Monday, August 11, 2008

A First-Timer's Visit to the Gathering

I am fortunate to live near Oakland, CA, the site of this year's Gathering, the annual meeting of the Interational Society of Glass Beadmakers, and attended the Bead Bazaar Saturday and presentations on Sunday. Since this was my first time, I thought I'd share my experience with others who may not have been to this incredible glass mecca before.

I found some familar faces (nametags, actually, since I've never met these LEST members before!) at their bazaar tables Saturday showing their beads. But first I ran into Michael Barley, my favorite teacher of all, and had to show him what I've done with (to?) his baleen technique (think baleen on crack), and drool over his amazing collection of work. He's such a warm person, and took time to interact with each and every person who visited his table.

Then I met Jo (aka DogmawGlass), who had some really great organic shaped beads. Turns out she's the one I sent one of my PMC clasps to for an Art Bead Scene monthly challenge that we were going to do... life got in the way but we're aiming our sights on the next one.


Next I had no trouble recognizing Marcy Lamberson of StudioMarcy, whose amazing bobble head beads were out in force: Elvis, the American Gothic duo, Thug Pigs, and a whole cast of entertaining characters that made everyone smile. She said she'd be smiling, and boy does her smile light up the room!


I was really inspired by seeing Sara Sally LaGrand's wearable work at the show - it really stood out from the rest. Her pieces were definitely not for the shy, but exhibited a masterful level of artistry in their conception and execution.

Hayley and Helen from enVision were there, and their booth was mobbed with customers. If you work with the new silver glass, you should check out their How To Guide on the silver colors. Here's a sample of their wares:


Last, but definitely not least, I was thrilled to finally meet Lara Lutrick (yes, THE RECENTLY PUBLISHED Lara Lutrick). I own one of her great beads (and am lusting after about 10 more), and was happy to get to see some of her collaborative work with her woodworking dad. Artistry definitely runs in the family at the Lutrick household.

Lara with her collaborative piece.

The technical vendor area was smaller than I thought, but my credit card bill will not verify that. My favorite press maker Amy of Zooziis was there, as was Frantz, Arrow Springs, Soft Flex, and many others. They appeared to be working very hard to handle the constant crowds on Saturday, and those that would surge in on Sunday after each speaker revealed which tools were the secrets to their success with a particular bead style.

Sunday was amazing. Speakers were supported by pre-recorded videos of their demonstrations, and two screens made it easy to see what was going on during the 1-hour long presentations. At 8:15am Trey Cornette humbly presented his incredible Sun Garden style beads, and gave lots of really useful tips on twisting, heat control, and murrini application. Marcy followed with a tip-filled and loudly aplauded demonstration on her sculptural Elvis bobble-head beads, right down to the chest hair and belt buckle embellishments. She's such a sweet person she even excused herself for referring to his rear quarters as "buns".

Due to some feverish shopping I missed the first part of Sabina Boehm's boro implosion marble demonstration, but what I saw was fabulous. I had to laugh at the end when her slide show was still running and she asked whether it was OK if she could leave anyway.

We received even more densely packed information during Kristen Frantzen Orr's talk on "Bead to Finished Piece", a really thoughtful presentation showing an entire creative sequence from bead creation through jewelry design. I sat in a darker area of the ballroom and hope that the notes I took are readable! She showed how she makes her signature striped canes and applies them on her floral beads, and Maggie Roschyk (her jewelry designer collaborateur) explained how they had met and had come together to create incredible pieces of wearable art.

Harold Cooney stole the show during his borosilicate candy dish demonstration. After arriving 2 1/2 days late for his filming, which subsequently led to a serious (but recoverable) flaw in his demonstration (Marcy told me that they get one shot at the filming, with no "do-overs"), he told us how the ISGB had helped him along the path of self discovery and fulfillment by allowing a lowly glass pipe maker into their folds. Intermingled with technical points about working a large set of boro latticino into a vessel form were reflections on his quest for money and self-fulfillment in his art. I noted several great quotes during his talk, such as, "Like, borosilicate was invented in the 1960s to kill communists", and "boro is about getting the job done", and "all you have to do to work boro is not have a job".

The last talk that I attended on Sunday was Stephanie Sersich and Dustin Tabor seaking on "Beyond Beads: Non-weables from Lampwork beads and parts". I have a personal interest in anything related to collaboration, and this young and energetic duo are breaking all of the molds. They spoke of their participation in a Bullseye-sponsored factory event to push the boundaries of lampworking and fusing, and they really did. It was really great.

I know I only experienced a fraction of what the annual Gathering has to offer, but had enough of a taste to whet my appetite for future years when I hope to be able to attend the entire event. Look out Miami, here I come!


Deb said...

WOW Patty - it sounds like you had an absolute ball! It's great to put some faces to names & hear about it all through anothers experience.
I just got to live vicariously through you :o)
Down here in New Zealand we are somewhat starved of any glass related events - so this has been just what I needed :o)
Thank you so much!

Patty said...

You're welcome, Deb! I can't imagine what it must have been like to experience the WHOLE thing - the small dose I got was certainly total elixir.

I visited New Zealand quite a few years ago and loved it! Gotta get back one of these days...


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