8.20.2014 - Making it your own

We all start somewhere.

Like dry sponges, we soak up everything that's put before us.   We wrestle with techniques and diligently practice, practice,  practice.  

Starting anything is a journey where we are inspired by someone or something.  We emulate someone while learning the basics... while the world watches.

Back in late 1998 I saw lampwork beads on eBay that piqued my curiosity.  I searched online for resources about lampworking.  I eventually ended up on Sundance's site - making lists of what I'd need to get started.

...because you’ve been so diligent and read so thoroughly, we are offering a beginner’s set - free...

After devouring Sundance's site - I found a hidden reward link they'd posted that went something like this:  

Burnt Offerings - JillSymons.com first beads!!


I ordered the kit and was soon on my way.  It consisted of a small fiber blanket, release, mandrels and a few shorts of glass. I added a plumbers' torch from the local hardware and I was on my way.  The oxygen deprived flame scorched and muddied most of the opaque colors - but even so, I knew I was hooked!  I kept a blog for awhile where I posted images of my work's progression... take a look here: JillSymons.blogspot.com 

I also found an article in an early issue of Bead and Button magazine (circa 1996) that interviewed Andrea Guarino (Slemmons) (Please forgive my memory - as I can't find that issue anymore - but loosely - this is what it said to me.)  I strongly agree with what was said, that while we all  need to start somewhere - copying is ok, but it's always good manners to credit your teacher/source.  

February 1996 Bead and Button

It went on to say that when you master a technique, move on and modify it to make a design that's your own. In other words - Find Your Own Voice, this helps to define who you are as an artist.  While coming up with a design that is your own is great - it's usually not very long before people are copying it *in some form or another*... so - always be moving forward on to new things AND if you're still making that signature bead , you'd better make sure that YOU are the one who still does it best!  

My Weekly Wednesday Update each week has helped me always move my designs forward.  This is paramount in my work, as people come here looking for things that delight, new things each week, or they don't come back.  

I think many factors go into the making of an artist - these are just some of the things that shaped me into who I am and how I think...  what and/or whom inspired you?

Smiles, Jill

7.30.2014 - ISGB membership & the reasons...

Bear with me, as this is a convoluted means to an end...


Back in 2004, I fell in love with my new golden retriever, Sam.  He was a pup from an unknown KY backyard litter - he was awesome, then quickly he wasn't.  He ended up with two blown knees,  two expensive TPLO surgeries & eventually bone cancer - and we lost him before he was 9.



When it came to getting another golden, (enter Charlie) I bought one from a reputable breeder - what I learned there was amazing.  Debra Keen, of Brio Goldens shared her vast knowledge about the breed, & how the intent of breeders is to maintain the integrity of the line.  Breeding the best with only the best (hopefully) only helps to strengthen the line and keep hip, cancer, elbow, eyes, heart etc. issues to a minimum.

So - yes - here's my point.

Yesterday I was reading the ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers)  page/forum on FB - where Libby Leuchtman was talking about the importance of supporting the ISGB.  I, for many reasons, agree.  I have been making beads for over 16 years and learned in, what was essentially, a vacuum.  How would my experience have been different if I'd had people to bounce things off?

There was one post from a woman who questioned the $65 membership fee - why it was so important to join - going on to say how she was struggling to have money for glass, let alone this additional fee.  Within minutes there was an incredible outpouring of reasons supporting membership AND many, MANY offers to send her supplies!  What an incredible outpouring of support! I was totally floored.  This is more the norm than the exception... how cool is that?

I can tell you that over the years I've gone to the forum on the official ISGB site to look up technical questions, find resources, teachers & answers.  So - much like the breeder - the goal of this professional organization is to educate and promote this craft.  To help glass artists produce art that is in the upper echelons when it comes to quality.  It's very easy for this to be an incredibly solitary sport... and it's just so much nicer to have peers to encourage a direction or answer a nagging question.