Inspiration I: Glass Beads

Inspiration comes from a variety of sources. I’m going to explore some of what inspires me in the weeks to come. Here’s a post I wrote a few years back for another blog group with some updates and new thoughts.

When I first started making jewelry, it was at a local bead shop that closed in the evening. Small groups of friends could come in after hours,  string beads, drink wine and share chitchat. It was just for fun then, but I knew that I enjoyed the activity and I was drawn to the different materials: the intricacies of Bali silver beads; the shapes, colors and textures of freshwater pearls; and, at that time, natural stones and semiprecious stones. I didn’t really think about inspiration though. It was a form of relaxing for me…to clear my mind of rigid computer-related stuff. The inspiration came later.

Over 7 years ago I discovered lampwork beads. And it has been a love affair that has evolved and changed as I’ve come to understand and appreciate the process and the skills that go into these artisan-made glass beads. In the years that followed, I learned all that I could about the art (short of actually melting glass myself regularly and in the last few years I’ve even tackled that a few times) and I’ve met many bead artists online while buying the beads. At one point 95% of my Joolz were designed around lampwork beads. Most of the time the many forms that these glass treasures take provide me with endless amounts of inspiration. I see a set in an auction or when a friend displays them in a forum “show & tell” and I’m drawn to it. I can often picture what I’d do with that set and how I’d use pearls and silver to complement the artistry of the glass. However, this is not to say that every set I buy ends up immediately being put to use.

Other times, I am almost overwhelmed by a set of beads long after I’ve received them, unsure how to take the innate beauty they possess and enhance it with my designs. I confess to feeling unworthy at times of turning those beads into a mere piece of jewelry—one that will thrill someone else in the same way I felt when I first saw the beads by themselves. I want to inspire that same feeling with my work. I want whoever ends up with the jewelry to feel a “wow” moment.

“Heavy stuff,” you might be thinking. “We’re just talking beads and bracelets here.”

Well, yes and no. I know that sometimes we are just talking glass beads, round or oval, smooth or rough, shiny or etched. But other times we are talking little works of art. They conjure up a feeling with their colors and textures and as a designer I am compelled to only enhance that feeling, not overpower it with needless excess. So the pressure builds and some beads sit. Still inspiring me with their beauty, but not quite letting me pass on the inspiration. Inspiration is a double-edged sword at times.

Or maybe I need to just get over it. 🙂

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