I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Heidi of Jamnglass on Etsy. In case you haven't visited her shop, she sews and dyes the most incredible silk ribbons and cords, and makes lampwork beads and jewelry as well. Heidi is a member of the Lampwork Etc Street Team (LEST), and will celebrate her 1 year anniversary on Etsy later this month.
What I like about Heidi's work is its free spiritedness, the way it embraces color and designs that are easy to wear. I adore her bangle bracelets with curvy silver work, which she hammers herself, and adorns with her incredible borosilicate beads.
What parts of your childhood influenced your art?
I loved to play with finger paints. I loved to get my fingers in the paint and squish the colors together. I got a special thrill with a new box of crayons.
How long have you been dying cords, making glass beads, and making jewelry?
I started making glass beads about 8 years ago by chance. I went in to a stained glass shop looking to take a class to make a lamp and left with a Hot Head torch and a few glass rods. Jewelry making and then silk dyeing followed behind. Its funny how one craft leads us l to another one and they all seem to compliment each other.
When you make beads are you thinking about your cords? Do you think you make beads differently because of the fact that you also dye cords?
I don't think about anything when I am making beads. Working with the glass clears my head. I guess I feel I am in the moment and mesmerized by the glass. The glass tells me what it wants. I make a pendant that is reversible and the shape always comes out a bit different every time. I make ribbons to match the beads, so its the beads that inspire the ribbon colors. :)
From what do you draw the bulk of your inspiration?
I love to look at art magazines and glamour magazines. I keep a journal (off and on) where I will jot down bead sketches and color combinations. I cut clippings out of magazine for something that has caught my eye. If I am stuck sometimes just looking through these old journals will help spark a new direction.
Are there other artists that you consider to be your mentors?
I was a self taught artist for several years before I took my first class. I have a brother who died too young who has inspired me to follow my creative side. I feel from his death I learned that we need to live the life we dreamed about. I feel sometimes that he has encouraged me to try new things.
What artists do you admire?
So many wonderful bead artists inspire me: Kimberly Affleck, Smircich, Corina, and Doug Remschneider were the ones I admired when I was starting out.
What kind of satisfaction do you get from making dyed fiber that you just don’t get when making glass beads?
I can touch the fabric with my hands while dyeing. I pretty much had better never touch the glass while I am working with the colors. :)
Pastel Circus Hand Dyed Silk Cords in Jamnglass's Etsy shop
Which is your favorite style of dyed fiber to make, and why?
The watercolors are the most fun to make. I love to make the colors blend together.
What is your favorite style of bead to make?
My favorite style of bead to make is a lentil. I love to squash the glass. Currently my favorite thing to make is a round free form "flower" pendant. I love to be able to have the freedom to let the glass flow where it wants.
What is it that attracts you to borosilicate versus soft glass?
I love the surprise of borosilicate glass. I play a lot with silver colors and love how every time I open that kiln I never know what I will find. If the surprise is not a happy one boro glass can also be reworked as a base into something else. In soft glass you would have glass popping and exploding but with boro you can re-melt and start over!
What do you think are the top 3 contributors to your success on Etsy?
On Etsy you need good pictures: really good pictures. Its even more important to have good pictures of beads since there are so many glass artists on Etsy.
At first I spent a lot of time in the chat room talking to others and looking at their stores. Networking with a Etsy team group also helps sell items on Etsy.
If you could change one thing about Etsy, what would it be?
I would like to see all mass produced items totally separate on Etsy. Currently it seems a search will still pull up items that are not artisan one of a kind handmade items. This hurts the lampworker since some buyers think one of a kind artisan beads should be priced lower.
For other artists hoping to become successful in selling their work, what self-promotion activities do you most recommend?
Join a couple of online web sites with other bead makers. Do what you love and let it lead you in the direction you want to go.
If you had a whole free day ahead of you, and no orders to fill, what would you do?
I have been wanting to make a trip to Big Bear. Its so refreshing to be in the mountains. The pine trees are gorgeous and smell so pretty! Of course I can wait for snow! :)
Well Heidi, the Big Bear forecast looks like sunny, mild days for the near future, but I'm sure the snow will be arriving soon.
For my readers, do visit Jamnglass on Etsy, and check out her work. She's clearly doing what she loves, and it shows. I'm headed to her shop soon - I have a heart shaped focal bead that's just begging for some silk cording!