Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Finding my own style...

Many people talk about finding your "own style", but from a newbie's standpoint all you're trying to really do is learn how to melt the glass in a way that doesn't look like someone pooped on your mandrel. Many of us (us not really including me, 'cause I'm not talented this way) have a natural eye for color, shape, and design, and then when we PPP (Practice! Practice!! Practice!!!) we gain technical skill that merges beautifully with our talented eye, and the beads we (again, not me!) make become beautiful works of art.

I could list so many people on Lampwork, Etc. that have both natural skill and technical talent, and that list, very honestly, makes me a little depressed.  I have the technical skill, but since I'm lacking the "talented eye", my beads remain mundane, mediocre, and dull.  Even if I try to "copy" the same bead someone else made, same colors, same shape, same design, you can see there is something missing.  Some... spark.  Like the computer that can replicate the performance of a virtuoso violinist, I can make the bead but I can't make the audience weep for its beauty.

So, I recently came to the conclusion that I have to find my OWN style, one that would communicate who I am, what I am trying to accomplish, and what my heart says, and I need to go a step further with my work than I am now. I need to break out of my comfort zone, because copying the masters to learn the technical skill (as you do in art school when you are first learning any artform), isn't getting me anywhere in this artform in which I've chosen to express myself. Never having studied art, I actually had to force myself to follow this thought process to its logical conclusion:  My beads are round, have good holes, and are annealed, but they really, truly, suck.  I don't want my beads to suck anymore, and I don't want to spend the rest of my life copying other people's work, 'cause someday I'd like my beads to be admired and sought after.  If I want my beads to not suck and I don't want to copy anymore, I have to come up with a style that says, "This is ME!"

How do artists come up with their own styles?  First you have to figure out what you want your art to say.  I want my style to say certain things about myself, so I started writing down ideas about who I am. "I'm wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but I can still go to a gallery opening or a nice restaurant. I'm casual but classic, comfortable but beautiful.  I wear jewel tones and faded denim.  I've even been known to wear a cowboy hat, but that's only 'cause I come from a place where cowboy hats are considered stylish, not because I've ever been on a horse.  I'm not a Ford truck, I'm a Mazda Miata.  I'm a Craftsman style house, and if I weren't made of glass, I'd be made of wood."

Then I asked myself, how do I express emotion and ideas in a tactile art form?  I can write a story that will make you smile and another story that will make you cry, but I don't know how to make you feel anything by showing you a piece of glass on a string.  Can artists learn how to do this or are they just born with the skill?  This has to be something I can learn, or I might as well pack up my glass, tools, torch and kiln and walk away.  How do you learn anything?  You go to school, or, if you've got a day job and an almost-three year old, you surf the internet.  So surf I did, and I actually found a website that might teach me what I need to know, but I haven't read through the whole thing yet.  I'll let you know what I find out.

I wanted to share the gut wrenching process of realizations that it took to get me to the conclusion that I need to do some book-learnin' to teach me how to make nice beads, because I wanted to offer up a mirror to others and maybe help someone who might be going through the same disappointment with their own lampworking that I've been going through with mine.  I hope this view into my brain helps someone, or at least you find it entertaining. :)


  1. Your voice makes me smile! I sure hope you learn how to put it into your beads, because if you do I think they will be truly wonderful. I look forward to hearing more about your journey. <3

    1. Thank you, Katherine! You seem to have hit the nail on the head. Thank you for your support. :)