Isn't it funny how events and meetings happen at certain times and in hindsight, it looks as though it all happened for a very particular reason. In my case - learning how to make glass beads! I have been making jewellery for over a decade, trawling through markets and bead fairs around the world to find beautiful gemstones and glass beads and creating jewellery collections which I have sold in galleries and showcased in exhibitions.
One fine summer morning in February, I was surfing on the net in a random fashion, letting one website lead me to another, when I stumbled across this glass artist who was making the most divine looking rings. I googled her name, found her website and discovered many more stunning pieces of her work and links to other glass artists.
Eventually I discovered the infamous Sarah Hornik's website and was blown away with the quality and style of her beads. I spent some time reading through her website and felt inspired to learn how to make glass beads.
I googled 'glass beadmaking' in New Zealand and landed on the Born to Bead website, a glass studio based in Auckland. On closer inspection, I couldn't believe my luck and the coincidence of it, Sarah Hornik was coming to New Zealand in May to run two workshops!! What a result!
I knew immediately that despite having no experience of making glass beads, I was going to sign up for the intermediate/ advanced Sarah Hornik course! I called the Born to Bead Studio and Lisa Jane Harvey, the owner and resident artist suggested I do a two day beginners course in preparation for Sarah's workshop.
Lisa-Jane is a great teacher and I was fortunate enough to have her one-on-one for two full days, teaching me the basics and more. When I had finished the course, it dawned on me just how much there is to learn about working with glass, colour reactions, heat control etc etc... It also dawned on me that I would be doing four days with Sarah Hornik in less than a month away and I would have little time to practice my new skills, as I was flying back to the UK the next day and arriving back in NZ the following month, the day before Sarah's course! Nothing like cutting it fine!
The Sarah Hornik Workshop
When I arrived, I introduced myself to the other seven ladies attending and it soon became apparent to me that they all had a minimum of two years lampworking experience! ekkk....
I shared a torch with Sarah (see below - I am in black!) , which worked out really well as I was able to see her demo's very clearly and take lots of notes! I was surprised at first how well I was keeping up and my beads were actually turning out pretty good. I thought maybe this was beginners luck... I soon got my confidence up and very quickly, I was loving it and achieving results.
In hindsight, doing the two day course with Lisa-Jane was invaluable and her precise style and meticulous way of working gave me a good grounding. Sarah's beads and teaching style is much more organic and I soon realised this was a style I felt comfortable working in. I like the unknown element of making organic beads, especially when you take them out of the kiln and they are completely different than you expected! (Sometimes this is not a good thing!)
My brand new studio
With only six days of lampworking under my belt, I felt driven and inspired to carry on working with glass. I decided to bite the bullet, leaving a substantial dent in my bank balance and brought a Minor torch and a Paragon SC2 Kiln. I figured if I was going to do this, I wanted to do it properly and have the best equipment that I could afford. I now lampwork everyday and already I am working on my own collection and style. Lisa -Jane from Born to Bead has been a great help and given me some good advice.
I joined the NZGBA (New Zealand Glass Bead Association) and recently won the Beginners category in the annual National Bead Competition, with a bead I made on my first day (below), with less than five hours torch time!
I have been accepted as one of four jewellers to showcase my work at the Pocket Rockets Exhibition, held in August in Dunedin, NZ.
I am going to use this space to share my personal discovery of glass. Stay tuned!