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by Carolyn Jankovskis

Ginny Hampton Schmidt

Lewisville, Texas

Email:  ginny@ginnovations.com




Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Ginny Hampton Schmidt: Since April of 2002

What got you started making beads?
I was designing jewelry using other artists’ beads and wanted to branch out into my own bead designs and color combinations.  I did a little research on the internet about how to do it myself, bought a hothead starter kit and the rest is history.

Were you interested in making beads before that?
Honestly, no!  It wasn’t until I started buying handmade lampwork beads for my jewelry that I began to appreciate the beauty and talent that went into each little piece of art. Realizing that I could make these too was what sparked my interest in trying it myself.   

Did you have an artistic or craft history before that? How has that translated into the beadmaking, if at all?
I have always been a creative person, even back to my childhood. My first creative hobby started when my Grandad taught me the art of calligraphy.  I dabbled in mosaic tile art and then jewelry.  My calligraphy history is what most easily translates into what I do today with stringer work detail.  
                  
Can you share a photo of some of your other works with us?
Sure!  Here is a huge dining room table that I spent nearly two months decorating with LOTS of colorful Mexican talavera tile.



 

Did you take a class?
Yes, I’ve taken a few:  Sharon Peters, Larry Scott, Caitlin Hyde, Dustin Tabor and Brad Pearson.  

What has surprised you most about working with glass?
I am still surprised by how endlessly challenging this artwork is, which is why I am still obsessed with it after several years.  I don’t think I will ever master glass and get bored with it like I have with other interests.  I will always find a new skill and a new challenge to keep my attention.  And just when I think I’m getting good, I’ll have a day at the torch when NOTHING goes right, not even a basic round bead.  It’s frustrating, yet it makes me return to the torch with even more determination.

Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.
There is really nobody in particular that I would consider my lampworking mentor.  I’ve taken a handful of classes and from each, have gained a bit of knowledge that I have incorporated into my style.  I am primarily self taught, learning the process through trial and error, and of course lots of practice.    

Whose beads inspire you the most?
I have always been inspired by beads that are created with bold color contrast and showcase an artist’s talent for precise decoration. Larry, Dustin and Brad’s work have been long time source of inspiration for me, which is why they are some of the few people I’ve wanted to learn from.  

Do you sell your beads?
Yes!  I sell lots of beads (including custom requests) on my website, www.ginnovations.com.  You can also find my work at the Garden of Beaden in Fredericksburg, TX and at Kittrell-Riffkind glass gallery in Dallas, TX.   



Did you intend to sell your beads when you first started? What got you started selling them?
My original intent was to use them in my jewelry to enhance their uniqueness. I started selling beads after I received requests from people that saw my jewelry. Once I was comfortable enough with my skill level and quality of my beads, I started to sell them.  

Do you make beads for friends?
Of course!  

What does your spouse/children/family/friends think of your beadmaking?
I am very fortunate to have such a supportive network of friends and family. My parents have always supported me in what I do and my husband is very proud of my talent . . . he believes in me more than I believe in myself, and sometimes I need that source of strength. I couldn’t ask for anything better.

What sort of set up do you have for making beads?
I use a Nortel Minor torch fueled with natural gas and an oxygen concentrator.  I also use an AIM kiln.

What type of glass do you use?
I work exclusively with soft glass: Moretti, Vetrofond, Lauscha, Czech, and have recently added some Double Helix and Rocio Glass to my collection.

Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
My best purchase by far was my torch-mounted SteadyRest marver. A steady hand is essential to a lot of my decoration and I honestly don’t know what my beads would look like if I didn’t have it!

Do you have a favorite beadmaking book or piece of instructional material (video, etc.)?
My favorite reference book is Passing the Flame by Corina Tettinger, and my favorite eye candy/inspirational book is 1000 Glass Beads.

Do you have a favorite technique?
DOTS!!  Layered dots, masked dots, twisted dots, raised dots, mashed dots, big dots, little dots you name it, I love it!



Are you a “set person” or a “focal bead” person?
My true love is for creating larger focal beads, with my favorite shapes being hearts and bicones.

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 don’t know if I’ve reached a point yet where someone can instantly recognize my work, but my most popular bead design is my large heart focal.  I made a large heart with a frog on it for HGTV a couple of years ago so I think a lot of people associate big hearts with me. I have to give my Mom credit for getting me started with hearts. When I first started experimenting with shapes she told me that hearts would be a great idea . . . I turned my nose up at that idea because I thought they would be “too girlie”. Well, today those are my best selling beads and something I enjoy making, so thanks Mom!



What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Creating beads the way I want to, being confident in my work, and not focusing too much on what other beadmakers are doing.      

What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?
Freeform “organic” type beads . . . I’m terrible at them!     

The easiest?
Complex patterns created with dots and lines.

What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
Did I mention I like dots?  

Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Hmmm, I think I have them, but they are hidden in a locked vault somewhere never to be seen again.  Sometimes I look at my first beads and cringe at the lopsided shapes and sloppy decoration, but they help me appreciate how far I’ve come and how much progress I’ve made in 5 years.   

How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
My beads are much larger and much more complex than they were when I started. Several years ago all I saw and purchased were tiny beads so I naturally thought that’s what I was supposed to make. After I took my first class with Sharon Peters I learned that big beads are fun and give you WAY more space to decorate. She gave me the courage to try something new and now most of my beads are fairly large.  



What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Having the field producers and camera people from HGTV sitting in my (small) studio with me, filming me for an episode of Crafters Coast-to-Coast. My hands didn’t stop shaking for at least 10 minutes!

Do you have a humorous beadmaking experience or moment to share with us?
Maybe the time I shook my jar of bead release when the cap wasn’t on tightly, I refinished my kitchen cabinets in a nice shade of goop-gray. Or, maybe the time I etched my beads in a glass

Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?
For perfectly straight lines, you can use your razor tool to straighten out your stringer work. Lay your line down as straight as you can, and before it melts in too much, heat it slightly and scoot it into position with your razor. You can easily get rid of little crooked spots and you’ll look like you have the stringer control of a pro.  

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?
I listen to music and have 3 different radio stations that I alternate between. When I get tired of one I just switch to the next station for the day.  

Do you have any advice or encouraging words for someone who is just starting out in glass?
Besides a few basic rules – like annealing - there is no right or wrong way to make beads.  Make what you want to make, using the colors you want to use, in the size that you like, and using whatever method is comfortable for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment and take chances, the worst thing that can happen is that you make an ugly bead. The best thing that can happen (and does!) is that you discover something wonderful.      

Have you “invented” any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn’t ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?
Not that I can take any credit for. One of my favorite tools is a nail set that I got at Home Depot. It’s great for squishing dots into dimpled circles and I use it to shape the toes on my frogs. I give Sharon Peters thanks for sharing that tool idea with us in her class.  

Could you share with us some pictures of your studio set up?
Sure!  



How much time do you spend making beads (in hours) per week? Is it enough?
I probably spend 20-25 hours per week on the torch making beads. It’s definitely not enough time, but I don’t think there’s such a thing as enough time to make beads!

What about photographing your beads – what do you use to get your pictures and do you have any tips or tricks to share?
I use a small photo cube, bright floodlights and a Nikon Coolpix 4300. My biggest tip would be to use really bright lights and a way to diffuse the glare (like a cube, tent or something like that).  I find that my pictures need less fixing with editing software if I have nice bright lights.

Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on? If so, what is the url/id info, etc.
I sell my bead sets, focal beads, jewelry and take custom requests through my website, which is www.ginnovations.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?
I sell beads at a few shows near Dallas, TX throughout the year (you can find a schedule on my website), at the Garden of Beaden in Fredericksburg, TX, and I sell my finished jewelry at Kittrell-Riffkind glass gallery in Dallas.  





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?
For the past 5 years this has been my passion . .. I’ve finally found a creative outlet that continues to challenge and reward me. For the past year I’ve also been able to take my passion and slowly turn it into my job, except I hate to call it a “job” because it’s much more fulfilling than a typical 8-to-5 job. Although my ultimate goal and focus is currently on trying to make a living in the glass world, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I also do it for the pure enjoyment and pride of being able to create handmade pieces of art.         

Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
This is what I love to do and hope that it will be a part of my life forever.  Just like anything else in life, you never know where your path will lead, so the most important part is to surround yourself with the people and the passion to enjoy your journey.    

Do you have a favorite bead, a “best bead.” Can you share a photograph with us?
I have LOTS of pictures I can share with you!!


Copyright 2007  Carolyn Jankovskis Photos by and copyright by the interviewee, unless stated otherwise.

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