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Author Topic: AOTM April 2009 - Karen Baildon  (Read 4832 times)
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I hold with those who favor fire.
Posts: 869

I'm working on a dream...

« on: March 30, 2009, 02:29:11 AM »

Karen Baildon
Cheeky Cherub Designs

When I first started making jewellery several years ago, like most people I bought lots of silver plate and imported beads and made cheap and cheerful designs that I happily sold to friends and colleagues. As time and my skills progressed, I started to buy more expensive Czech beads and sterling silver. I then went to my first bead fair and discovered lampwork beads. The very first sets I bought were simple frit beads by Mike Poole of Tillerman Beads. I soon acquired a taste for lampwork beads and bought many (oh, so many!) more over the ensuing months. In fact, I became an addict and a complete bead snob!

Then I decided I wanted to make my own. I was about to go for a long holiday in Australia to stay with my best friend in August 2007, so I investigated the possibility of a course in Adelaide and located Sharon Griffiths of Beads Indeed. I was hooked from the very first blob. I spent the next three weeks welded to a hothead torch in my friend’s garage.

When I got back from Oz, I spent a frustrating 3 months drooling over equipment, glass, books etc. but knew I had nowhere I could pursue this calling. Then my wonderful husband, Mark, found me a shop to rent which we have transformed into my little studio!

In the meantime, in November 2007 I took another lesson with Mike Poole whose beads and teaching style I admire very much. Mike was also able to advise me on what equipment and supplies to invest in. I started off with a Nortel Minor, one oxycon and a Paragon SC2 kiln. In the last 18 months, I have upgraded my torch to a Lynx, added another oxycon and invested in a Maxine kiln from Kilncare. I have also taken classes with Pauline Holt (Jazzy Lily) and Sally Carver (Red Hot Sal). I think lessons are invaluable and you don’t always realise til much later on just how useful they have been! During April I will be having a tutorial session with Lorna (Pixie Willow) whose beads I really admire.

Other beadmakers whose work inspires and thrills me include: Claire Morris, Dora Schubert and Mindy McGregor. I have yet to work out how anyone can bring the degree of precision to their work that Mindy does, but in the meantime it gives me something to aspire to. My own inspiration is very much colour-led and I try to have all the latest colours from all of the glass suppliers – which means I have a lot of glass. I often use hand-dyed yarn or natural combinations such as flowers as a starting point for colour combinations. But I’m not averse to nicking colour combinations from the odd tablecloth, piece of wallpaper and recently a leaflet from Boden! I have a lot of colour resource books too.

I am not sure what people would recognise as my signature style – I think it is different things to different customers. The main types of beads I like to make are: big, bumpy focals, little bumpy dotty sets, organics with lots of silver foil and sets with lots of reactions – especially with rubino.

I have always created things (and always been business-minded) – I made my first rag dolls aged 10 and got the man in the corner shop to sell them for me on commission! I sew, knit and crochet but have never been able to paint or draw – making beads gives me the creative outlet I have been looking for all my life and is now such an integral part of me, I can’t imagine ever not doing it. Recent courses I have taken in PMC and silversmithing have reinforced that melting glass is my true love! I feel I have mastered a lot of the basics and some of the more advanced skills, but I am still desperate to learn stringer control. I have recently started to teach other beadmakers but feel I cannot offer that particular element as I have not mastered it yet!

My greatest thrill (so far!) was to see this process through….

And I am very proud of this bead - it was the first big hole stacked bumpy I made and I did it on a hothead in Australia in October last year. I was so pleased with the precision of the dot placement - although my friends in Australia were a bit bemused by the level of my excitement!

At the moment, other than making beads for the website and upcoming bead fair, I am working on two mystery projects – all will be revealed in due course. I am also working on re-organising my studio so that I make better use of the vast collection of glass, frit, tools etc. that I seem to have amassed!

My beads, jewellery and handmade scarves/accessories can be found on my website and on etsy I also have a photo gallery on Flickr

I will also shortly be selling my wares at the Nantwich bead fair on 24th May alongside my two mates Diane Turton (SowZere) and Diane Cook (Dilunah) under the banner “Weird Sisters”!


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