I became enamored with glass back in the early ’70’s when I first saw an article in McCall’s magazine of crafts. Stained glass called me but I didn’t have the first clue where to look to get started. It was several more years and a move to Wyoming that finally put me in contact with a teacher. One class and I was hooked.
I spent hours and lots of money I really didn’t have learning the skills required to actually create something worthwhile. My first craft show taught me something about the generosity of people. My pitiful little offerings were … pitiful, LOL. But people bought them anyway. I have to tell you I almost didn’t go because I was just terrified. It’s a good thing I did because that one little show kept me going and determined to get better at what I was doing.
I did a lot of shows after that. Hubby always encouraged me in my creative endeavors and he even built a “booth” for me that I could easily knock down/set up all by myself. Some shows I did well, others were a bust but I learned something from every single one.
I moved my “studio” out of our small spare bedroom and out to a huge space in the old railroad depot. I barely managed to eke out the rent (which really wasn’t that much for over 400 square feet) but I felt “professional.” I tried my hand at fusing, leaded glass, copper foil, suncatchers, full size panels, and anything else I could think of.
Then glass beads caught my eye. Seed beads at first, and I taught myself the rudiments of beading when I wasn’t making something out of stained glass. And then … oh cruel fate, I read about a group of glass artists out in Washington state who were making glass beads. Well.
I had long harbored a desire to melt glass. My first exposure to such a novel approach to glass work was when I was 16 and visiting my uncle and his family out in California. They took me to DisneyLand where I watched with total fascination while a young man sculpted the most amazing things by melting glass with a torch. I still have the small glass swan pendant my Aunt bought for me that day. Years later I ran into this man in Arizona. Talk about a small world. He was now making beads and had a small shop. Of course I HAD to buy a new piece and they now both sit in my curio cabinet.
My adventures in melting glass were postponed however, as things usually are. I had to move my studio due to conflicts with the people who owned the old RR station. I found a smaller place but it was hidden away and no one knew I was there. I stayed about a year and then was forced to move everything back home when that building was sold. And then WE moved.
In 2001 I found a listing online for a beginning lampwork class in Denver and promptly signed up. I fell in love with it the minute I lit the torch. I came home a few days later, several hundred dollars poorer but with a brand new torch and a bunch of glass rods. Somewhere or other, probably eBay, I found a used oxygen concentrator, moved my car out of the garage and set up a worktable. Our neighbor, who was a welder, set up my torch for me (very professionally, to be sure) and I was off and melting.
And just like my first craft show with my pitiful stained glass offerings, my first (really BAD) beads sold. This time it was eBay so instead of having to pack things up and cart them around the countryside, I could just upload to the internet and sell my stuff. And for once in my life I was in the right place at the right time. 2001 and the market for handcrafted glass beads was in its infancy. Every time I sold a set of beads I was encouraged to make more. And I sold a LOT of beads! Funny how that works. I went from this:
And then the bottom fell out of the eBay lampwork market. And worse yet I was caught up in a nasty scene within the lampworking community. Lies were told about a lot of good people, including myself. When a few of us tried to shut it down we were sued. It took two years and about $100,000 (there were about 20 of us and we worked our butts off) but we were vindicated and able to walk away. But it had a lasting impact. A number of us, myself included, found ourselves unable to get back to work. For me, depression set in and it was a long time climbing out of that deep hole.
But that, too, has passed. My workbench is dusted off, my propane tank hooked back up and the oxygen concentrators running again. I have returned to eBay (sort of), my Etsy shop is still open, and I am part of several selling groups on Facebook in addition to having a separate page for my work there. And I am looking forward to a whole new set of glass melting adventures!
Thanks for stopping by!