Monday, August 10, 2009

Marylin Monroe With A Cold Sore

( or the importance of form)

Over the years I have had the pleasure of jurying all three Bead Review Books and I can now tell you that form is the single most important factors in your beads. A lot of us are guilty of thinking of form last. The first thing we think of when we sit down is our new secret technique, or the latest batch of silver color to come into our hands.

None of this matters if the design and shape of the bead is poorly executed. When I open up a slide, the first thing your brain hones in on is the form. If the ends are not straight, or if the curves of the bead are off, then your eye tends to stop at the flaw. The extra cool pattern or shiny new glass becomes secondary to the flaws of the form.

In my beginning classes, most of the first six weeks is taken up by the donut bead shape. Until you can master the heat control required to get a clean even dimpled shape, there is not much point in moving on to bi-cones or more complicated forms. We do dress the beads up with the basic skills like dots and lines, but every bead contains the basic shape.

In my own work I am constanly tweaking the form, and trying to match shape with design. It is a matter of making a lot of beads, and trying a narrower end on this on and a gentle dip in the middle of the next one, and on and on, trying to create pleasing shapes, and then concentrating on the desgin of the pattern.

All of this ghoes back to a critique I had in college. We were all told to bring in our best piece( a glassblowing piece). All of us trotted in with the best designs, dichroic glass, and glass bling that we could muster. My proffesor( Kent Ipsen) then proceeded to paint all of the work flat black. His next words have stayed with me for twenty years.

" Now is it still your favorite piece"

When the work was all painted in a dull flat black, we sat down and got all nitty gritty on the form. That is one day I think we all learned a lot.

I also gleaned this other pearl from the days critique. " A vase with a bad lip, is like Marylin Monroe with a cold sore" . I took away the lesson that no matter how pretty the package, we will always see the flaw first. So get out to your studios and always think of the all important form.


Suzanne said...

I love the concept expressed here - but I think I would have killed your lecturer if he did that to my pride and joy :). Seems the best teachers are often walking a fine line between inspired teaching and getting themselves in trouble, LOL.

Thanks for sharing, Im going to look forward to reading this blog now I've discovered it. said...

hi glass man....

go for it.... great blog....

have a wonderful weekend

mona & the girls

glassbead, isinglass design said...

Oh my, yes, but boy is it hard to restrain those new students! They've often already got some kind of a plan.
Um... that's not to say that I always remember form either.

Illaya said...

I am so glad to see this on your blog. Form has been the biggest issue for me since I started using a torch. I never show a bead to anyone unless the form is perfect. No beads are sold or strung into jewelry unless it's form is perfect. MY philosophy is why should someone pay hard earned dollars for anything less than perfect. What I consider rejects are then used in concrete mosaics where form flaws can be hidden and the glass then becomes the focal point.

Manuela said...

A wonderful post, thanks a lot for your thoughts.

I am always thinking about how to complement design and form to get a unit pleasant to the eyes.

As about teaching ... in my last class I was teaching I felt like running a marathon - my sudents wanted only design, design, design, technique after tehnique. I felt a little bit sad about students telling me "they don´t want to waste time in a class practicing something" and asking only about the newest Glass on the market.

Have a wonderful time