Tell us a little about your background.
Artistic? Educational? Or both? I don't have much of a background in either one. I was supposed to be a graphic designer, and I took a two year vo-tech course in high school (all of which was the extent of my formal education). I knew pretty early on that college would be a huge waste of time and money for me, what with my aversion to conventional discipline. was never even discussed or considered... I never took art classes in high school, and the ones I had in junior high I practically flunked out of. I think everything worked out just fine - I have good enough understanding about graphic design to present items for sale online and maintain a decent website... but truth be told, I learned most of what I do from day to day from my husband. And my refusal to take classes of any sort beyond high school is what kept me at home and figuring things out on my own, sometimes with the help of an instructional book or two, and other times, just plain old stubbornness.
What first attracted you to lampworking?
Beads (particularly glass) and jewelry were already my thing. I never gave much thought to how beads were made, even my favorite (obviously handmade) ones, like vintage encased foil beads. At some point, I came across a story about Kristina Logan in one of the earliest issues of Bead & Button. She had a scary looking torch and made the most excellent beads I had ever seen... but I couldn't imagine myself doing that. At about the same time, I had already bought just about every bead I wanted from the local bead and craft shops when my mom ran across an ad for Making Glass Beads in a craft book catalogue. She saw it and made a mental note to tell me, then misplaced that mental note somewhere, along with the catalogue. (and believe me, the thought of being able to make glass beads in my own favorite colors was very appealing.) Mom finally found the catalogue, and I bought Cindy Jenkins' Making Glass Beads with my birthday money. That book made me feel like making my own glass beads was a real possibility, and it was my constant companion for the next few years to come.
"Reinventing the Lilac"* - a recent set with two of Sarah's excellent new Bebeadeds
Looking back on you career as a lampworker, is there anything you would have done differently?
Absolutely not. And ssshhh... don't tell me it's my career. I might just freak out at the realization and go hide behind the toilet. If it must be something, it's more like a compulsion.
What do you love most about lampworking today?
THE COLORS! I can't believe how many more colors there are now than there were 10 years ago. I remember in 2000 when they came out with dark teal and evil purple and it was a huge deal. (it was to me, anyway.) Even still, there aren't nearly enough colors to please me, there should be more. I also think brass presses are pretty cool, and those definitely weren't as available when I got started. They create shapes that would be nearly impossible to achieve otherwise.
I never cease to be inspired by the use of color in your beads. The
you create, especially in your work with soda lime glass, are always completely eye-popping. What inspires you in your use of color?All kinds of things. Some of my favorites were inspired by textiles and seasonal fashion lines, and others were colors or themes I stumbled on and happened to be in the mood to be inspired by them. I can't always match them exactly with the glass, and even when I can, I almost always add another color or two that (I think) needs to be there. I love vintage fabrics like barkcloth with tiki and satellite type prints, and wild Hawaiian shirts and muu-muus with loud splashy flowers and colors. Other combinations were just afterthoughts of color combinations that I once used and then decided to try with or without a specific color.
"Persimmon & Blue Spruce"* in borosilicate glass - I particularly love Sarah's Dots-on-Sticks patterned bead which is second from the right
In addition to soda lime, I know that you also work with borosilicate glass. Your work with boro is some of the most unusual that I've ever seen. Tell us a little about what working with boro is like compared to soda lime glass and what has influenced and/or continues to influence the development of your style with boro glass.
Boro is just stiffer and easier (for me) to encase. It's just different - different colors, different shapes and different designs... mostly limited to rounds and tabs for me. It's real hot. And my oxygen delivery lady sees a whole lot more of me when I'm working with it. After about a week or two, I'm bored with it, so it would be safer to say that I haven't really had much time to devote to developing my style with it. What I do with boro is so different from what I do with soda lime, and it's nice to have that change now and again... but soda lime is and always will be my first love glass.
What or who has been the biggest influence on your growth as an artist and why?
I would have to say everyone in my life. With the support and encouragement of my family, clients and bead friends, I have grown artistically as well as become able to support myself by doing what I love - fiddling with beads!
There always seems to be an interesting divide between the work an artist's clients love and the work that the artist herself loves. Among your diverse body of work, what pieces are your favorites and why? Which of your own beads do you tend to wear or do you keep for your own bead box?
My most favorites are the ones that turned out even better than I hoped they would. And as for the beads I wear, I tend to wear more muted colors, like my Tea Stained series. What I like is usually not the best seller at my sales.
What are you looking forward to the most, professionally and/or creatively, in the coming year?
I'm always looking forward to expanding my creative horizons. I recently started coldworking my and have been re-discovering seed beads. Who knows what's next?
Sarah, thank you so much for a wonderful interview (and for agreeing to be my first interview victim). I can't wait to see what you come up with next.
For more information about Sarah and her brilliant beads (and to purchase her beads), please visit her website. (What are you waiting for??? Go! Go now!)
*All photos in this post are ©2006-2008 Sarah Moran. They are used by permission.