beads at this time, but I see her in about 5 years working on the torch.
What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
I think I own every tool that is made (even though I pretty much stay to about 5 tools on my table top at a time as my constant favorite tools). I love tools and then there are kilns. At last count I had 15 kilns, yes 15 each with their own use...
I have three bead kilns strictly for beads – Glasshive Mailbox - firebrick(my fav) Glasshive Stainless dual door – firebrick (for boro) Toolbox (my travel buddy when I go to classes in case we need extra room) All the bead kilns have controllers. I prefer the fire brick interior as to the fiber blanket interior – but that’s just my preference – there is nothing wrong with fiber interior. All the rest are for Copper Enameling, Glass Painting, Fusing, Pottery, etc….
The torch I started with and still use the most is the Nortel Minor along with two Caire Breeze Oxygen Concentrators and of course the standard BBQ propane tank with dual gauges. This is my basic set up.
I do plan on setting up a studio in a shed I built last year (24 x 30) where I will have two Carlisle Mini CC’s, a Barracuda along with the larger Carlise CC torch and a modified Carlise CC torch that uses compressed air, all attached to Oxy tanks and propane, but that is next years plan.
What type of glass do you use?
Everything! All soft glasses as well as Borosilicate.
Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
Again a preference – the tried and true Fusion Bead Separator – I make big beads and I find it does not break away and it suits my needs – I’ve tried others but I always fall back onto the Fusion product.
Do you have a favorite bead making book or piece of instructional material (video, etc.)?
I think I own all the videos from everyone and each one is instructional and informative – but the one book I actually sat down and worked with was the Corrina Tettinger “Passing the Flame”. I sat with that book and made every bead (not well) in it when I started.
Do you have a favorite technique?
None in particular… its all inspirational – whatever I feel like when I sit down – I have seen many techniques from different teachers and I try them all – some work for me others don’t but I find that I will modify how I am working based on the type of bead I am making.
Are you a “set person” or a “focal bead” person?
I would say that I am a focal person – It’s a real effort for me to make sets – even when making a bracelet I would prefer that each bead be different in some way shape or color! I am one of those that even if I tried to follow a pattern I would need to change something to make it mine.
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 have a few – of course there are the painted beads – of which I can draw anything onto glass and create into a bead – portraits – cartoons etc….which developed from my traditional glass painting classes and incorporating into beads and I must give credit where credit is due – I saw Bronwin Heilmans beads once and thought they were fantastic and wanted to learn more but at that time she was not doing classes so I went in a different direction and technique.
I also have Fat Cats that I developed after a class with Sharon Peters who pushes the envelope in the sculptural technique and has made sculpting in glass so much easier for me.
What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Right at the beginning the playing with fire was pretty scary – even turning on the kiln worried me - I researched and took the classes to take away that feeling but once you start to do it daily – whether its for an hour or 5 hours you have to practice, practice, practice, to feel comfortable at anything you do.
What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?
Identical beads! I always want to make every bead slightly different, but when your trying to make a pair of earrings you have to have two beads pretty darn close to being identical.
Bubble beads – usually when something goes wrong that’s what it becomes and they collect till I have enough to make a bubble necklace or bracelet.
What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
Painted Beads… I enjoy a day of painting and firing and then another day of putting the painted glass onto the hot bead bases – where I can do interesting background colors or designs.
Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Yes I do along with a lot of other less than pretty beads. But my granddaughter loves them...Truly the phrase “ In the eye of the beholder!”
How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
Because I am pretty diverse and never stay too long on any particular pattern or style I cant really say they have changed. Yes there are ones that I fall back on when I am less than inspired and just want to torch and play and then there are those that amaze me when I‘m finished as I never realized I could even make them – in particular my nudes – never thought I could sculpt the body much less in glass at the end of a rod or on a mandrel!
What was your scariest bead making experience?
I am pretty safe when I torch – I have carbon monoxide alarms plugged in everywhere, fire extinguishers at every door, I don’t over load the circuits – no extension cords, lots of ventilation but I can't protect myself from me – I have only burned myself once (other than the standard popping glass burns) – and a pretty good one at that on my right hand at the knuckle and it was one of those quick in and out of the flame – but it was pretty ugly for a few weeks after that – of course I did nothing at first – had to save the bead and then I took care of the burn.
Do you have a humorous beadmaking experience or moment to share with us?
The only thing I can think of is something my granddaughter said. I was babysitting and my granddaughter was upstairs watching TV and I was in the studio and my daughter came home asked where I was and my granddaughter told her I was downstairs “torchering” beads…
Have you had any “glass epiphanies” while working – some revelation or understanding? What were they?
Constantly! Especially when I try to do something I do not normally do and follow instructions in books or videos. Rather that do it the way that feels comfortable to me I try the different tips from the various artists and sometimes I see just how backwards I have been working.
Do you have a technique or method or tip to share.
Never believe what everyone says and try it yourself – never be afraid to try something new – Many people had told me that you cant do boro on a minor and oxy concentrators – I make quite large pieces with my set up and it’s a pretty standard set up that everyone owns. Unless you try you will never know if you can do it or not.
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?
Music has never been one of my favorite things to listen to except in the car – I much prefer Audio Books! I subscribe to an online service called Audible.com where you can download the books and listen from your PC, laptop, MP3 or you can burn them to disc. I remember torching all day long from 6 in the morning till late into the night so I could listen to the DaVinci Code right through – I made over 400 beads that day and filled three kilns.
Do you have any advice or encouraging words for someone who is just starting out in glass?
Take some classes, get online and get involved in one or more of the glass forums out there. They will help answer questions and they will fuel your enthusiasm and create some ideas on what you could practice – shapes, colors or styles. That is always the hardest obstacle to get past – what to make. Get involved in exchanges and challenges and push your envelope.
Have you “invented” any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn’t ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?
I’m lucky to have time to torch much less design anything new – I tend to go through the tool catalogues and keep my eye open for the next “new” tool.
Could you share with us some pictures of your studio set up?
Sure – right now I have taken over ½ my basement for my mini indoor studio and its chuck full of goodies – kilns – glass – frit- tools you name it. Next year the big shed (24’ x 30’) will become the main studio and I cant wait to unpack that and get it set up with the bigger torches, sandblasting and some of the larger kilns.
How much time do you spend making beads (in hours) per week? Is it enough?
When I first started I made sure I spent at least 1 hour per day 7 days per week on the torch (weekends I spent about 6 hours) and I did that for a good year and three months before I started packing up to move back to Canada and then for almost a full year I did not torch – this year I was lucky enough to set up in the basement – but I doubt I’m doing more than 1-2 hours a week. My plans for the new year (my New Years Resolution) is to torch or spend no less than 1 hour per day in the studio.
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 Sony Mavica which I love. I bought a Nikon Coolpix 4500 but have not really felt that it gives me my best pictures even though it is a higher pixel camera. I use the cloud dome and a pop up dome for pics along with some exterior lighting, but sometimes by accident I get some really great pics of certain beads.
Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on? If so, what is the url/id info, etc.
Not as yet – not sure about e-bay but I have been looking at JustBeads lately and I may dive into there as well. I will sell directly from my own site which is http://www.deborahread.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?
In the past I used to give everything away – just before leaving PA I consigned everything to My Fathers Beads for sale. Right now nothing is set up but the plans are in the works for shows and selling on the internet as well.
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?
Right now its all a hobby and passion, but I hope that by next year I can say it’s a part time job (although when you say job it sort of takes some of that fun factor out of it).
Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
Mostly teaching. That’s what I would like to do. I have been taking classes and learning as much as I can so that I can share that knowledge with others here in Canada – we seem not to have many teachers from the U.S. that are willing to travel up here as yet and I would like to give back something to help promote glass here in Canada.
Do you have a favorite bead, a “best bead.” Can you share a photograph with us?
My favorite is a boro clear sandblasted nude I made one day while playing around.
My first nude, approx 4 inches long.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2007 Carolyn Jankovskis. Photos by and copyright by the
interviewee, unless stated otherwise.