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Sherry Bellamy

British Columbia, Canada

sbellamy@telus.net

by: Dwyn Tomlinson


Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Sherry Bellamy: It was just 2 years in March, 2005.

Beading Times: What got you started making beads?
Sherry Bellamy: I'd been making beads with polymer clay for a couple of years, and I was just going to try liquid Sculpey … to make my beads look more like glass!

Beading Times: Were you interested in making beads before that?
Sherry Bellamy: I didn't really know about glass beads, but I liked the beads that I'd seen in bead stores, most of which, I now realize, were "factory" Lampwork. I've also had a lifelong love of glass … stained glass, paperweights, anything glass!

Beading Times: Did you take a class?
Sherry Bellamy: I took a 2 hour class where I shared a hothead torch with another gal. I knew right away that this was something that I wanted to do, no doubts whatsoever! I've since taken classes with Joy Jubenville, Andrea Guarino, and Michael Barley.

Beading Times: What has surprised you most about working with glass?
Sherry Bellamy: How easy I've found it to work with, it's such a rewarding medium, with the potential for lifelong learning.

Beading Times: Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor?
Sherry Bellamy: Tell me about them. Lynne Chappell who taught the class that I took was very encouraging when she saw my first beads. When I started out I was pretty much alone. I have to say that in many ways, my customers have been real mentors, I have customers, (one in particular!) who have stayed with me since the early days, and this has been very encouraging and helpful.

Beading Times: Whose beads inspire you the most?
Sherry Bellamy: Man, that's a tough question. Corina Tettinger and Kim Neely are so very perfect in both technique and artistry, Andrea Guarino and Michael Barley are wildly talented, and are both delightful people. Kimberly Affleck is another wonderful beadmaker, with such a unique style! I could really list dozens of bead artists, but I know that I'd accidentally leave someone out, so I'll stop here!

Beading Times: Do you sell your beads?
Sherry Bellamy: Oh yeah.

Beading Times: Do you make beads for friends?
Sherry Bellamy: Yes, and family…my mom, my daughter, my sister … I still haven't made a bead that my hubby David will wear though.

Beading Times: What does your family and friends think of your beadmaking?
Sherry Bellamy: I've had nothing but encouragement from everyone around me, my husband made it very clear that he wanted me to do what would make me happy. I'm a very fortunate woman!

Beading Times: What sort of set up do you have for making beads?
Sherry Bellamy: Right now I'm using a Minor with propane and an oxygen concentrator. I've got a Paragon Caldera kiln with a digital controller which is wonderful. I'm going to get another concentrator…more heat!!

Beading Times: What type of glass do you use?
Sherry Bellamy: I mostly use Effetre (Moretti), and Satake. I've really got to be in the "zone" for Satake though … it's really different, very soft.

 

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite product.
Sherry Bellamy: You know, I started with Fusion bead release, and I've never felt the need to change.

My favorite marver is a big slab of brass stock that I polished up with some Tripoli…it's a foot long, and it weighs about a pound, but it's nicely balanced, and it stays cool forever. My bicones have never looked back!

I have a big marble lazy susan that we got at a garage sale, and I use that for glasses of stringer, it's perfect.

The line of brass bead presses from Corina Tettinger are must-haves for me, I use them a lot. The Zoozii presses are awesome as well! I also use the Mags Mashers tool for pressing hollows, it's perfect for that.

 

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite technique?
Sherry Bellamy: I guess my favorite technique is adding silver to glass. I do that a lot! I also love making latticino and twisties.

Beading Times: Are you a "set person" or a "focal bead" person?
Sherry Bellamy: That really varies from day to day — sometimes from minute to minute!

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.
Sherry Bellamy: I don't really have a signature bead as such. Huge focals with lots of abstract designs, and lots of silver are probably my most popular beads.

Beading Times: What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Sherry Bellamy: Lack of self confidence!

Beading Times: What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?
Sherry Bellamy: Long, long beads. I just can't seem to do those, and on the rare occasions that I've made a nice one, I've not been able to get them off the mandrels. I have some really nice plant sticks!

Beading Times: The easiest?
Sherry Bellamy: Nice big lentils!

Beading Times: What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
Sherry Bellamy: I love making focals with huge silver-fumed dots. Andrea Guarino showed us how to fume in a class I took with her, and I'm just in love with the effect.

Beading Times: Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Sherry Bellamy: I have all of my early beads. My very first bead was an abomination! But within a week or two I was making some beads that I'm not ashamed of now. Someday I'm going to make a mosaic or maybe a mobile out of my early beads…they really mean a lot to me, even if most of them are sort of hideous!

Beading Times: How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
Sherry Bellamy: I've just generally gotten more skilled technique-wise, that's a natural result of constant work/practice. I'm also "braver" to try new things, so sometimes I get a nice surprise in the kiln the next morning.

Beading Times: What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Sherry Bellamy: I gave myself a nasty burn this winter. A glass of stringers on my right started to tip. I reached across with my right hand and actually banged my wrist on the lit torch. This happened in seconds, and I had cold water/ice on the burn right away. All healed up, no problem!

Beading Times: Have you had any "glass epiphanies" while working - some revelation or understanding?
Sherry Bellamy: For me, when I started selling my beads on eBay, I got a case of "eBayitis," by which I mean that I was working with a view to selling, to make what I thought would sell, and not necessarily making what I wanted to make. Now I only make what I feel like making. If it sells, great! If not — I had fun making it!

Beading Times: Have you "invented" any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn't ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?
Sherry Bellamy: My favorite tool is my giant brass marver! It's not dainty, but it is an awesome marver! I also use a carpenter's leather tool pouch to hold tools. It's screwed to the front of my bench, and I can take tools without scrambling around on my bench. And of course it frees up lots of space!

Beading Times: Could you share with us some pictures of your studio set up?
Sherry Bellamy: Sure!

Beading Times: What about photographing your beads - what do you use to get your pictures?
Sherry Bellamy: I use a television lighting setup, a 1500 watt halogen bulb. I have to use lots of filters to tame down the glare. It's a bit of overkill, but it was free! My camera is a Nikon Coolpix 3100. I love it.

Beading Times: Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell your beads on?
Sherry Bellamy: I sell on eBay.com. My seller ID is glsgirl, and the word "Orcabeads" is always in my title. I also have a website, Orcabeads.com, which is still a work in progress, so I haven't really been promoting it.

Beading Times: Do you sell at shows or in stores or other venues?
Sherry Bellamy: I sell to retailers in Ottawa and Winnipeg, and I'm applying to be in the second annual Fraser Valley Bead Show, put on by Barrie Edwards.

Beading Times: Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
Sherry Bellamy: This is all that I want to do right now. I might consider teaching in the future, when I feel that I have the necessary level of skill, not to mention the space!

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite bead, a "best bead." Can you share a photograph with us?
Sherry Bellamy: Sure, although next week, or next month, or tomorrow, I might well have a new "favorite!"


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 dwyn@beadingtimes.com.

Copyright 2005 Dwyn Tomlinson. Photos by and copyright by the interviewee, unless stated otherwise.