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

8.13.2014 - Keeping it simple.

The first cool front of the summer rolled in last night, so it's coffee & oatmeal enjoyed on the deck on this gift of a summer morning - simple pleasures.  

It is so easy to over complicate the things we all do - daily.  I am constantly looking for that least common denominator - to knock it down a few notches, simplify, and get back to the basics.   

I'm heading towards photography and light today.  I started selling on eBay in 1999, at a time when there were fewer than five pages of lampwork listings.  It was all just beginning for us back then and the market was hungry for what were offering.  Listings sold for crazy high prices and it began a process of thinking for me.  "Online sales - how can you stand out?"

The means of promoting your items was through the photographs and descriptions in your listings, and the images needed to be drop-dead gorgeous with well written descriptions.  I have always loved the sexy side of photography - the careful arrangement of a set to capture crisp edges, a necessary reflection or the effect of a light flooded bead spilling out a color-filled shadow. 

These minute nuances of serenity and beauty - in their simplest of forms - were what caught and kept the attention of online buyers.  To allow them to enjoy the absolute sweetness of pure form and color - thoughtfully arranged and beautifully delivered.

It took me awhile to find my voice and understand how important the concept of being consistent was.  Early on, I photographed in natural daylight, I loved the sparkle my glass gave off in the sunlight, but quickly realized that sunlight had differing color "temperatures" depending upon time of day and season, this caused my images to be inconsistent. 

I moved indoors, giving up the sparkle and bought an illuminated light box and high(er) dollar equipment... (because we're used to "more is better" - right?) NOT.  Currently, and for perhaps the past eight years, I photograph indoors with an old 5megapixel Sony Cybershot camera on a piece of printer paper with two daylight lamps overhead.  


Keeping it simple... I strive for the quintessential compliment from customers - "I just received my beads and they're even prettier than the pictures!"  I love it.


ps - I am looking for a few more of these memory sticks:

if you have one, contact me and I'll give you a $50 credit (for a 128MB stick) to use towards purchases on my site.

8.6.2014 - It's all about choices... (I have an idea!!)

Each morning - we paint the way our day will eventually unfold. Whether it's the care we take with our appearance, the colors we select to wear OR even the music we absorb during the course of our day. 

There are times - such as today - when I ditched the idea of wearing black and opted for a wonderful  fuchsia linen top, I feel ALIVE in color - even if it's just to put together tonight's Weekly Wednesday Update  (I never get to actually leave the house on Wednesdays!) but I choose to feel good  - I get to set the stage to encourage this emotional lift.

I listen to music or talk radio each day and recognize the influence that my audio choices have on my work.  I absorb what I listen to in my environment and often see it 'float' to the surface of my work.  Change the music and see a different style bead!!

I just joined Spotify recently - and love the endless selection of music.  It's easy to compile playlists AND share them.  I am planning to put together some playlists of music that I love to listen to while I torch,  and IF I'm not mistaken, they can be easily shared!  So - stay tuned and I'll let you know when I've got one (or more) for you!


These were made during the Presidential election - I was deep in concentration, listening to the news.  I find that this fine stringer work (on 1/2"d beads) is relaxing as well as mindless after awhile - that day I filled the kiln to capacity! 

This style of bead came about when the US  invaded Afghanistan in search of Osama Bin Laden. I was so creeped out upon realizing this - I remember quickly shutting down work for the day.


The emergence of these Urban Chic Tile sets usually indicate a sense of personal joy or mark a shift of season, or just my listening to acoustic music.  Transparent glass usually dominates my work in the Spring, as I think its weightless appearance is especially appealing after a long dreary winter.

So, whether it's intentional or not - we do wear our emotions and are influenced easily by outside forces... what do you see in your work,  can you remember if significant events appeared in some way in what you produced?


7.25.2014 - Progression of an idea...

I have always enjoyed making raked/feathered beads and felt a distinct tug this morning in that direction.  I'd been reading about what has caused Terra 2 to be unlike the original Terra... so - set out to make a focal to see if I could get it to strike in all those wonderful ways.

I realized that I don't like the results from my experiment - as the green just has tinges of plummy/purples at the ends... but what I did like was the "fluke" design - its crispness... and although somewhat organic, the encasing makes it too dressy. IMHO

Terra 2 Fluke Focal - JillSymons.com

Next try is 'ditch' the Terra 2 - go for more drama... DH Psyche... While my results of late seem all over the place with this color - I am liking the "Kronos/Picasso blue/green OPAQUE color" I'm getting, and know if I hit it with a nice reducing flame - I can get some metallic effects.  YES!

Psyche Fluke Sm. Focal - JillSymons.com

So then we're off to the races... hmmm - how does one make a directional rake on a round cab.  I am taking the liberty of assuming that this will be set with this direction in mind.  I've raked up and down - while they do look like whale flukes, I now remember a focal I'd previously made - called Sea Grasses (yes, Louise - yours) - that had a similar look.  BUT.THIS.IS.A.CABOCHON. (so it's ok). 

This is the final result - *below* - I love it - and proceed to make two more! : )