Thursday, July 01, 2010

An interesting question

I got this question on one of the message boards I frequent and thought the question and answer would fit in nicely on the blog.

"Would you talk a bit about what you do to work out a design or how you approach laying your design down on a bead? It's clear from your website you are very methodical and thorough. It would be so neat to hear some of your approach and thinking process on work."

It really is kind of hard to explain. Over the years I have developed a "vocabulary" of design elements through trial and error. Through masking I can make certain parts of a design. When I sit down to make a bead now, it is just a matter of recombining the shapes into a well balanced pattern.

When I sit down, I have a rough idea of which series I am going to make, I can kind of doodle with elements I already know how to create and keep building upon these to make a cohesive pattern. The trick is to know when to stop. If you think of every bead as a mini sculpture then the glass has to stand on its own as a finished work. I think of color and form, exactly as if I were making a larger glass vase or paperweight.

That is one reason the bead as a form is so appealing. In a given day, I can run through ten variations on a theme and really flesh out what works and what can be discarded from my "vocabulary".

I am not as methodical as you might think, but other times I know I can get deeper than I need to. My big thing when I teach is to design with intention. Basically, learn to work with your medium so that no matter what kind of design you work with you know what to expect, from your material.

If you take Micheal Barley for example, his beads look very random and organic. But after studying his body of work, you can see logic in the way he makes choices about design. You can find seemingly random dots that perfectly balance a swirl of color on the other side of the bead.

I hope this helps, I think I rambled a little bit. The biggest advice I can make is to make lots of beads. Study each one as you are making it, and remove the things that don't work, and add the things that do to the next bead.

Feel free to ask about any thing that is not clear, it really is a hard thing to put into words. But I think it is important for everyone to ask this very question of their own work.

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