Archived Featured Bead Artists
Ania Karolina Kyte, Amy Waldman Engel, Barrie Edwards, Jodi Lindsey, Rebecca Voris

Karen Elmquist

Ontario, Canada

kelmquist@sympatico.ca

by: Dwyn Tomlinson


Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Karen Elmquist: Since May of 2002

Beading Times: What got you started making beads?
Karen Elmquist: I took a one week course at Red Deer College in Red Deer, Alberta

Beading Times: Were you interested in making beads before that?
Karen Elmquist: Yes, passionately!

 

Beading Times: Whose beads inspire you the most?
Karen Elmquist: There are soooo many talented beadmakers out there! It's really hard for a new beadmaker to not copy, I don't want to copy anyone's style, though I may try a private copy to see if I can reproduce the technique. In terms of delight and wonder, I admire the work of Jinx Garza, Lezlie Belanger, Carolyn Driver (the first lampwork bead I bought was one of hers), Pati Walton and Corina Tettinger

Beading Times: Do you sell your beads?
Karen Elmquist: Yes, I've just started to recently

Beading Times: Do you make beads for friends?
Karen Elmquist: ALL the time, I'm sure they are getting sick of them!

Beading Times: What does your spouse/children/family/friends think of your beadmaking?
Karen Elmquist: They approve, they are accustomed to my enthusiasms!

Beading Times: What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln,
etc.)
Karen Elmquist: I have a small set-up in the garage of our cottage, which is safe and quite comfy (if a bit cold in winter!) but unfortunately means I can only make beads on weekends. I have a Nortel Minor torch, a Paragon digital kiln and am currently using oxy and propane tanks, but would like a oxy concentrator this year. I bought a table for $10 at a yard sale and covered the top with sheet metal from Home Depot (using duct tape, yay!). Chair was $2.00 at a yard sale. My kiln sits on a vintage typists table ($10 at an auction) which has wheels and can be moved. I bought pvc tubing and cut it into 12" lengths, they are stacked horizontally in a small shelving unit to hold my glass. And I bought tin watchmakers cases from Lee Valley for my frit and enamels...they work great as they have glass tops and they were cheap too! You can set up a perfectly usable studio without spending a lot of money, which can then be spent on lots of yummy dichroic glass!

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
Karen Elmquist: I've just started using the Sludge Plus bead release and wow, that's good stuff! I really love the opalino and alabastro glasses, the colors are so dreamy though they are *touchy* to wok with (sometimes there is cussing) And Dichroic glass fascinates me, I have to avoid using it in every bead!.

Beading Times: What type of glass do you use?
Karen Elmquist: Only Moretti so far

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite technique?
Karen Elmquist: I am really fond of working with silvered ivory stringer...the wonderfully spontaneous organic effects it creates are great. And I love making hollow vessels!

Beading Times: Do you make sets?
Karen Elmquist: Sometimes, but not often

Beading Times: Which do you prefer to make, a pile of beads or a single perfect bead?
Karen Elmquist: BOTH!

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.
Karen Elmquist: I love making long (2 1/2" or more) SKINNY focal beads. Don't know if they are unique to me (probably not as there is very little new under the sun!) but they are intiguing and customers seem to like them. They are more wearable than a huge focal, yet still have lots of room for surface interest.

Beading Times: What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Karen Elmquist: Still working on stringer control. And good encasing without smearing or bubbles. And I STILL cannot make good (or even adequate) vessel handles with glass. Practice, practice, practice!

eading Times: What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?
Karen Elmquist: Perfectly round beads

Beading Times: The easiest?
Karen Elmquist: Long skinnny ones

Beading Times: What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
Karen Elmquist: Hollows are so fun! And I like making flowers.

Beading Times: How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
Karen Elmquist: Heavens, I hope they are getting better!

Beading Times: Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Karen Elmquist: I still have them. They are pathetic little lumps o' glass, I was embarassingly proud of them

Beading Times: What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Karen Elmquist: Having a good sized molten lump of aventurine filigrana stuck to my arm...I still have the scar and I will never use THAT stuff again

Beading Times: Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?
Karen Elmquist: Make your OWN aventurine stringer!

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

Beading Times: Your photos are particularly clear and sharp. What do you use to get your pictures?
Karen Elmquist: Because I sell full time on Ebay (antique linens, lace, textiles, vintage clothing and jewelry) I have a Canon G2 digital camera which does nice close-ups because of the digital zoom. Whenever I can I take the pictures outside as I think the natural light is the very best. Sometimes I go right down to the beach with a bag of beads and take the pictures there! At home, I use rice as a background, it works well and doesn't bounce back any reflections. And it lets you prop the bead at any angle. I don't use any special lighting, but the camera is a good one so that helps!

Beading Times: Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on?
Karen Elmquist: Ebay, under the user ID miss-spider
Just beads.com under the user ID miss-spider
and in my little Ruby Lane shop "Out of the Past" — I also sell my collage jewelry there, using vintage and new elements

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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.