Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

I realized a few days late that I'd passed my 2-year Etsyversary. So I mentioned it on Facebook, and someone commented that it would be neat to see the first beads I'd made. So I just went into my "wonky bead drawer" and found them. They were easy to pick out. They're big and lopsided, and full of so much potential. Well, not potential exactly - but I could tell they were paving the way for better beads. I made them in my beginner lampworking class, which I took two years ago with Julie Rose at TLD Design Center in Westmont, IL. It's about 40 minutes from my house. I was crazy excited about this day-long class. I'd read up on lampworking - checking out Cindy Jenkins' book Making Glass Beads from the library and renewing it over and over again. I watched lampworkers on Youtube spin their magic with glass. Over and over again. I was ready. Or so I thought. It wasn't nearly as easy as it looked on those videos, but it sure was fun.

These are the beads from my beginner class.

Here are some beads I made in the weeks following. I put the red polka-dotted blue bead in to show how much smaller I made my beads after the class. I was even trying encasing. I drove my beads 40 minutes to TLD Design Center to be annealed every couple of weeks.

And here are my first critter beads that made it through annealing without popping off a wing. I had to steal them out of my daughter's collection to take a picture. The green blob was my first attempt at a frog. Now it's probably obvious why frogs aren't my forte, but I'm working on it.

It's fun to look back to see how far you've come. My beads are always changing and evolving. My advice to lampworkers and anyone with a craft they want to improve upon ~ practice, and challenge yourself. Some days are good days and some, well, I think why did I even light the torch. But in the end they all seem to balance out. If you're having one of those rotten days, try looking back on where you started. You'll probably realize you've come a long way. Baby.


  1. At shows I find customers will often ask "how long does it take to make a bead?" I was at a show recently and a new lampworker was explaining to her husband how much work goes into the bejeweled (dotted) beads I make. She and I began to talk and she pointed out that the better question would be..."How many years did it take to get to the place that you can make that bead?"
    Great blog have inspired me.

  2. That's an excellent point, Ema, and a much better way of looking at it. I used to be focused on how long it would take to make a bead, and I do get that question, too. But that woman is right in pointing out that it's not just the time that goes into that one bead, but the years of practice beforehand. And to get to the point where you can make those bejeweled beads that you make - well, there's a LOT of practice and patience that go into that. They are gorgeous!

  3. Here's a link to Ema's blog post She elaborates on her comment. Great stuff!

  4. It's obvious you're a natural - those first beads are great! I think you make it look easy - but I know it's a combination of talent and hard work! I enjoyed reading and seeing how you got started. You didn't mention what year it was that you took the class... How long has it taken you to get to your current level of expertise? Thanks for putting those up and congrats!

  5. Oh, whoops! I took my class two years ago in January or February - I can't remember exactly, except that it was freezing outside. I've since taken one more class at TLD, last spring - to learn silvered ivory, encasing and puttin murrini on beads. I didn't get the hang of murrini until after quite a bit of practice.

  6. Well I for one am glad you stuck with it! It helps hearing stories like these for people like me who get so easily frustrated trying new things... you're an inspiration :)