The Many Faces of Glass Beads

glass beads 4 430x443 - The Many Faces of Glass BeadsTo round out this week’s quick focus on beads, I thought I’d share focal beads in another medium that is very well-known for them–glass.

Glass artists have some very particular and, literally, inflexible limitations and yet they create these extremely intricate and amazing beads. They do get to work with super clear transparency–a characteristic of their medium that they use to great advantage–which is something that is difficult to achieve in polymer, but their forms and patterns are something that, I think, could be a gold mine of inspiration and a jumping off point for ideas in polymer that go beyond the basic and common beads seen in polymer.

Here are just four examples of the intricacy and beauty in glass bead making today. Starting from top left is a bead created by Leah Nietz, top right is Lisa Fletcher, bottom left is Andrea Guarino, and bottom right is Ikuyo Yamanaka. You can click on each artist’s name to reach their shop or website to look further into what they create. You can also immerse yourself in glass focal beads by putting that very phrase into a Pinterest, Google Images, Etsy, Flickr, or even Instagram.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Choose your favorite image posting service, such as those just listed above, and enjoy the art and inspiration that comes up when you search for “focal beads”. Choose a couple of images and try to determine what you like best about the bead or beads and then figure out how to recreate those characteristics in polymer. Hopefully that leads you to some original and very fulfilling polymer bead explorations.



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Popping Focals

rainbow winged rommelWho doesn’t like a little drama? Well, with half the world just in love with over-the-top reality TV and crazy viral videos, maybe a good deal of people actually prefer a lot of drama. But, rather than going over the top or trying to shock, let’s look at ways to get a big punch out of something singularly simple–focal points. It’s rare to have a piece of art that doesn’t have a focal point, but while some are quite subtle, others are undeniable and sometimes, even hard to look away from. Ideally, subtle or not, you want the focal point to pull a viewer in but have their eye stay to investigate the rest.

So, if you make that focal point pop, you also want to create it in such a way that what you have is a nice place to stop, but nothing so overwhelming as to keep the viewer from exploring the details that surround it. Encouraging the viewer to spend time looking at the work allows them to develop a more particular knowledge of, and maybe a personal connection to, the piece, which makes the viewing more of an experience than just a pleasant glance.

This piece here is a pretty dramatic example. The colors are what snap you to attention, but when you focus, it is on the large rivoli crystal. We do love our shiny stuff, and this one is too huge to miss. However, the rich rainbow colors that are gently wrapped around it begs to be explored as well. Once you’ve taken in the sweeping lines of graduated color, you still want to step back and take it all in. It’s dramatic, but relatively simple, and the combination will hold the viewer for a long, pleasant moment.

This kind of drama can be found throughout the collections by Arbel Shemesh that you can see on Etsy here.


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