Tag Archives: lampwork

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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Motivation on a Summer Day (or any day)

Designing jewelry is something I kind of fell into. It was a way to hang onto a shred of sanity during an incredibly difficult time several years ago. It relaxed me. And then people wanted to buy what I made (which meant I could buy more beads and silver and pearls…without feeling too guilty!) and that was satisfying as well as motivating. Sometimes.

But real life gets in the way more times than not and things don’t happen at a pace that you would like. I’ve always worked best under pressure…deadline-driven is how my other business has to operate and I’m much more productive when there are hard deadlines. Like many artists, though, the thrill of having someone want your work is often as motivational as the monetary result. It pushes me to step out of my box more and reach for new ideas. However, sales of jewelry aren’t exactly “needs” in the economic scheme of things, so when sales are slow, the motivation to create new things slows for me as well. It should work the opposite and I’m working to change that mindset.

I am someone who has to be busy…if I’m watching TV, I’m doing something else too. Just the way I’m wired. I like learning new things and taking on new projects. Working with metal is one of those areas…fueled in part by the insane price of sterling silver and the general slow recovery of my jewelry sales. It took me a while to warm up to using copper and brass, but it’s been one of those “move out of your comfort zone” things that takes me into color schemes I might not be drawn to and it’s been a lot of fun.

BHB caps etched copper brassI haven’t yet found a market for all the copper and brass Joolz, so I moved into creating metal components and have been selling them to lampwork beadmakers and other jewelry designers. I’ve been really happy with the success of Metal Me This in the last few months.

It’s been a huge amount of work to list regularly and attract a new customer base. And my nails may never recover from stains and metalworking (LOL…think of the money I’m saving on manicures!) I’ve got loads of ideas and have had special requests come in and all of that, along with regular sales is great motivation…for everything but new Joolz. Oh, I’ve got ideas there, and once I have a few new tools that I need to implement the ideas, I’m sure the motivation and creativity will come together.

In the meantime, I’m contemplating shows and whether to pursue some with the metal and bead caps. But that’s for another post.


Ornament Thursday: Holiday Sparkle Fan Pull

ornamentbanner150Welcome to another Thursday of ornaments and decorative items for the holidays!

I’ve got a sparkly red fan pull to dress up a ceiling fan or lamp switch for the holidays.

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This beauty starts with a handmade glass lampwork bead…this one is by Fay Katherine, an online bead friend.  It is swirly red glass and sparkly silver dichro glass encased in clear. I’ve wired it with sterling silver wire onto a fan pull finding. Add a couple of Bali silver beadcaps and a silver spacer and you’ve got a one-of-a-kind decorator item. Great for gifts too!

Here’s another angle:

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Check out the other creative ideas from the Ornament Thursday group.

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Make a Confetti Ring to Wear at Your Next Holiday Party!

Linda’s snowman
Some paper, beads, and fabric are transformed into an adorable snow guy.

Poinsettia Madness
Beautiful poinsettias in glass.

Poinsettia Ornament
Polymer clay and glittery snow recreate a Christmas memory

Strands of Beads
Melissa has a quicker than quick snowball pendant for a perfect last minute gift.


Beads, Beads, Beads! (plus a few marbles and an alien or two)

It’s a “Glass Menagerie”! All my favorite things (OK, those of you who know me, know that it really isn’t ALL, but it is a pretty great selection!).

I just got this great handmade bead display from Fire -n- Sand on Etsy…and now it sits just to the left of my monitor filled with glassy treasure purchased, won or gifted from artists around the world. And surrounded by my marble collection too!

Before today, some of these lovelies were on the acrylic “stuff collector” and most were in trays behind my monitor…I could pull them out to look at, but it wasn’t easy. I’ve been looking for something to display them and nothing quite worked…either too large or too expensive or just not quite right. Now when I need a moment to drift away and relax, I can just look  over at some of my favorites beads and sculptures. I can recall how I got them, what show I was at or what friend I was with. I can reorganize them if I choose (though my alien friends only fit on top row, so they might end up with their own home). In time some are destined for jewelry for me and some will sit as they are, needing no further adornment.

I’m already looking around to see where I can place another one…the only possible choice right now would replace my business phone…hmmm…probably not a good idea, but tempting!

What other ideas do you have for displaying your favorite beads?


Showtime…again

I’m off to Tucson early for the spring version of Girls Night Out at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. A 2-hour drive, 3-hour set-up, 7-hour show, 90 minute tear-down and you have one heckuva long day. My good friend, Deb Leone, is going with me to help me run the booth and keep me company.

I’ve got quite a few new spring pieces (with about 10 bracelets that just need toggles and prices all packed up for the inevitable lulls) including these two necklaces (very quick pics…if they sell, that’s as good as it gets; if not, I’ll reshoot them for you):

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Can you spot what’s different with these two pieces?

If you said “Hmmm…doesn’t look like silver,”  you are right. I fell in love with some wonderful triple coated Vermeil Karen Hill Tribe beads from The Bead Goes On while I was in Tucson last month. I rarely step far from sterling silver and regular Hill Tribe silver, but every so often a lampwork bead set calls to me and it screams “use gold for a change!” and I had to listen.

The top necklace features some incredible top-drilled freshwater pearls and artisan glass beads from Rhapsody Fire Beads. The bottom necklace has these yummy pink and gold free form artisan glass beads from Inner Realm Creations.

I’m hoping they attract some attention at the show as they are really stunning in person.

Wish me luck!


Happy New Year!

Some of my friends are already enjoying 2008 and the rest of us won’t be far behind.

As we close out 2007, I want to thank all my beady friends for their support of my Melonhead Joolz. Their donations of artisan-made lampwork beads in watermelon colors and shapes enabled me to make a variety of Melonhead Joolz that were sold at shows or from my website, or were donated outright as silent auction items for Melonhead Foundation events through the year.

I was updating my records and it looks like a total of about $895 was raised  for Melonhead from Joolz by Lisa. I could not have done it without the generosity of these lovely women.  And I still have some melon-themed beads to work into jewelry so 2008 will be another good year for Melonhead Joolz!

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Amber’s beads…

Just a quick post today (before the day ends)…I love opening this page and seeing the bracelet in the header! I’ll change it out from time to time but it fits the changing season for now (though with another 100+ degree day here in Phoenix, the season is still “HOT”.

I love designing jewelry and my favorite elements to design with are artisan-made glass lampwork beads, freshwater pearls, and sterling silver accents. More about “artisan-made” beads in another post. The cube shaped beads in the bracelet above were handcrafted by Amber Van Meter of Naos Glass.  Amber makes organic style lampwork beads from her studio in Colorado and is know for her love of etching the beads (which removes the shine in favor of a velvety finish). These cubes are unetched and I love how they met their match with the freshwater pearls.

Check out Amber’s site for more of her lovely beads! And look for more introductions to the artists whose beads turn into “Joolz“!