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Author Topic: AOTM September 2008 - Billie  (Read 3712 times)
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Mad Beady Woman and
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« on: August 31, 2008, 01:41:27 PM »

Billie Jean Little

My sister-in-law took a course with Kristina Logan in Germany back in May 2006.  When I then visited the in-laws on our annual summer holiday to France in September my father-in-law had set up a studio for himself and he asked me one evening if I wanted to see how to make glass beads.

I made my very first bead that September evening with my father-in-law and was hooked.  My husband James asked me if lampworking was something I'd be interested in pursuing once we were home.  I'd given birth to our second daughter 6 months earlier, was a stay at home mum and he knew I wanted to find a hobby so I had some "me time".  We had discussed setting up an art studio as painting and sketching were my passion and I wanted to try my hand at clay, but then after being introduced to lampworking I knew this was something I wanted to try.  James wouldn't let me set a studio up at home until I'd done a class with a professional lampworker so as soon as we got home from France that summer I began searching for classes on Google.  I came across Pauline Holt (Jazzy Lily) who was about a half hour drive away and booked a weekend with her at the end of November 2006.  James then got me a starter kit from Martin Tuffnell for Christmas and I made my first bead at home, in my kitchen, on my hot head torch, a couple of days after Christmas.

(this is the first bead I made on my hot head!)

As well as my introductory class was with Pauline Holt I was able to do a days class with Dora Schubert at Stourbridge in August 2007 before we relocated to France.  Last October I did a 6 hour return trip to Glassworks in Belgium to do a days class with Sarah Hornik.  These beads were produced after the class with Sarah.  I found I really liked playing with raked and pushed shapes.

I admire anyone who is willing to explain, teach, and share their techniques.  There are a lot of amazing artists who are prepared to give classes and write tutorials now, and I think that's wonderful.

Its tricky to work out where I get my inspiration from - I know everyone says nature, but looking through any window from our house you see trees, trees, and more trees (OK, also horses and cows).  We're in the Lorraine Alsace region of France, bordering Belgium and Luxembourg, and we have huge swathes of forest all around.  I enjoy making tree and vine beads for the stringer work, and also, in autumn, the blend of colours that assault you as soon as you leave the house are just incredible.  I'm a real "earth tone" person anyway, so the blends of browns and golds really draw my eye.

Additionally, having 2 young girls, we have a stack of films that feature fairies and princesses and all sorts of mythical creatures.  The colour blends on these films are awe inspiring.  The colour combinations I use in a lot of my beads are taken films like Fairytopia and Aladdin!

I'm not sure I'll ever have a signature bead. Too many styles appeal and I'm always wanting to experiment.  I still consider myself a novice at lampworking and there are a lot of techniques I've not tried yet, let alone mastered.

I want to bring mixed media to my work - PMC and, when we're in our own home and I can set up my own studio, porcelain.  Then there's electroforming, sandblasting.... the list is endless.

I have two special beads; my proudest and favourite.  I'd had a play with tree beads but really wanted to find my own style and this is what I came up.

And this is my current favourite.  I was asked to make a Rennie Mackintosh styled bead for a winestopper.

My personality comes out in how I organise myself before I turn the torch on.  I'm always doodling bead designs into a notebook during the course of the week.  Then when I finally get into the cellar at the weekend I spend at least half an hour in front of my glass rack pulling out rods of colours which I think will go together, lay them out, stare at them and decide which colour will be laid out on the mandrel next to the other, which will be layered on top of another...  Then when the torch is on, I pull stringers or twisties with the combinations of colours.  My time at the torch is so limited I often feel very tense and under pressure to create something so I can say my time has been productive and going through this little process relaxes me.  More often than not I will end up with a jar of cold water filled with frit after four hours, but I can also say in a way that has been productive because I also learn what does and doesn't work from that and where to go with an idea the next time at the torch.

There's a bit of a list of work keeping me going: I'm working on 2 wedding commissions - one for wedding jewellery needed in November, and the second is for one of my oldest friends.  We met in infant school over 30 years ago, she gets married on September 20th in the Isle of Wight, and I'm making a hairvine for her to wear in place of a tiara.  In addition I'm working on commissions for winestoppers, and also focal beads for the ISGB/Bead & Button four elements challenge with Lynn Davy, and cabachons for collaborative work with a jewellery designer based in Toulouse.  At the back of my mind I'm also vaguely hoping to have my website re-stocked with beads, jewellery and gift items by the end of October with Christmas in mind.... With only 4 hours at the torch per week, I think the website might be forgotten about until the new year.

The best place to look to see what I'm up to is
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 06:09:43 AM by mizgeorge » Logged

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