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, flamingheartstudio.com. 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?
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.