A Matter of Style by Solar Flare Creations

25 12 2008

I was shopping with a girlfriend the other day (an exceedingly rare occurrence for me) and when she looked at the clothes I had selected to try one she said ” You definitely have a particular style dont you, I would have picked all of those things for you”.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to have my bead style so readily apparent.  My modus operandi really does not lend itself to developing a specific style or signature bead.

I like to try new techniques, skills and designs, but the reccomended ‘practice, practice, practice’ does not sit well with me.  I tend to try something new once, then look at the result.  If it worked well, I generally declare it a success and move on.  If it didn’t turn out well, I tend to mentally put it in the ‘too hard basket’ for a few months, when I will try again. Luckily, sometimes my skills seem to develop by osmosis – I do a lot of my learning in the back of my mind, mulling things over.  Generally when I come back to it, the technique will click and off I go.  That’s how I learnt to make hollows.  I’m sure if I had kept trying the first time, I would have got it eventually, but my method is a lot less stressful and wastes a lot less glass.

So while I do have some favourites styles, namely Warring States dot beads,  my work tends to be eclectic and touch on a wide variation of styles.  I worry sometimes I should be developing a ‘signature’ style or design, that people will look for and keep coming back. But then I also wonder if it works just as well to produce work that satisfies a wide range of tastes and interests.

I may not have a signature bead – but I guess I do have a personal style… to dabble, to experiment, and try everything once.



Shows – Susan Sheehan

13 08 2008

Many artists are solitary people. We love the time alone in our studios to do as we may. Selling online has made this even easier to embrace. I can list at all hours and the money comes in while I’m sleeping, torching or cooking dinner. I think if not for my family, I could easily lose all sense of reality. But the day I realized I was holding conversations with fixtures about what colors to use I knew it was time to get out.

Years of doing art shows for my photography left me dreading the idea of doing a bead show. The set up, the hours on my feet, the feeling of hope slowly deflating away as I left yet another show with comments of “I could do that.”, echoing in my head. What I had forgotten was the important information garnered from watching what people touched, lingered over and asked questions about. I realized I can’t see how long someone looks at my listings. I can’t know how many times they click through the pictures and what questions they are asking the screen. I needed to break free from my safe little world and face the world of shows.

I decided my approach to shows had been all wrong. Instead of making money being the primary objective, I needed to change focus. Market research was going to be priority number one. Unless nobody actually looked at my beads, I couldn’t fail.

I prepared for the first bead show in my most anal of ways. Lists galore, setting everything up in the basement to ensure a good looking table and focusing on a wide range of price offerings. I pulled out my dusty Bruce Baker craft show sales tape (where on earth did I have a tape player anyway?) and pumped up my ego.

I was in for a treat. First of all, carrying in 3 loads of table displays, supplies and beads was practically liberating. I was used to heavy grid wall, boxes of matted prints and framed pieces. Band-aids and a change of clothes weren’t necessary for a bead show. After setting up in merely an hour I had two to spare. How glorious! I promptly got a cup of coffee and a bagel. I browsed the other vendors’ tables and even had time to make a purchase or two.

When the show started I realized not only was the set up a dream, but the room was full of motivated shoppers. Bead shows aren’t the kind to draw in those looking for mere entertainment. The majority of participants were women in fashionable clothing and wearing handmade jewelry. What a bonus! I had actual examples of styles, colors and designs my target market liked to wear.

As the shoppers stopped by, I found I was unusually comfortable. Joking and chatting as if they were my friends. I wasn’t selling, I was sharing information. I had so much fun. I was learning plenty about what people wanted and what they loved.

After a break down in under an hour I drove home from my first bead show basking in my achievement. I had a head full of ideas, an exhausted voice and a sense of pride. I am good at what I do and others noticed.

I didn’t make thousands of dollars, but I did discover shows are good for my work and my sanity. They mean much more to me than a sales venue. They validate what I do, feed my ego and inspire me to make more beautiful beads.



Thats a Weird Place to Start the Journey – Deanna Chase

24 07 2008

Confession time: I am a bead maker who doesn’t really care all that much about beads or jewelry. Have I shocked you? I know, it’s a horrible thing to say. Did she just say she doesn’t care about beads? Yes, I said it and worse, I wrote it down. Let me first clarify, I have a great respect and admiration for all the wonderful bead and jewelry artists out there. I am constantly amazed at what each of them continues to create and send out into the world, making people smile and giving us such gorgeous eye candy.

The thing is, I just have never had much of an eye for fashion. I am simple in that regard. Dressing up for me these days means clean jeans and a black t-shirt. Seriously. Okay, I have a few skirts, that might count, but I still wear t-shirts with them, though I do refrain from wearing my tevas with the skirts. I just can’t go that far. I almost always forget to put my jewelry on when I leave the house. Just because I said I don’t care all that much about it, doesn’t mean I don’t have some. The stuff I have is treasured as well, but not because I have a great love of jewelry. It is because it was either made by or included beads made by some of my very favorite people. It makes me feel happy to wear it. I also have a few pieces of my own work, made into simple necklaces. The very few I have are special pieces I made and have loved so much, I didn’t want to give them up.

So you might be wondering how it is a person who just isn’t all that into beads, ended up making them for a living. Most women I know who are bead makers came at this craft from the jewelry end of the journey. I have heard over and over again from people who say they just loved beads and making jewelry. Then they found glass lampwork beads and were hooked. The journey for them started there. Certainly that isn’t true for everyone, but it is a common story.

My journey actually starts with my husband. He saw a lampworker selling her wears at a local art show back in early 2000. Two days later he ordered a torch and a starter supply pack and was up and running within a few weeks. He really wanted to learn to make contemporary marbles, but found starting with beads was easier. Even at that point, I still wasn’t all that into beads. Greg was making sculptural stuff and little mini figurines, all fun stuff, but not anything I ever thought I could do or even wanted to do. A few years later when we started meeting up with other bead makers, I got to see in person some of those gorgeous little works of art, full of dichroic glass and flowers. Finally I was interested. How do they do that? I asked myself that question more than once.

Then I had a few lessons, first from Greg, then Anne Scherm Baldwin, then Kaye Husko. I was fascinated with the process of making beads. I still am. There is something wonderful about sitting down at the torch and blocking out the rest of the world and just creating something, anything. It is all that much better if it comes out pretty and even greater when someone actually wants to buy it! How wonderful.

So, it’s true I don’t care about beads in a “I want to surround myself with them and make a bunch of jewelry” kind of way. But I do care about the wonderful little works of art out there and the artists behind them.

The Balancing Act by Suzanne of Solar Flare Creations

23 07 2008

In responding to this topic, I should start by saying that I am not a career beadmaker. It is definitely a hobby for me, even if it does border on obsession at times. So, I must balance life, career (as an educator) and glass, which at times can be a tricky juggling act.


It would seem likely, even obvious, that the balancing act would be easiest in the holidays, when it would be assumed I could be found ensconced behind my torch for hours at time.  Strangely, however, I seem to manage the balancing act best when I am more pressed for time – when beadmaking can become a great escape from my everyday life. I never seem to be as productive in the holidays as I would like.


Between my responsibilities at work, and my beadmaking, I also manage to squeeze in my family, performing in amateur musical theatre, and involvement in the SCA.  So, a busy life that frequently borders on hectic.  When I sit at the torch and melt glass though, everything else falls away.  I have found that it reduces my stress, gives me a few hours peace when things are getting on top of me.  Working with molten glass is not an occupation for the distracted.  You must be totally focused on what you are doing, for the sake of safety and control, and staring into the orange glow of molten glass and flame can be mesmerising.


I’m not sure I always manage the balancing act successfully – I know Solar Flare Creations would be more successful if I could be more prolific in the number of beads I have available. It has, however, provided a valued refuge for me from my day to day world and the stress of work, so it’s a balancing act I will continue to practice.

Spearmint Pastilles

Spearmint Pastilles

Look at me! I’m Famous – Deanna Chase

23 06 2008

What? You didn’t get the memo. I know, it came as a surprise to me too. Don’t feel bad, now you know. 🙂 The first time Greg (my hubby) and I went to an ISGB Gathering, International Society of Glass Bead Makers, we were both surprised at the amount of people who knew who we were. Of course, instead of gushing about what fabulous creations we made they gushed about how cool our lifestyle was. At the time we lived in an RV and traveled the US continuously, selling our beads and marbles online. We were stopped by numerous people with the, “Oh you’re the RV people. That is sooo cool! I wanna be you when I grow up.”

Okay, so we didn’t become famous, or is it notorious, in our little bead world by making fun stuff, though we think we do, we became known for our wacky lifestyle. Hey if it works roll with it, I say. So we have become known as the traveling vagabonds. Mostly people came to know us through message boards. I had a tiny 80 x80 picture of both of in an avatar and you’d be amazed at how many people recognized us from that tiny little picture. Be forewarned, when posting on message boards, there are far more people reading your words than you will ever know. So keep it positive people.

The reality now is, we no longer live in an RV. After four and a half years, I was ready for a house and a real studio. It has been almost a year now and I don’t miss being on the road all the time. I miss the traveling, but not the living in the RV part. It was great fun and I’ll always treasure it, who knows maybe I’ll do it again someday. But for now, I am happy where I’m at. So, will we still be famous? Probably not, though we have made a name for ourselves in the bead and marble world and thats all I really care about. Maybe we won’t see our names up in lights, but the business keeps the cash flowing and we don’t have to work outside jobs, and that is all the fortune I need.

Texture – Susan Sheehan

14 06 2008

One of the amazing things about glass is the ability to alter light.  Glass can transmit, bounce or reflect light.   Who doesn’t love a good suncatcher in the window?  The magic of sunbeams dancing about a room is fascinating. To create light altering beads I employ texture. 

Not only can texture send light flying in all directions, but it can produce a look that begs to be touched.  Adding depth to my beads is a challenge I enjoy.  Using a varitey of tools, I can manipulate glass in sculptural ways.  The beads can bounce light as well as take on an interesting shape.

Texture in glass is not only a feeling, but a look.  Silky smooth glass can also appear to have texture. A mixture of transparant and opaque glass is a subtle way to create depth. 

Creating with glass offers possiblity and challenge.  Employing the concept of texture helps add dimension and interest in glass beads.  Focus on texture in your next work and see where it leads you.


Color Me All Over the Place — Lisa Liddy

10 06 2008

When it comes to choosing colors for jewelry, I admit it—I am all over the place. I buy beads and pearls and other supplies in the colors that I like first. Then I look around at what is HOT for the season (might seem a backward approach but I get where I need to be eventually). Usually there is some overlap (always a good thing!). And I’m always looking at the classics and neutrals.

If I’m wearing it this summer, it’s likely to be fuschia, orange, hot pink and black. Somehow my summer casual wardrobe (6 months of wear in AZ!) ended up in those color combos. I call it “accidental coordination”. My sub-conscious knew more than I did when I was out looking for clothes! This bracelet is actually my daughter’s but if she doesn’t start wearing it soon, I’ll reclaim it!

I’m a sucker for black and white in jewelry, too. It always sells and no one seems to think you can have too many pieces in that color scheme! And I’ve also gotten hooked on pale pink and brown like in this ring. I call these “Sex and the City” colors!

As I’ve gotten more years behind me in the business, I’ve tended to avoid most holiday, seasonal colors (with the exception of a very few red, green, and white pieces) in favor of more marketable year-round colors. And in the “rules are made to be broken” category, I’m working on a red, white, blue bracelet—but that is really more for another blogging project than to sell. I have some great ideas in holiday color schemes, but I find my style of jewelry doesn’t sell easily when wearing time is limited.

All shades of purple appeal to me and to my buyers. It’s such a comforting color palette for me too. When I am having a creative drought, I pull out my purple stash and start to relax and let things flow.

Another combination that always makes me feel good are “watermelon” shades: pinks, greens, reds… Especially for summer but I make Melonhead Joolz year-round thanks to generous beadmaker friends.

Eventually, I’m going to get my office repainted in soothing shades of teal and mauvey plum. I have had the paint chips picked out for a year but if you’ve been in my office, you’d know what an ordeal it will be to paint.

I told you I’m all over the place with colors! I’ve thought about sorting all my handmade glass beads by color, but I’m half afraid where I saw “gaps” in the color wheel, I’d feel the need to fill in and that would be a bad thing!

I really can’t imagine life without all the colors of the rainbow in beads!

www.joolzbylisa.com     www.lisaliddy.wordpress.com