I’m not a well known lampwork artist, I haven’t made a name for myself selling an amazing tutorial or inventing a wonderful design. I’m a plodder and for a very long time I didn’t consider myself a lampwork artist. I considered myself a jewellery designer and making beads for my jewellery designs was not as important as making and selling the finished piece of jewellery. However, somewhere in the last 12 years I changed my perception of what I loved about jewellery making. I love beads. I love glass. I love creating and trying to discover hidden properties in ordinary substances. I love to create chemical reactions and patterns in glass that will only occur when there is just the right amount of heating and cooling in place. I both love and hate the “this is not meant to happen” moments when you work with glass and fire. Sometimes those unplanned moments can be magic and sometimes they can be a blob of burned glass. Over the years a lot of my glass beads have gone to waste because I tried to push a reaction into glass for a little too long. Artists should push the envelope every now and again to see what glass can do. I push it too far, too often and then I think oops, too far. Next time I’ll get it right. I’m that kind of person. I have a lot of bead accidents sitting in a jar looking horrible and I wasn’t a big fan of selling my beads. They were my beads, waiting to be turned into jewellery. A lot has changed in twelve years, now, I sell my beads and I rarely make jewellery.
I love opaque glass and I love to work with earthy muted tones, soft pastels and rich purples and teals. I don’t have a definitive style, there isn’t a bead I make that could be defined as something I made. I’ve been lampworking for twelve years and I’m still searching for what defines my style. If I was pressured to define it, I make beads with intricate layers of colour and spiralling stringer work. They are almost always large tapered focals focals or small sets of assymetric beads.
I prefer to hand shape beads but I do like using presses for consistent sets. I love all brands of glass that I have tried. Glass has it’s quirks and I love that. A few shattered beads are not going to stop me using a brand or experimenting with putting that brand with another brand, which is why I usually end up with some crazy combination that I can’t ever replicate. My mind is very disorganised but the space around me is neat and orderly. I can’t work in chaos because my imagination is chaos. I sit down to do one thing and end up with something else.
My philosophy is to go where the glass takes me, sometimes I might not like those outcomes but they’re important discoveries. I believe I’ve learned a lot from pushing the envelope.
Before I made glass beads I created beaded jewellery out of seed beads and mixed media. I’ve won a few Australian awards for my seed bead work a long time ago. My work has been part of Australia wide exhibitions and I’ve had my jewellery, glass beads and tutorials published in Australian magazines. My jewellery appears every now and again in galleries around Melbourne and I’ve had the opportunity to teach bead embroidery and bead weaving around Australia.
I do not create seed bead work anymore and whilst I still enjoy making this style of jewellery, melting glass is my all encompassing love. I never was motivated to contribute to international competitions and I am still that way. I enjoy making art and sharing knowledge, but I’ve never been much for chasing the recognition of that. I prefer to do my own thing and not worry about making something that would win competitions.
In 2006 I took a bead making class known as lampworking with glass artist Pauline Delaney. Over two days I learned how to make glass beads. I was mesmerised by what happens to glass when heat is introduced. By the end of that year I had a complete set up in the corner of a spare room and was making beads. Working with glass made me want to learn more, but sadly because I didn’t have a safe place to work for a long time, I couldn’t lampwork enough for a few years and I went back to university to change my career, which meant I had even less time. I talk about this in my blog, because I felt that having my own space was an important part of becoming an artist.
In 2017 I fell pregnant with my first child and my all encompassing career as a full time high school teacher was pushed to the wall. I thought I didn’t have a lot of time to make beads when I was a teacher. I took a forced break from lampworking for two and a half years after becoming pregnant. I was unlucky to have Hyperemesis Gravidarum (extreme morning sickness) from the fourth week of my pregnancy until I gave birth. Even if I wanted to lampwork the smell of the factory my studio was in made me so nauseous I couldn’t get near it. Becoming a mother has changed me. I don’t feel it is important to go back to teaching full time, not being able to lampwork for so long gave me a new sense of respect for doing the things I love in the limited time I have on this planet.
I have had a few lessons with exceptional teachers over the years. In 2015 I finally got my first lesson with an international teacher and I was extraordinarily lucky to score a place in a 2 day class with Kim Fields. I followed that up in 2016 with two three day classess with Corina Tettinger. In 2017, extremely sick (and not knowing I was four weeks pregnant) I attended the three day (I managed 2 days) Powder Play class held by Holly Cooper. I feel extremely fortunate to have had lessons with artists who have been my inspiration since before starting lampworking.
Thanks for reading about me and looking through the blog. I started this a few years ago now and life got in the way of doing what I set out to do. It’s only beginning to be filled with all the information I’ve accumulated over the years. I hope it’s useful and I also hope that you feel welcome to contribute if there is a factual error or something that I’ve missed. My blog is really about the things that I’ve done as an artist and I’ve done a bit, but not everything. I sincerely hope that you discover inspiration or information that will help you on your creative journey.
– Desi, 2015
Updated September 2019