Education – Annette Piper

18 05 2009

Educating yourself and your clients should be a very important aspect of your creative business.

Naturally, you, as the creative talent behind your endeavour need to know the materials you work with, how they can be worked most effectively and how to look after them.

Experience will count for a lot, particularly in the skills knowledge area, however specific materials knowledge is very important and your customers will appreciate your expertise.

Don’t necessarily accept what a supplier of your materials says – particularly if they are a new supplier or not well known to you. They may be repeating something they have heard, were told, or, unfortunately in some cases, making it up to ‘sound good’.

By asking lots of questions of your suppliers, they will hopefully take on board your interest in the facts and bolster their own knowledge. You will benefit from their efforts of educating themselves and in the process learn more yourself.

Seek out information through courses, appropriate texts, information sites and forums. If someone not qualified offers you their opinion on materials, take it on board – but question everything if you’re unsure. Even professionals get second opinions!

As a gemmologist and jewellery designer, I am fortunate to have a good knowledge of gemstones from my years of study and work in the trade. However, even I get occasions when I’m not quite sure if a stone I am buying is represented correctly. It may be just a little niggle of not being sure, but I’ve found it’s a wise niggle to listen to!

It can be quite an adventure to educate myself further on a little known stone and ensure that I know exactly what it is I am working with. The end result of course, is that my clients know precisely what each stone in a piece is, including any treatments it may have had.

Be sure to share your expertise with your customer.  On the other hand, don’t overwhelm them. Offer your knowledge as part of the selling process. They will gain confidence that you know what you are talking about and in time you will become an expert in your field – at least to them.

Know your materials - can you name all the gemstones pictured here?

Know your materials - can you name all the gemstones pictured here?

 To read more from Annette, visit her blog at and view her jewellery at


Do You Choose Your Style or Does it Choose You? – Deanna Chase

12 01 2008

Most artists have a style, whether they realize it or not. In fact I would venture to say all artist have their own style. The question is how do each of us find our own style? Do we find our style, or does it pick us? For me I would have to say my style choose me. I make mostly what is comfortable for me. It is very much the same as to what I wear and how I decorate my house.

Does this mean I don’t like to step out of my comfort zone? Probably. I like instant gratification. I like to make things and know they came out nice and pretty. It really is only when I get bored that I try new things. My new things are definitely influenced by the people around me. However, somehow I think my own personal style still shines through.

The staple of my line is surely my floral beads. These are heavily influenced by Kaye Husko, who taught me how to do them. However, it is clear when you look at each of ours, that they are different. Clearly that is our styles showing through. I can’t define it and I can’t explain it, but it is there. The placement, the colors, the designs, all similar, but when put together, they are distinctly different. It’s kind of fascinating really.



As for my recent explorations in marbles, those are heavily influenced by my husband Greg. Clearly, he is my teacher, and the one I look to for tips, ideas, and instruction. He is a whimsical artist at heart, and I can see some of that showing through in my pieces, but still there is that something different that shows through. Style. That piece that you just can’t put your finger on. At least I have trouble doing that.



Then there are the pieces that just grab you and a new idea is born. Like my dragon beads. A driven desire to make something similar to a picture on a book. I have a friend who calls it giving birth. Giving birth to a new idea, a new style, a new direction. It sure does feel like that too. Of course it isn’t really a new style is it? It is developing and using skills from our own styles that lead us to the new idea or piece.



I’d have to say that style grows, just as skills and interests do. It is ever changing, if we are growing, which is so important as an artist. Important not just for business growth, but for growth as an artist.


The Creation Process – Suzanne Tate

8 01 2008

I find it a bit hard to write about this topic.  I’m afraid, despite my Fine Art background, and my career as an Art Teacher, that I am a bit haphazard to say the least about my creative process.  I don’t really keep a sketchbook or visual diary, and I don’t often respond to external stimulus. Not even my amazing trip to Europe and Egypt last Christmas produced inspiration for my glass. I rarely even have an idea in my head when I head to the torch.  I just don’t seem to work that way.  For me, it’s more about combining colours, and utilising skills. 

Many of my best designs derive from dots, as that is a technique that I have practised and developed a level of skill. But I do love to produce designs that practise various skill, such as stringer control, encasing or sculpture.  I guess I am more often moved by what I can accomplish, rather than expressing emotions or inspiration. 

I do have one area of influence that frequently affects my glass.  I am a member of the SCA – a Medieval recreation society, and like to research and produce period style glass beads. That often means producing replicas, which isn’t very creative, but I do love to incorporate the period techniques and styles into more contemporary designs. 

My favourite dot beads are an example of that, as they are heavily influenced by the Chinese Warring States Beads.

So, more often than not, the creative process for me is sitting at my torch, picking up a colour glass that appeals to me at the moment, and making the first thing that comes into my head.  Or, making a conscious decision to focus on a particular skill.  Trying to make beads on a theme is a new process for me, but one I am working on for my involvement in the Modern Savages group. 

Sometimes I think that my working style tend to lean more to my glass as a craft, rather than art.  And I don’t see that as a bad thing. I think I’d rather be a good craftsman (creaftsperson?) than a mediocre artist….. 

But that’s a discussion for another day.