by: Dwyn Tomlinson
For our first issue, Beading Times interviews Ania Kyte — a relatively new lampworker who has come a long way in a short time.
Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Ania Kyte: Since September 16, 2002, so just under 6 months.
Beading Times: Wow, not long at all! What got you started making beads?
Ania Kyte: I had always wanted to try lampworking, since I love all things to do with glass, but didn't think that I could afford to do it. Then, on a whim, two of my jewellery-making friends and I signed up for a 3-hour beginner class with a local lampwork artist (Barrie Edwards). I had a full lampworking setup before the end of the week, and have been making beads ever since!
Beading Times: You really got into it then! Were you interested in making beads before that?
Ania Kyte: I've been interested in making beads ever since I started working with beads (bead jewelry, appliqué, wirework, etc.) over 7 years ago.
Beading Times: So you incorporate your beads into your own jewelry designs then. Do you make beads for friends too?
Ania Kyte: All the time — I especially love to give friends a bead that they particularly admire as a surprise.
Beading Times: Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.
Ania Kyte: Although she is not a lampwork artist, my friend Linda Brascoupe of Gatineau, Quebec was the person who originally got me addicted to beads, and taught me the basics of beadwork, so I consider her a mentor in all things beady.
Beading Times: Whose beads inspire you the most?
Ania Kyte: I love beads made by Linda James, Michael Barley, Barrie Edwards, and Corina Tettinger.
Beading Times: Do you sell your beads?
Ania Kyte: Yes (website, eBay, bead stores, and custom order).
Beading Times: What does your husband think of your beadmaking?
Ania Kyte: My husband Allen is very tolerant of my bead obsession, and also very supportive. He is always willing to patiently look at a new batch of beads and admire them. At the same time, he is a critical sounding board for me, and I often ask his opinion of a design because I know I will get a very honest answer.
Beading Times: What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
Ania Kyte: I have a very basic setup. Metal table and chair, a 25 lb. propane tank, and a hot head torch. (I rent professional kiln space for the time being, since my studio doesn't have room for one right now, but it's not far off in the future that I will be annealing my beads myself).
Beading Times: What type of glass do you use? Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
Ania Kyte: I use Moretti/Effetre rods. My favorite is Opaque lilac Moretti glass (at $5.00 a rod!) and goldstone.
Beading Times: Do you have a favorite technique?
Ania Kyte: Florals!
Beading Times: <laughing> I guess we can see that in your beads. They are lovely! Do you make sets?
Ania Kyte: Yes, although sometimes I prefer to make a variety of beads shapes and colour-shades that go well together to create a set, rather than a group of matching beads.
Beading Times: Have you developed a "signature" bead, a unique type of bead that is recognizably yours?
Ania Kyte: I'm still working on trying out various styles and techniques on my path towards developing a unique style of my own.
Beading Times: I love the name "TurtleBeads" — it's very distinctive — but I don't see any turtles! Where does the name "TurtleBeads" come from?
Ania Kyte: "TurtleBeads" came about because I was struggling for about 2 years for a studio name, and couldn't come up with anything. Then one day, I was sitting in my studio, and I looked over at my collection of turtle figurines all lined up in front of my aquarium/terrarium with two Mississippi Map turtles swimming in it, and I realized that I loved turtles! It seemed so obvious and I don't know why I didn't think of it before... So I ran over to the computer and immediately registered for the "turtlebeads.com" domain to make it official :)
Beading Times: What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Ania Kyte: Since I had only taken one class and made 5 beads during the class, there were a lot of techniques that obviously weren't covered due to time constraints. So a large obstacle was the lack of knowledge of various techniques that is needed to make really good beads — but experimenting and practice have taught me a lot, and the time spent on trying out new things on my own has allowed me to keep an open mind.
Beading Times: What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?
Ania Kyte: Vessels — the little handles are so hard to make perfectly the same, and they often don't make it out of the blanket in one piece
Beading Times: The easiest?
Ania Kyte: A well-centered bumpy/dotted bead with nicely dimpled ends, snakes with patterned backs, and ladybugs.
Beading Times: Well — I know that will make some people jealous!
Ania Kyte: I love large, focal beads, especially tabs, bicone-shaped beads, florals, bumpies, and anything cased.
Beading Times: Casing — another bug-a-boo for the beginner.
Ania Kyte: Since I started, my casing has slowly become better, I have much better stringer control, and so I'm able to do more detailed work.
Beading Times: So, do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Ania Kyte: Yes, I kept all the beads I made during my beginner class, and I've made a pair of earrings out of two of the beads which match closely enough. Occasionally, I also remember to keep a bead for myself which demonstrates to me an achievement in technique in some way.
Beading Times: What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Ania Kyte: Turning on the torch the very first time!
Beading Times: Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?
Ania Kyte: I doubt that it's a new technique, but I can share a technique I 'discovered' for casing floral beads in clear glass:
Rather than casing around the bead, or dotting spots of clear glass on the flowers and filling in the spaces, it works best for me to apply the clear from side to side in large sweeps of glass, alternating the side on which you start the application at each sweep. It keeps air bubbles to a minimum, doesn't drag the flower design, and leaves a lovely air bubble in the center of the flower.
Beading Times: I'll have to try that! Have you "invented" any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn't ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?
Ania Kyte: I use an old stainless-steel knife for a small marver, and rather than purchasing a steel rod stand to hold my working rods of glass, I use an old campfire toaster rack.
Beading Times: Too cool! Could you share with us some pictures of your studio set up?Ania Kyte: Certainly! Studio Picture 1 Studio Picture 2
Beading Times: We here are all very impressed that you became so accomplished so fast! Do you have any background that you think helped you master this art form so quickly?
Ania Kyte: Thank you! I'm blushing! It's so neat to hear that people think that I'm accomplished. I sometimes think that I've come a long way in the past 6 months (and many hours at the torch), and then I look at the work of others who have put a lifetime into their beads, and I feel like I have SUCH a long way to go … .
I think that there are so many factors that have contributed to my artistic development. My mother is a very detail-oriented person, and also probably the most extremely artistic and creative person I know (she paints, draws, sculpts, arranges dried flowers, etc.). My father is very technical — he restores and paints cars. My sister is a fine art painter. Each of them has always seemed to me to be more creatively inclined that I could ever be, and when I was growing up, I didn't think that I was or could be creative. Then, about 8 years ago, I started making dreamcatchers, which led to making beaded jewelry I felt like I started to discover my own personal creativity. I had always loved glass, anything made of glass, and I knew that I wanted to get involved in working with glass at some point. Beads were the perfect object, because I already loved working with all kinds of beads — seed beads, pearls, crystals, lampwork. So here I am — a lampworker! And it seems like the most natural thing in the world to me that I should be making glass beads. So I guess you could say that I have a background that was conducive to learning a new art form very well and very quickly.
The other part of it is probably that I am very passionate about it, and I find that I get completely absorbed in things which fascinate me, so it's easy to make the time to practice and try to improve myself and my beads…
Beading Times: Passion certainly is a large part of becoming accomplished at anything. We've enjoyed this insight into your world and wish you many more years of success.
If people want to look at your beads further or purchase them, where can they go?
I sell beads and jewelry by custom order on my website at: http://www.turtlebeads.com
I also sell beads on auction on http://www.eBay.com (id: turtlebeadstudio)
Beading Times: Thank you for you time! We wish you all the best in your ongoing beady adventures!
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.