Monday, September 17, 2012

Profile of an Australian bead-maker: Belinda Clarke

Hello dear friends,

This is the second in my series showing the talents of Aussie  glass bead makers. 

This week I am talking to Belinda Clarke from Bellisimo Jewels.

For those who do not know, glass bead making or 'lamp-working' as it is often called, began many centuries ago. The techniques that are used today are a little different, the torches are more sophisticated but essentially the techniques are not too dissimilar. Hot glass is wrapped around a metal rod. The constant rotation of the rod, shapes and keeps the bead round. Decorations are added with thinner pieces of glass and manipulation of shapes can be achieved with tools and gravity. That is it in a nutshell... though of course, the techniques are many and the combinations of colour and design only limited by the artist himself.

Here are the questions I put to Belinda:

1. How long have you been lampworking and what led you to begin to make glass beads?
I have been lampworking for about 6 years – I started like most by making jewellery and just couldn’t find any beads that were unusual and unique, so I started researching if it was possible to make my own beads. I took a class with Pauline Delaney in Melbourne and met Marianne Bradman (Fields of Clover) I immediately fell in love with the glass and the colours and the possibilities! I took the plunge and set myself up with the basics and it has just evolved from there – there is always something new to buy to add to the collection of glass colours or tools or books etc

2. Please describe your workplace. Do you have a dedicated studio space?
My husband granted me a space in our garage between two pillars as my defined work area (tongue in cheek!) As long as I don’t encroach on his workbench all is good.  Actually he is very supportive and loves that I have explored a new creative area. I think he gets a bit jealous that he doesn’t have the time to do more tinkering at his own workbench. Here is a photo of me at my “designated workspace”

3. Which glass is your current favourite and why?
Hard question to answer Jenni because there are SO many, I love working with the Silver Glasses particularly Elecktra, Gaia & Terranova. I use Elecktra & Gaia a lot when making the tails and wings on my bird beads and I find it easy to get different colours from them in the flame. And Terranova, well it is a muddy brown glass rod that just gives divine colours in the flame

4. What type of torch/es do you use? Can you tell us a little about it?
A good old original Minor Burner – had it since day one, love it and haven’t had the need to change yet.

5. How would you describe your style?
 “Eclectic” – probably organic but then in the past twelve months I have been making little bird beads and “Carmen Miranda Faces”. Since completing Leah Fairbank’s floral class in April this year I have started doing more florals beads which I always thought was beyond my capabilities

Little bird with copper nest.

'Carmen Miranda'

6. When the ‘muse’ has left the studio, what do you draw on to re-inspire you?
When the “muse” has left I like to go back to my books and sit quietly reflecting on all the wonderful skills and designs from all the artists or I like to meet up with my bead buddies and have a beadmeet – I always find it inspiring to talk to other like-minded people and to see what they have been doing.  I am a great procrastinator – it drives me nuts! But when I get down to the workbench I love it and wonder why I took so long to go back to the flame.

7. If you could have a class with any well-known lampwork artist in the world, who would you choose and why?
I would like to do a class with Hayley Tsang as she is renowned for her work with silver glass – I really don’t have any other ONE person in mind, I have enjoyed the 4 classes I have taken so far – Jim Smircich, Andrew Guarino, Corina Tettinger & Leah Fairbanks – all really different glass bead artists and I came away with new skills from each of them. I would love to spend a day at the torch with a friend in our bead group – Carli Hunter Hall – Carli makes such beautiful floral beads and really colourful beads, she is so skilled I think I could learn a lot from her.  I will have to convince her to start teaching!!

8. Do you have any other artistic interests and what are they?
I did dabble in glass slumping at one stage but it didn’t “push my buttons” so to speak! In the past I have done basic patchwork & folk art but nothing has compared to lampworking.

Terranova drops.

Thanks Belinda for sharing your glass passion with us. 

I also must tell you that Belinda also makes wonderful rosary bead necklaces and bracelets combining Swarovski crystals/ pearls and cultured pearls which she sells all over the world.

You can also see more of Belindas  work on her facebook page (business) as well as at her main site

That's it for today folks,

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