Thursday, July 26, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
I will be absent from the blog until next Thursday, as the San Diego show is coming up quickly and I still have many more beads to make, beads to clean, beads to price and beads to photograph.
I also have to make at least three more Bead Unique bead swap projects which I have "yet" to start for Softflex Sonoma. So lots on my plate. Where's my clone when I need her?
See you next week for the Thursday Tease post.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I had a phone appointment with my editor to talk about the next steps of the book this afternoon. By the way, this is the only way to get a hold of me - send me an email that you will call on a certain day, at a certain time. Is that bad of me or just being very organized? Back to the book - because the book projects are quite technical and geared towards intermediate/advance beaders (with some chain and wire included), the concern was how many of the thirty projects would fit in the book. You see, publishers allot a certain page count to books usually in multiples of 16. I learned this today. Surprisingly I didn't ask how many pages my book was going to be from the beginning. Before I spoke to my editor, I had gone through some of the page counts of recent books from Interweave. I saw 112, 128 and 240. Most of the books were in the range of 112 or 128 pages. So this was one of the questions I finally inquired with my editor. It turns out my book will be *144* pages. This is spectacular news, especially because most Interweave books average 112 and 128. Even with 144 pages, we will not be able to fit in all thirty projects. Oh well.
So the phonecall was to discuss the priorities. Eighteen of the thirty projects were selected to be definite "in the book" category. Eight projects were selected as optional additions should there be extra pages. The remainder projects from these eight not selected will most likely be snatched up by Beadwork magazine. All great news because if I take the time to design a project, I would like it to be published. Four projects were not selected based on several factors which I agree with. Two were not related to the theme as closely as the chosen projects, one was similar to that published already in BW, and the last one had a component that would be difficult to find (even if I really liked this design especially). I think the "jury" selected the projects I would have if I had to omit some.
So I am a bit jazzed today because we are moving forward. The projects are now with the technical editor who will tweak my instructions and condense them. I tend to be a bit wordy with my instructions to make sure I cover everything. After the TE is done, I get to give it a once over. Interweave will be taking test shots for potential covers in the next few weeks. I like the fact that they are keeping me in the loop throughout the process and will send me the photos for my opinion in two weeks. Then the layout editor jumps in and I will have a final once over by end of this year to get it ready for a Spring 2008 launch at Bead Expo Portland!
Of all the editors I've worked with, I would have to say that I am immensely impressed by the professionalism, openness, and approachability of the Interweave team. Everyone I've worked with have been so nice.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I often get asked at shows "How long does it take you to make a bead?" Uhmmm, what bead? Different beads take different times to make. There is no real definitive answer to this question. It depends on the day, the hour, the temperature, the style, etc. There are many factors. Is this a question asked to place a value on a bead? I know some glass bead artists price their work based on how long it takes them to make a bead. I price my work based on that, some, but also "market research", materials used and affordability to the end consumer ----> the beader. My prime goal as an artist is to make glass art that evokes my vision, which may move another person who sees it to want to own it. I do that with color and texture mostly, but also with a story that drives the series. I would like to see the beader incorporate my beads into their work so the story continues with a different author. I am always thrilled to see my beads in a finished piece and used in a manner which I may not have originally intended or envisioned.
So back to the question of how long it takes to make a bead. If I am working on a familiar style and having a good day, I will be quicker than I am when I am not or prototyping. For example, this last weekend, I made about 12 or so test beads over two days, working out some ideas I've had for many months. It has been EXTREMELY hot here in Southern California. Was I being productive? Is it important that I only made 12 beads, that aren't necessarily all that beautiful and are never going to be sold, amidst getting ready for the three August shows? No, because my focus was more on developing a vision, not on productivity or saleability. What I accomplish in two days took me closer to making my vision become reality. Sometimes it takes me a few hours, a few days, a few months or even a few years to develop an idea.
James McNeill Whistler:
"An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision."
I really like this quote I found by Whistler. If another artist takes 1 hour to make his/her bead, will it be worth more than the bead that took half the time? I am an engineer by training and as a past engineer, I am always looking for ways to improve my skills and perfect my techniques. What took me half an hour to make a year ago now takes me maybe 15 minutes (but I also do some prep work too). Does this mean now that I've worked hard for a year to perfect my skills, I should get paid half as much, since it only takes me half the time now? I think solely pricing one's work based on time is inaccurate. If a beginner beadmaker takes 2 hours to make a bead, should he/she charge twice as much? So like Whistler states, you are not paying an artist for her labor, but for her vision. (I took the liberty of feminizing his quote. hahaha)
I enjoy making bead series instead of beads with no theme/story. Some people may think that this gets boring because "you are duplicating the same bead". Am I really? Or am I just continuing to explore the many facets of my original story. I think multiplicity improves an artist's skill. The more you do something, the better you become at doing it - at least you should. Remember you are not paying for the labor but for the vision - the story. Even in creating and developing a glass bead series, each bead is unique - a piece to a bigger puzzle. Although the results for the most part can be replicated in following similar steps, there are many factors that will make THAT bead, different from it's predecessors and different from future beads. A series becomes an artist's signature works. Signature works in one's repertoire is recognizable as their voice or style.
Andrew Kuntz, a glass artist himself, said "I find working with glass meditative, almost therapeutic. I can leave the world behind, and focus... The simplicity of form, the drama of rich, intense colour, the joy of challenge, and the challenge of endurance... The piece, when it is over, is not what is made, but how it is made." I should add that "when it is over, it is not what is made, how long it took to make it, how many is made, but how it is made."
And now that I've finished my daily cup of coffee, I continue to my labor of love - to the glass studio for a busy day.
Have an excellent day, Lisa
Monday, July 16, 2007
I made a few test beads again yesterday, six in total. I am still working on the details of the new series. I also played with some of the new reactive glasses I had stashed away for many months and years. By now, these glasses are not new but they are to me. I have never been one to follow trends so tend to work on "new glasses" on my own time and schedule. I'll have to come back to the reactive glasses later when I have more time to play. I have so many waiting in the wings.
After encasing most of the test beads the last two days, I made one yesterday which I just left alone. And it only took this one bead for me to decide, "YES!". I decided that some details of "rawness" was lost when the bead was encased and I want this bead to look a bit roughed up. I've made previous test beads many months ago using similar techniques. Interestingly, portions of this bead appears to be etched without being etched. So I am ALMOST there - I have the shape, the texture and basic layout. The most important will be the canes and colors. That is the next step. I see this series as ever evolving because there is so much potential to add to the design in the future.
And you thought a bead was just melted glass on a mandrel in a pleasing shape. There is a lot thinking involved as well as trial and error.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
It has to be just right and it is not yet. I have a fantastic shape and an alternate version too but the elements are not "perfect" yet. I'm prototyping a bit today but will most likely switch to a familiar style to continue preparing for those August shows. I still do not have enough beads.
It is much easier to replicate the results of a familiar style. I've already iron out all the details and mechanics. Sometimes a little time away and focusing on another task will bring insight to what I am not seeing or feeling now. I think it's a great idea and theme but I just need a bit longer to get it right. And if it's not "just" right and it's not ready, I will not introduce it in the August shows.
Why do I do this to myself? I can't help being a perfectionist! Working and thinking like this, helps me grow as an artist. I believe I am my most critical critic. I am critical of my own work because I want my beads to be special to the person who buys it. It's not just a bead to me, it's my story.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
So here are the torches in the studio:
1. Little Smith's - for metalsmithing but hasn't been used for a long time. I set aside metalsmithing to focus on glass but I will eventually combine the two mediums.
2. Minor (Nortel) - my first lampworking torch that I decided to keep since some of the new reactive glasses work better on this torch.
3. Lynx (GTT) - my second lampworking torch that I use when I want to work HOT and for boro beads.
4. Mini CC Plus (Carlisle) - my third lampworking torch that I love because of it's radiant heat. I use this for my florals, especially.
5. Volcano Air Torch - my most recent addition to the studio from Japan. This torch will teach me how to work slower and with Satake glass. It will be a torch I go to when I want to relax and just learn for art's sake. Thank you to my mentor, Michael Barley.
I use two Puritan Bennett oxygen concentrators connected in parallel so larger torches than what is in the studio now will not come without more investment. I have a third concentrator sitting in the wings in case one of the two main machines goes out.
Besides these torches, I have an AF99 Arrow Springs kiln with digital controller, a small enameling kiln that converts to a keumboo station, a PMC kiln, a belt sander, a Foredom flexshaft, a tumbler, a mini polisher, a huge metal shear and too many other toys to list.
Today is an experimental day on the Mini CC Plus. I've been thinking about a new series for the past month. I have the name and basic idea of the series. And as of 10 minutes ago, I now have a very nice shape to further explore. I need to play more with the "decorative elements" as there needs to be a happy balance - not too much and not too little - worked in colors that tells the bead's story. On days like these, one has to be patient. Not many beads will result and they may not be all that pretty. The intent is to teach and not all beads are made to be sold. What's more important is exploring and learning what the glass will/can do.
If a glass artist can duplicate her results, then she has learned her lesson well. Back to the flame as the eager student.
Friday, July 13, 2007
I'm a bit crazy with organizing my books and magazines. Each magazine is protected by a sheet protector (if it fits) and then in chronological order on one of three IKEA Billy bookshelves (the tallest one - 79.5") in the studio. Each bookshelf has glass doors so I can see through. Hardcover dust jackets are covered with Brodart archival sheets just like the libraries. Is this excessive? As a book lover, I don't think so, since books are one of my most prized possessions. The three bookshelves in the studio stores just the books and magazines related to my craft. I have another three bookshelves in the upstairs library designated for my other books. I'm also eyeing the three other bookshelves in the library with my husband's name on them. Am I being greedy? Yes. How many books are too many books? I don't think I have nearly enough resources and intend to fill every corner of this house with books and MORE books! (Please don't tell my husband, Nick!)
Anyhow, I was thumbing through the summer issue of The Flow Magazine last night and Milon Townsend's article on Creativity piqued my interest. Since I've been talking about inspiration in the last few posts, the topic of creativity goes hand in hand. Milon spoke about documenting your ideas on a moment's notice, to keep pen and paper close at hand, as ideas come and go.
I often carry a notepad and pen in my purse for this purpose even before reading Milon's article. Once I was in a movie theater watching a movie with my sister and brother in law. I can't recall the movie but while sitting there I heard something in one of the previews and went to my purse to get my notepad. Oh no, it wasn't there (why wasn't it there?), so I quickly grabbed any piece of paper (it happened to be a store receipt) and jotted down some words. My sister in law, both amused and puzzled, asked me "what are you doing?" I can't tell you how many bits of paper I have on my desk right now or in my purse. Sometimes the notes are just a few words and other times they are rough sketches. Some ideas are immediately explored but others may just live on paper until it's the right time. Some papers get lost or misplaced only to be found at the aha! moments.
Did you get what I just stated? "live on paper". Yes ideas begin to have life when they are written down. And when you are ready to explore these ideas, they may undergo a metamorphosis and become much more than you first imagined. It takes time to cultivate an idea. No one just sits down and makes masterpieces. And some ideas may not be all that great but they lead you in the right direction to new discoveries.
When is a good idea a good idea? When it is executed, even if it's not successfully at first, it may grow into a GREAT idea later as something very different than how it began. When is a good idea a bad idea? When it is not attempted.
Now, isn't creativity grand? Are you ready with pen and paper at a moment's notice? Get to it! What are you waiting for, start writing and sketching ideas down.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Aren't these colors wonderful and the subtle texture too!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I often get asked where I find inspiration for my work in both glass and finished jewelry mediums. Maybe I am lucky, but I see inspiration everywhere and in very ordinary things. Hey, I've gotten inspired by a tree branch! Perhaps I have a vivid imagination. My main problem is that I don't always have the time to immediately delve right in and explore these visions/ideas. Some ideas go unexplored or are forgotten temporarily to be revisited many days, months and even years before it takes fruition. I don't think one necessarily has to jump into an idea without first planning the execution. I have a few ideas that took me several years to plan in my mind and then when it finally came time to execute, the design came together naturally. Perhaps you are one to just jump right in, design as you go, and wing it. If this works for you, I'm not here to knock it. This is just how I approach my own designs as I see myself often, as a story teller.
Let me provide an example to illustrate what I am attempting to convey. Look through any magazine with plenty of photos, and stop at the first picture that catches your eye. It may be the colors, the composition, the subject, the catch phrase, company slogan, whatever that said to you "stop and look at me". Study this photo. In marketing and advertising, this is what they call "branding" but what I like to refer to as "telling a story" through words or images. "Geez Lisa, What are you getting at?". When you create something, whether it be a glass bead, a piece of jewelry, a painting, a sketch - whatever your artistic medium - what do YOU WISH to convey to your audience and what is the story you wish to tell? Perhaps you have no story to tell. That is your prerogative if you design this way. But let's approach this exercise in a different light for a moment and play with me. This separates "art" from "craft".
If I say "it does a body good" and "white mustache" (provided you haven't lived in a cave for the last century) you would probably tell me "you're talking about the milk ad". And if I say "Just do it", you'll smartly answer "Nike". That is "branding" in marketing and advertising. And that is what an artist should want to achieve and aim for in their work. That is what I want to achieve with mine. An artist desires to have a unique voice in their art medium. There will always be the natural inclination for people to compare one artist to another, this can't be avoided. The crafter is more concerned about finishing the project. The artist will wait until their art is ready to speak. What story does your work tell about you? What are you trying to tell with your work? If not, why don't you want your work to have it's own voice? I will explore these topics more in upcoming posts.
In the meantime, I would like to share the artist profile interview that Australian Beading (AB) wrote of me in their premiere issue, earlier this year. The article discusses the topics inspiration and artistic voice. Just click the article image to open a bigger window. Unfortunately, at this time, the magazine is not available in the States yet but I will keep you informed when they are made available here. I will be writing periodically for Australian Beading next year as they will be bi-monthly from 2008. Hooray! The articles for AB are written gratis but they allow me to reach a bigger audience and share my love of design with the WORLD.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I don't know about you but I have a fascination and affinity for the color purple, especially. I mean is it a bit too much if I have a purple stapler with purple staples? And it doesn't end there as I use purple tissue paper to wrap my beads at shows (2 shades, mine you.) Then we can't forget the purple paper shopping bag. I happen to be wearing a purple T-shirt this morning (I didn't mastermind this coincidence, by the way) as I write today's entry.
I am often inspired by nature in all it's glorious colors but there is just something about the color purple and it's variations. Here are some interesting "purple" facts I found: (Learn more about purple on Wikipedia)
- Any of a group of colors with a hue between that of violet and red.
- Cloth of a color between violet and red, formerly worn as a symbol of royalty or high office.
- Imperial power; high rank: born to the purple.
- Roman Catholic Church
- The rank or office of a cardinal.
- The rank or office of a bishop.
- Of the color purple.
- Royal or imperial; regal.
- Elaborate and ornate: purple prose.
- Purple cow - something remarkable, eye-catching, unusual
- Purple prose - exaggeration, highly imaginative writing (also has negative connotations - colorful lies)
- Purple speech - profanity, raunchy language
- Purple haze - state of confusion or euphoria, possibly drug-induced, type of marijuana
Purple Descriptive Words: These words are synonymous with purple or represent various shades of the color purple. Violet, plum, lavender, lilac, fuchsia, puce, thistle, orchid, mauve, magenta, royal, amethyst, wine, pomegranate, eggplant, mulberry, aubergine, heliotrope.
The Seduction of Purple: I am often seduced in using purple in my glasswork and jewelry designs. I often collect images that provide me with visual stimuli, speak to me or inspire me in some form to emulate later in my various projects. From time to time, I will share some of these images on the blog. Mother nature is breathlessly beautiful and I hope some of these images inspire you too.
Monday, July 9, 2007
Once upon a time, I worked as a senior quality assurance engineer at a computer display company. The company was downsizing and their focus was no longer on "quality" but on profit, so the entire department was eliminated on April 20, 2005. I was only six days shy of being there ten years. So much for sticking in there and working towards that company logo (I think it was gold) watch. Too bad for them but good for me. While other long time employees received the same news and cried upon being laid off, I jumped for joy inside. I had been working towards becoming full time with my glasswork, but had planned to make the leap in 2007 or 2008. Well, sometimes things happen in our lives for a reason and Father Time was telling me to get to it.
One of the engineering directors also got let go and quickly took a position in a competing company just a few blocks away. He asked me in an email several weeks later, "Do you need a job?". I happily replied (paraphrasing my original reply but these were the sentiments) "No, I think it's time to leave the corporate world and engineering to work on my glass. BUT I will call you, if for some reason things don't work out." I haven't made that call yet, haven't looked back and don't miss the corporate world at all. Does it matter that I went to school all those years to get a BSEE only to work on glass now? Are you kidding? Besides, working with glass is very technical and so my engineering skills have not gone for naught.
What does this have to do with Michael Barley? I consider Michael's class as the first I have taken (outside of the initial beginning lampwork classes I took at the San Gabriel Bead Company so I would learn the basics and how not blow up the garage.) I consider myself predominantly self-taught but this also means I have unconventional beadmaking habits that may be wrong to some but right to me. Hey, if the results are the same, does it matter how you get there? Well maybe.
Last week, I received a Japanese Volcano Air Torch from Michael. He had an extra torch from a Japanese friend that taught at his studio earlier this year. When I recently voiced that I was "tempted" to play with Satake glass, Michael offered the torch to me with all the accoutrement. It was just the natural next step to jump in and get the right gear. I love new toys and gadgets so couldn't resist! And thanks to Michael, I now have the right tools and will work on the right skills soon. I really won't have time to play with the torch but when I do, it is here waiting for me!
The flame SHOOTS vertically up, which will take some time getting used to. I've lit the torch up, at a safe distance, a few times just to make sure everything was working. I've successfully made two simple spacer beads as well.
Why another torch? Satake glass is very soft with a COE (coefficient of expansion) of 120. The higher the COE, the softer the glass. As a comparison, Moretti/Effetre and Vetrofond has a COE of 104, Gaffer/Spectrum/Reichenbach has a COE of 96, Bullseye has a COE of 90 and Northstar/Glass Alchemy has a COE of 33. American torches would boil and bubble the Satake glass, as we tend to work hotter. Besides, have you seen the lovely Satake lead glass palette? I'm a color junkie and was converted instantly after seeing some of the beautiful Satake beads Michael makes. Not many American bead artists are using Satake, although the numbers are growing, so another enticing prospect. Besides, I'm a gigantic fan of Japanese esthetics and arts, so if I am going to discover tonbodama (Japanese beadmaking) then I might as well do it with Japanese glass and a Japanese torch!
What's neat about this torch is that it is an "air" torch. The torch only requires propane and air to work. An air pump is used and is so much more quieter than my Puritan Bennett oxygen concentrators! The softer flame also means one will be working slower but the rewards for patience is overwhelming.
The fantabulous Craig Milliron of Arrow Springs, an engineer's dream and magical toolmaker, was nice enough to entertain my emails on Satake's annealing schedule. Now my kiln is programmed and ready to go. It will take some time until I'll be ready to launch any bead series with Satake but it is something to look forward to. So, let the Satake adventures begin.
Now if only I can engineer a way to add more time to a day so I can pump up the volume on my production schedule. Hmmmm...
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Bead Fest Philly moved to a new location and moved up to new dates, from October to August. Otherwise, do you think I would be this crazy to schedule three major shows in one month! It will be a hectic few weeks, but what else is new? This heat is not helping at all and the pressure is high but I'll try my best. "The heat is on", literally and figuratively, as in Glenn Frey's song:
Inside your head, on every beat
And the beat's so loud, deep inside
The pressure's high, just to stay alive
Cause the heat is on
Saturday, July 7, 2007
So the beginning of this blog on 070707, is also the end. Not THE end. We just started. It is the end of nearly ten months of hard work, in between exhibiting at many bead shows, making hundreds of beads, and writing for bead publications. Just about a month ago, June 11th to be exact, I finished the last set of submissions for the draft of my first book, tentatively titled Bead Romantique. The book is being published by Interweave Press and is due out April 2008. I can't believe I'm done because when I signed the contract late August 2006, I had to pinch myself and thought "what did I get myself into, how am I going to do it and what am I going to write about?" Don't get me wrong, I was definitely ecstatic and on cloud nine. Who wouldn't be to be given this opportunity, but it was a bit overwhelming because I didn't plan for this. First, I thought my glasswork would suffer in the interim but instead I was able to create two new glass series, Nouveau and Ginkgo, from working on the book.
Now that I am done designing, creating and writing THIRTY proposed projects, I had much more I wanted to write, share and design but that just means a possible second book, if everyone loves this one. Right now though, I would like to develop some ideas and return my focus to glass. I'll still be writing and designing for bead publications (as I LOVE to write!) but not with the same intense fervor of deadlines involved in compiling a book.
It has been a dream of mine to write a book, not necessarily THIS book. I just knew I wanted to write a book in my lifetime. And when the opportunity presented itself, I knew I had to just make it happen no matter what it took, how hard I had to work or how many sleepless nights I had to endure. I mean, how often does someone (one of the largest craft book and magazine publishers - Interweave Press) asks YOU to write a book? The biggest challenge was of course finding "time" but also switching my thinking cap between glass and beadwork, multiple times. My extensive research library and appreciation for historical jewelry designs supplied me with many inspirational ideas. I will tell you more about the book in future posts.
I hope to educate, to inspire and to promote creativity through my writings here, there and everywhere. I know there's not much to see or read now but as with anything new - it just takes time to decorate. So, stay a bit and come back often to check up on my creative adventures, my travels and musings.