Category Archives: Jennifer

Featured Artist–Jennifer Ross

Jennifer is one of our own!  She makes bright, beautiful beads and then makes them into bright, beautiful pieces of jewelry.  Unfortunately, she didn’t send me any pictures yet but when she does, I’ll be very happy to show them to you!



Featured Artist–Jennifer Ross

1. How did you get started in lampworking? What was the thing that made you interested?

My mom and I love to go to fine art shows/fairs and several years running my purchases at those shows were all lampwork bead jewelry. My birthday was approaching in 2005 and my husband asked me what I wanted as a gift so I decided to take a beginning lampworking class to see if I liked it.

‘Like’ was an understatement. One four hour class with Julie Rose and I fell madly in love.

2. How long have you been lampworking? Is it a business for you or a hobby?

I’ve been at it for almost three years. It is a business for me, slowly but surely.

3. What inspires you? How do you get the inspiration/motivation back when you are in a slump?

I’m inspired by color and pattern in artwork, fabric, dishes, architecture, just about anything. I’m at the torch about 35 hours a week on average so if I find myself in a slump the best thing I can do is get away from the torch. Go out into the world and shake up my surroundings.

Then I can come back to the torch with fresh ideas.

4. Who are your 3 favorite lampworkers? Why?

It’s tough to choose just three, but in no particular order… Heather Trimlett’s work always brings a smile to my face. I love her use of color and although some of the dots and other patterns she uses my look simple, hers are perfectly executed. I was lucky enough to take a class with her last year. I learned so much about her techniques and about the importance of patience. I’m blown away by Sarah Hornik’s beads. I love the flow to her beads and she has a great eye for color too. I’m beyond amazed that she works on a hot head. Andrea Guarino’s beads have a phenomenally unique look. I admire any bead maker who gets to that point in the journey. Her beads are wonderfully organic, colorful and whimsical. Her use of enamels and textures blows me away.

5. What is the best thing about lampworking? The worst?

For me there are lots of ‘best things’ like working with a silver glass and seeing the colors develop, pulling the prior day’s batch of beads from the kiln and loving them all, discovering a new (to me) color reaction or combination… I could go on and on. The worst for me is probably when I think I really rocked a bead and when it comes out of the kiln the colors didn’t do what I wanted them to do or the bead cracked.

6. What is the funniest or scariest thing that ever happened to you when you were torching?

I’ve picked up the wrong end of a rod or two and I’ve been hit by hot flying glass more times than I can remember but nothing too serious.

7. What kind of set up do you use? Torch?

I use a MiniCC with a 5 lpm concentrator and I also use tanked oxy for boro or silver colors.

8. What is your favorite glass?

I have too many to list. I love working with the silver striking and reducing glasses, so many of those are favorites.

9. Do you have a favorite technique?

All that I’ve learned and some I don’t even know yet!

10. What are your favorite color combinations?

I love high contrast in color and pattern so black and white is a favorite. I also love purple red and carrot red together, pea green and dark periwinkle, just about any bright combination. I also love raku and black, terra and chocolate brown, khaos and … somebody stop me!

11. What’s your favorite technique? What technique makes you want to bang your (or someone else’s) head against the wall?

I love making focals with lots of colors raked, swirled and twisted. I also absolutely love twisties, black and white especially. Basic, I know, but beads with twisties make me smile! Regarding banging my head against a wall… see my answer to number 12.

12. Is there a shape that you really HATE to make?

I really don’t enjoy hollows. I even took a two day class to learn the technique but I’ve never really practiced it enough to turn them out consistently. I’ll keep trying but I’m perfectly happy admiring other bead maker’s hollow beads.

13. Do you have a ‘comfort’ bead?

Not really a comfort bead. I usually do some ‘warm up’ beads with my marble mold. When I’m not sure which direction I’m going I tend to make rounds with dots and swirls… a few of those and I’m off and running.

14. How do you see yourself developing as a lampworker in the future? What are your goals?

I’ll continue to take classes and practice to improve my skills. My main artistic goal is to develop my own look or niche in the lampworking world. I’m still searching for that signature bead/design/look that is uniquely mine.

15. What do you consider as successful? What is the key to getting there?

I suppose one measure of success is sales. I would be thrilled to make a little living making glass beads and jewelry, nothing too extravagant, just a modest and somewhat regular income. I’m working toward that by consistently applying for juried shows, and developing my sales on Etsy, eBay and my own web site, On a personal level I consider myself successful in that those who know me well know that I am true to my word, I do what I say I’m going to do and I say what I mean.

16. What would be your 3 best tips for new artists?

Be Patient

Practice, practice, practice

Keep burn salve very close by

17. Do you like to take classes from other lampworkers?

I love taking classes. I have a list of bead makers I want to learn from. The list keeps growing so I know as long as I’m lampworking, I’ll be taking classes.

18. Do you teach? Will you travel to teach?

I don’t teach. I was recently asked to teach beginners classes for a local studio. I’m flattered but I don’t think I’m ready yet. I’m still trying to find my own way.




Hurry Up and Create, Dammit!

Have you ever felt that way? Last week I was faced with forcing myself to be creative and it was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do.

There is an art show I have attended with my mother every year for the past 17 years. It’s always been a dream of mine to be in the show but I never really felt my work was up to the task.

This year I decided I wanted to apply. I kept rolling the ideas around in my head. The show has many jewelry artists exhibiting and a few lampworkers so competition is tough. I knew I had to really come up with some “WOW” stuff to even be considered. My slides that have gotten me into shows in the past just didn’t seem good enough.

The closer the deadline came, the less creative I felt. It was so much pressure. Like a gun to my head with myself saying “Create Dammit!”. I kept procrastinating, allowing myself to be distracted by any little thing. It was not going well.

As the midnight deadline approached (last Friday) I was sitting at my kitchen table with a huge mess of beads, fibers, cords, wire, you name it, it was in the pile. I had made and taken apart countless ideas that just didn’t work out. I was mad, in tears, frustrated. I knew whatever it was I had to finish it, then take it downstairs and photograph it, then come back to the computer to resize it, then upload it to their site and submit my application.

Finally I got an idea with potential! I’ll bet a light bulb really appeared above my head. I started furiously braiding my cord, bending wire, stringing beads… then I got an idea for a matching bracelet. I was pushing it time wise (it was 10PM) but I could do it!

At 10:30 I raced downstairs and my husband was all set with the lights on and the camera ready to go. With a few quick clicks I was back at my computer resizing… wait a minute! There’s a hair right in the middle of it. Dog hair, cat hair, someone’s hair! Down the stairs again… re shoot the pictures. I can feel I’m running out of time. I’m panicking.

I made it back to the computer to resize again and click on the ‘submit’ button and the page just sits there… loading… forever it seemed. Suddenly I was kicked back to the main page and when I tried to resubmit my application I received the error message that the show was closed for entries.

I cried… and cried… and cried. I felt like I had run a marathon all day long and tripped 5 feet from the finish line. I was so frustrated, mad at myself for procrastinating, for not being more creative.

Before going to bed I decided to e-mail the show and just see if they might possibly accept any late entries. I know some will and you have to pay a higher application fee but at this point the site wasn’t even allowing any applications. So I put my whole story out there to this generic e-mail address and went to bed feeling defeated. I was hoping for the best but not expecting it.

I received an e-mail back two days later. She told me she would ‘try’ to reopen the application process later in the week, but no promises.

It’s too late to make this long story short but I’ll wrap it up… she DID reopen that section of the site and I was able to submit my application. Whether or not I’m chosen to be in the show, I’ll always remember how this set came to life and use it as a reminder. A reminder that procrastination is bad… a reminder that creativity isn’t forced, it flows… a reminder to never give up… and a reminder that if a door closes, find another one to open.

I hope reading this helps you all to remember those things too.

I named this ‘On My Horizon’…

On My Horizon

Passing on Inspiration

I thought it would be cool to do a photo essay of things around my house that inspire me. That way I can share them with everyone… until I can invite you all here to see it for yourself! My house is full of “stuff”. My husband likes to say of my design style that I can “never leave a flat surface alone”. It’s true in almost all things in my life. I’m definitely a maximalist, not a minimalist.

Bing Dual Face Urn

Bing Ceramic Urn. I love the haunting look on the faces. Faces are a common motif in the art I choose.

Ceramic Urn

I don’t remember the name of this artist and I can’t make out the signature. I’ve taken this to my studio many time to try to make a bead with the same design and color, not much success yet but it always takes me in an interesting direction.

My Kingdom for Some Chocolate

This is a painting by L. Martinique called “My Kingdom for Some Chocolate”. It hangs in my office.

Donna Burstein

This one is by Donna Burstein, it’s Untitled. I love the movement in it and her use of color. It hangs over our bed.

Sid Dickens

This is part of my Sid Dickens collection. I don’t buy them anymore but I still love the textures and messages.

Bing Again

This is another Bing, it hangs in our bedroom.

E.G. LaChance

This is one of two paintings I have by St. Louis painter, E.G. LaChance. It’s about 30″ x 30″.

E.G. LaChance Again

This is the other LaChance. I’m working on a set of beads inspired by this painting. I’m doing a bead like each square in the painting using soft glass and enamels. I still have quite a ways to go but when I’m stuck at the torch I do a couple of those and then I’m on track again.

Over the Cabinets

This is what’s on top of my kitchen cabinets. This sort of illustrates the “can’t leave a flat surface alone” comment. Some of it is kitschy, some of it is not but I love it all. I remember each thing, where it came from and what life was like at the time. That’s famed architect I.M. Pei on the urn. The harlequin plate on the left is part of a set of sushi plates made to match my wedding cake by a friend who is a potter.

The View 1

This is the current view from our bedroom deck. That’s Waubonsie Creek. Lots of nature out there for inspiration.

the other view

The view in the other direction. I saw a fox out there on that little “island” this morning but I was too slow with the camera.Moon Man

This guy is rather large, I think he’s 42″ in diameter. He hangs over my kitchen sink and he makes me smile.

I have a lot more but I’ll do the rest later.  Please excuse the poor photo quality, dust, cobwebs or anything else unsightly.  I hope you get some inspired ideas looking at these and I’d love to see someone else do this.  It was fun!

Jennifer goes to the dark side (boro)!

Brent Graber Heart

I took a class last week that just blew my mind. The class was two days with Brent Graber at Mari’s studio. It was my very first time melting borosilicate glass (Deb calls it “the dark side”) and while I’m still excited and intrigued by glass every day this was a whole new level of WOW!

As far as sculpting and shaping goes, it seems easier. It’s far more stiff than soft glass and easier to freeze that exact moment in time. It’s less shocky and more forgiving. The hard part comes in getting the good color, as far as I can tell.

So one week after the class and boro is all I can think about. I’m getting tanked oxygen in my studio today (my oxycon isn’t strong enough) and I can’t wait to go play. I’m taking all boro to open torch tomorrow and perhaps I’ll even work on my implosions, which were dreadful in class. I hope to try some mandrels too since all I did was off mandrel in the class.

The picture is a heart Brent made for me. I tried to buy one from him in Tucson last year. I wasn’t crazy about the colors he had left and I wanted horns on mine so he said he would make one. I waited and waited, reminded and cajoled… but in typical artist fashion, he just never got it to me. I mentioned this in class, of course, and he said he would make me one before class was over. True to his word I sat right behind him while he created this. I told him I wanted the horns, the wings AND the tail. You can never have enough cow bell, right? After he finished I took a look and it’s the most gorgeous heart I’d ever seen. He wouldn’t even let me pay him for it. He also gave away everything he made in the class.

Thanks to Brent for the heart and for turning me onto boro and very special thanks to Mari, who insists I’m a boro savant even though I don’t feel like one. I’ll post pics of what I create at open torch. Perhaps not only can you watch me create, you can watch my work evolve!