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Author Topic: AOTM August 2011 - Helen Wyatt  (Read 8362 times)
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I hold with those who favor fire.
Posts: 869

I'm working on a dream...

« on: July 31, 2011, 12:12:05 AM »

Helen Wyatt

How did you get started in glass bead making?

I have always loved lampwork beads, and marvelled at their beauty - but it never occurred to me that I might be able to make them myself (let alone one day be AOTM on FritHappens!)  I have always been very "crafty"- I made cards for a while, tried silver clay, and then turned my hand to making jewellery.  While I enjoyed that, I was rapidly becoming overrun with lots of necklaces and bracelets - and had nowhere to put them - and none of my family are girly, so they didn't want them as gifts!  This problem, combined with the fact that I'm very easily bored caused me to start looking for a new challenge - and I stumbled across an advert for a lampworking course in a magazine.  I thought that learning to make my own beads might "slow me down" a bit and stop me amassing even more trinkets - and how right I was!  Here's a picture of a necklace made with some of my very early beads:

Where and when did you light the torch for the first time?

Using Google, I found that Beverley Hicklin was the nearest tutor to me, and I booked a day's introductory course with her in September 2009.  I first lit the torch under her supervision in her wonderfully equipped studio, and was instantly hooked.  Despite loving the day I spent with her, I very nearly gave up at that stage.  I live in a first floor one bedroom flat, and just couldn't see how I would ever be able to torch in such a small space.  So I came home and ruminated on it for a few weeks, and finally got started on a hothead attached to an old computer table in my bedroom. I'm still working in a space that's about 3 ft x 2ft now. It just goes to show that where there's a will, there's ALWAYS a way!

Have you had any lessons? Where do you get your knowledge from?

Besides my introductory course with Beverley Hicklin, I've also been lucky enough to attend courses with Sarah Hornik and Anouk Jasperse. Here are the beads I made on my course with Sarah:

I also benefitted from watching Laura Sparling's free video on stringer control, and from watching the Secret of Stringer Control DVD which was lent to me by Denise (Hotglass28).  To be honest though, much of my early knowledge came from Jolene and SpecialKay- both of whom were so generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise when I was just getting started - thanks so much ladies, without your encouragement I'd have given up by now!  Generally I also just read lots of tutorials, and have read Passing the Flame cover to cover about 6 times.

Are there any bead makers or jewellery designers you admire? What for?

My favourite bead makers are Lorna Prime, for the incredible stringer work that I aspire to, Michou Pascale E. Anderson for her combination of colour and fine stringer work, and Beau Barrett for his awe inspiringly precise borosilicate creations in his EvolvingCreations Etsy store. I'm a bit obsessive compulsive, and anything precise and intricate has me hooked.

In terms of jewellery design, my absolute favourite is Nia Clement, whose designs are always so elegant and classy.  I've been honoured to sell a few sets of beads to her and literally jumped up and down with excitement when I saw some of her jewellery featuring my beads a month or so ago!

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I actually struggle quite a lot with inspiration.  I wouldn't describe myself as an "arty" person at all - I'm not someone who's at one with nature, or who takes much time to stop and marvel at their surroundings.  Normally if I sit at the torch for long enough, something pops into my head eventually, but occasionally I've started using for colour inspiration when I have none of my own - and it really helps!

Have you got a 'signature' style? How would you describe it?

I'm not sure I have a signature style - I'm a bit of a jack of all trades and master of none - partly because I get bored very readily.  I do get drawn back time and time again to stringer and dot work, because it's hard and frustrating and causes me to get in a temper - but it's never boring and I like that about it!!  Someone on the forum recently said in a PM to me "oh, you are the stringer lady", so perhaps that says something about the direction my work is headed...

What skill or technique would you like to learn - where would you like to take your art next?
It might surprise you, given the huge array of really complex beads out there, that I would actually really love to master simple, yet very precise beads like the ones created by Laura Sparling.  Her beads are so perfect, with not a flaw in sight -  I want to be able to create stunningly perfect scrolls at will!  Perhaps my next step should be to book a course with her.....

Which bead or piece are you most proud of - can you tell us the story behind it?

My favourite beads are normally whatever I've made most recently, and I rarely keep anything for myself.  However a few month's ago I was really proud of this lentil - it was my first decent bead using a 40mm lentil press, and I felt it actually brought together quite a few of the techniques I'd learnt from Anouk - not to mention the fact that the colour came out very nicely.  It's not often I make a bead that makes me feel proud, but this one did.

Which of your personality traits comes through in your work, do you think?

My low boredom threshold!!  It's very rare for me to repeat anything, or to make a similar set of beads twice in a row.  I even get bored making the same shape too often!  This has both pros and cons, as I've had comments from buyers that they like the variety in my Etsy shop, but then again, I never spend enough time on any one thing to get really good at it!  I was totally in awe of Kaz when she recently spent a whole weekend mastering encased florals by just making them over and over and over again - I'd have been a crazy mad woman by the end if I'd been forced to do that!

What are you currently working on?
I just got the hang of ruffle beads after struggling with them for ages, so I think I'll be making more at the weekend!

Where can we see more of your work?

I sell my beads via my Etsy shop:

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