Archived Featured Bead Artists
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Debbie Dimoff — Spun Ice Designs

Ontario, Canada

spunice@sympatico.ca

by: Dwyn Tomlinson


Debbie Dimoff is a flameworker and a silver art clay teacher living in Toronto.

Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Debbie Dimoff: Almost 3 years.

Beading Times: What got you started making beads?
Debbie Dimoff: Sheer curiosity and misinformation. I first stumbled over the phrase "lamp work" bead. Taking the term to mean that beads were part of a lamp, I carefully inspected lampshades in antique markets hoping to find the elusive "lamp work" beads. After a web search on eBay showed me gorgeous examples of the ancient craft of glass lampworking, I took an afternoon class at a local studio beadFX.

Beading Times: Were you interested in making beads before that?
Debbie Dimoff: Not a bit.

Beading Times: Did you take a class?
Debbie Dimoff: Yes, an introductory class with Amber Higgins at Bead FX studio.

Beading Times: Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.
Debbie Dimoff: Yes, not specifically to art but about life. He always tells me the truth on demand, whether I want to hear it or not.

Beading Times: Whose beads inspire you the most?
Debbie Dimoff: I'm most inspired by the Venetian flameworkers. There's a beautiful book called, "Venetian Glass, Confections in Glass."

Beading Times: Do you sell your beads?
Debbie Dimoff: I do. I have a peculiar, eclectic approach to sales. The only planned activity is a Bead Show put on by the Toronto Bead Society. I enjoy spending the day with my flameworking buddies. I like watching what people are drawn to in my selection of baubles. Many folks like pieces I don't like myself. I am also surprised to see people pick up the goddesses and touch them. Somehow I expected folks to hold back from a nude torso. I believe now that the combination of curves and the smooth glass medium make them touchable.

Beading Times: Do you make beads for friends?
Debbie Dimoff: I usually rally around to make beads for friends and sisters when I'm browbeaten to produce. I'm secretly petulant about creating anything on demand or to particular specifications…I would make a terrible production artist.

Beading Times: What does your husband and children think of your beadmaking?
Debbie Dimoff: They are amazingly supportive. My husband frequently drives me to the studio and lugs my inventory and tools in and out of the house. My kids patiently endure the studio trip to pick up my stash of completed pieces.
My youngest son has asked if it's entirely necessary to have bowls full of nude torsos soaking by the sink when his friends come over, apparently it's very embarrassing.

Beading Times: What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
Debbie Dimoff: I rent studio space from BeadFX and work there about once a week. I use a Minor torch and natural gas with tanked oxygen. I'm planning my very own studio in the house expansion my husband and I are designing.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
Debbie Dimoff: The translucent shades of orange and yellow, the yellow is exactly the color I would imagine a sunbeam to be if I could see it. The orange is so lush it looks like it would taste sweet if you ate it.

Beading Times: What type of glass do you use?
Debbie Dimoff: Mostly Effetre glass with a smattering of dichroic. I have worked with boro a bit.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite technique?
Debbie Dimoff: Let the flow of glass shape the piece as far as possible before touching it with any tools.

Beading Times: Do you make sets?
Debbie Dimoff: Yes, you could say that my goddesses are sets. My goddess heads are matched to torsos. The heads feature prominent eyes and wild highlights in the hair. Torsos have translucent wings, and dimpled cheeks. They come in different colors, shapes, and sizes depending on the effect of gravity of the glass.

Beading Times: Which do you prefer to make, a pile of beads or a single perfect bead?
Debbie Dimoff: A single, imperfect, sculptural bauble. I find symmetry objectionable. Perfection doesn't capture my attention.

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.
Debbie Dimoff: Heart with wings. I make stylized hearts with sensual curves and wings. I'm always trying for a magical sprite-like quality, sometimes I achieve it.

Goddesses in 2 pieces wired together. One piece is a head with a mop of crazy hair. The second piece is a torso, usually nude but with wings. I imagine them to be good luck. If I have a friend having a big decade birthday, I make sure to make her one. Quite an Anatomy 101 theme I have going, with the heads, hearts and torsos.

Beading Times: I understand that you participated in an exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum? Can you tell us about that project?
Debbie Dimoff: The Bata Shoe Museum held an exihibit of glass slippers in early May 2003 to mark the beginning of the Glass Art Association Conference held here in Toronto at the Harbourfront. The instructions from "The Glass Slipper Fairy" were to create a glass slipper creation to be accompanied by a fairytale or story. There were 45 artists exhibiting in the show, most of them were glass blowers. WOW! There were 45 very different entries, everything from a glass rubber boot filled with glass daisies to dainty little Japanese sandals. My entry was called "The Sole Sisters". A size 10 steel frame wired with 24 glass goddesses and 15 hearts. My story:

Once upon a time, when people first learned to fly, a flock of winged goddesses traveled the globe. They sang, they laughed and they brought good fortune to all that they touched. These winged beauties were a close group of sisters that hovered over the earth. Many of you would recognize their cousins, the fairies and the muses; and of course, their ancestors, the hummingbirds.

It may surprise you to know that these sister goddesses still travel the world today. Wherever there is a celebration or a party, they attend. They're at every wedding, birthday, school graduation, shoe sale or gallery opening. If people gather to celebrate happy events, you can be sure a winged sister is nearby. For those special folks lucky enough to catch a glimpse of transparent wings, or hypnotic eyes, good fortune follows them, happily ever after.

Beading Times: What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Debbie Dimoff: Fear of flame and hot equipment. Taking Loren Stump's 10-day course was a real turning point for me. I had the chance to work glass at both ends of the size spectrum from teeny, tiny flower pedals to massive, ugly paperweights. I felt in absolute control of the torch when I was done. In the face of frequent burns, I felt like a fire warrior…just dab on some pain relief cream and get back to the torch.

Beading Times: What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?
Debbie Dimoff: A single round, one color bead…I can't stop there, I just keep going.

Beading Times: The easiest?
Debbie Dimoff: A multi-colored nugget with loads of swirls and good weighting.

Beading Times: What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
Debbie Dimoff: Gold leaf - sooooo hard to do well. A true Byzantine look when done well, scummy when done poorly. Murrini is fun to do.

Beading Times: How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
Debbie Dimoff: I'd say they grow larger and more detailed. Goddesses are getting more campy. Torso is firmer and the perky cheeks now have dimples… in both parts of the set.

Beading Times: Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Debbie Dimoff: Sorry, I lost them on purpose.

Beading Times: What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Debbie Dimoff: On a course. Getting my hand burnt on a hot piece of boro punty as a start to my afternoon and then having at least 3 other flameworkers get burn injuries in the same afternoon. I found myself visually planning the ad to sell off my glass inventory and stop the pain. What happened instead was an important learning on my part of the best burn treatments.

Beading Times: And what is that best burn treatment?
Debbie Dimoff:
I listened to a ton of burn advice. I did NOT put clear nailpolish on the wound as one person recommended. What worked for me was to keep the burn moist with water treatment bandages, NuSkin is a brand. The pain disappeared and although the white, worm-like blister looked gross, it healed without a scar. My husband Ron was pleased that I had all the NuSkin leftovers in my medicine kit when he grabbed a punty in the HOT part during our glassblowing session this past summer.

Beading Times: Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?
Debbie Dimoff: Insert stringer and cut with nippers, perfectly round globs appear. When you use Rubino Oro, the dots look like glowing rubies.

Beading Times: Have you "invented" any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn't ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?
Debbie Dimoff: I never thought that I would be such a hardware store groupie. My favorite tool is a paint scraper. Richard's $1.98 straight edge one inch across handle grip. It makes luscious crevices for buns, cheeks and heart lobes.

Beading Times: Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on?
Debbie Dimoff: Keep an eye out for my website, which should be online now or very soon: www.spunice.com
spunice@sympatico.ca

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.