Welcome to the Sunday interview. Today I'm talking with glass bead maker Dawn White of Duda Designs, and later Dawn will present a video showing us how a glass bead is made.
Hello Dawn, tell me a little about your life outside of bead making.
My day job is making beads... Happily enough! Although I do have a couple of wee ones and my DH to look after. I also seem to find time for things like Viva Pinata and this last year I went skydiving! I also keep a blog and I seem a bit obssesed with web design... :)
How long have you been making glass beads, and how did you get started?
I have been making glass beads since, oh 2002 I think... I had VERY small kids when I started so it is a bit fuzzy in my memory.
What attracted you to glass bead making as a form of artistic expression?
Initially I was enchanted with polymer clay. I was inspired by such great artists as Elise Winters or Klew. After making polymer beads for awhile I started to see some of the beautiful glass beads avaialable and I was hooked. Early on I studied with Leah Fairbanks and Deb Crowley. I was simply enchanted with all the different techniques available for making glass beads, there are so many talented artisans these days!
It looks like you need really steady hands, especially when adding the details. What was the hardest skill you had to master?
A steady hand certainly helps, but I think knowing what temperature to have the glass at so that it "cooperates" for whatever you are trying to do it the most important skill. For example when adding stringer you want the bead itself kind of cold so that it doesn't slump while you are adding detail. I also find having asbestos fingers is useful! I get my fingers pretty darn close to the flame!
In the video you show us your stash of jars of coloured glass. I'm guessing that it is powdered glass, but what do you do with it?
Most of that is frit, some of it is powder but most of it is small pieces of glass which is safer to work with than powder. I also work with enamels which is a powder and certainly needs proper respiratory equipment. I have a special mask that I wear when working with enamels, the frit is heavier and so not as dangerous. All of it is used to add color... More color is always better!!
How many beads do you make each year? Where can people buy them?
Oh I make LOTS of beads each year. I get on a roll with a certain style and then just go to town, I really enjoy experimenting with all the possiblities. I work in all types of glass, Satake, Boro, Bullseye, 96COE, and Itallian which is generally 104COE. Keeping it all straight can be a challenge but I love having all the different choices from each type of glass. You can buy my beads at www.dudamart.com
Do you make the same designs time and again, or is each piece unique? Where do you get your inspiration for new designs? Tell me about your creative process.
I only make a set twice if I am asked to remake it and I have enough time. I think that most of my work is unique. If you browse my gallery at gallery.dudaduda.com I think you will find
that my style changes all the time. You never know what I am going to do next! :) Right now I am smitten with button-style flowers. I use frit, I pull latticino (striped cane), or I add other decoration to the flowers and I just get so excited when a set surprises me. I expect it to do one thing and it does something even more interesting! I think that is why I love glass so much, you don't always know what to expect from the kiln when you collect the beads.
Do you also make finished jewelry?
I do make finished jewelry. I think making the jewelry helps with my bead design. I'll make a piece and think, if only the bead were like "this" and off to the torch I go! It is a fun process and I love having the control over my designs, if I want a bracelet to look a certain way I can make the bead myself, very handy!
What motivated you to make this video and do you plan to do any more?
I do plan to make more! It is hard because I need help so I can't just get it done myself. I think making some videos that showed techniques instead of just me at work might be more interesting. :) I made this one just for fun!
Thank you Dawn! You have a video to show us?
I do. Here is a little video showing what I LOVE to do! Of course I show you my shop and, um, my LITTLE stash of glass! Wanna learn more? Watch... I'm working on it!