Monday, October 22, 2007

Beadmaker Interview with Joan Miller

Enjoy our interview today with porcelain bead artist Joan Miller, where you will get a little peek into her creative life and process. Just this year Joan took home first place in handmade beads and buttons in Bead Dreams 2007 with her exquisite "Mermaid and Sea Creatures" beads. We are pleased to share this interview with her.

What is your personal name, business name, website and location?

Joan MillerJoan Miller Porcelain,, Fleetwood, PA

2. What kind of beads do you make? What kinds of processes do you use? What is your favorite beadmaking technique?

Most of my beads are colored porcelain with a high gloss glaze. I use a combination of techniques with colored porcelain slip. I use the same porcelain stained different colors to both form my beads and decorate on them. Bead bases may be hand formed or cast or combination. Decoration is applied with small detail brushes and needle tools.

3. How did you get into beadmaking?

Before concentrating on beads, I had a line of porcelain jewelry (also done in my colored slips) that were primarily flat pieces made into pins and earrings. I always did a few beads but never thought of concentrating on them until lampwork glass gained popularity. At that time I was getting tired of my flat work and the working in the round on a small scale opened up a lot of design ideas and possibilities for me.

4. What are some of the important things you do for your business?

Most importantly I keep working and trying new things, whether it is designs or different ways of marketing. I have learned to cherish the slow times because that is when I get to spread my wings creatively. As a result I find I don't have too many of those slow times to cherish.

5. What is your workspace like and how do you work in your studio? What is a typical day like?

I work at home in a small spare bedroom and have my kilns in the basement. Typically I try and work in 2 to 3 hour sessions. I take breaks and try and get outside. Having three dogs helps; I am not allowed to skip walks! Drying time is crucial in my process, so I will often have several piecesgoing at once. Usually if I am working on a complicated focal, I will work at several smaller beads at the same time so that each stage is applied at the optimum time. Often I do a morning, afternoon and evening session.

5. How do you stay inspired and motivated?

My bills and my stomach keep me motivated. If I don't work, I don't eat! And I like to eat. Staying inspired is never a problem. I always have more ideas than I can get to (going back to that cherish the slow times thing.) A favorite saying of one of my most important teachers was "Life is short and Art is long."

6. What type of beads and jewelry designs do you feel best compliment your art beads? Do you design your own jewelry too?

My first year in Tucson I met Penny Michelle known for her fun and fabulous silver components. I do a lot of work designing beads specifically forPenny's components. I am much more into making the beads than making jewelry so this is just perfect for me. I can have some finished pieces that are truly unique by just doing a few wire wraps. We also join forces in our marketing efforts and that has worked out really well for both of us. For example check out our Halloween pages on and . Other than that my customers do a much better job ofcreating jewelry with my beads than I do. I just don't have the time to focus on both the bead making and jewelry design.

7. What beady plans do you have for the future? Do you have new designs or ideas you will be exploring soon?

I am planning on concentrating a little more on web business in the upcoming months and next year. I actually am staying home from shows for 4 whole months starting Nov. 1. I also have some plans for some finished bracelets using my patterned disc spacer beads. Skulls were the new addition to my Halloween line and I am also working on new bird pendants (It's good to be me...........I say I want silver bird feet and I get silver bird feet) . The ravens were my first bird design but I have been working on some more fanciful birds. My favorite so far is my checker-bird which should be appearing on my website sometime soon.

8. If you have a discount code you would like to give our readers, please list it here, including the expiration date:

Email me by Oct. 31 that you read my interview on Art Bead Scene and be entered in a drawing for one of my flower skulls . Drawing on Nov. 1.

Thanks Joan! And thanks also for donating a great stash of exquisite beads for last month's Art Bead Scene Challenge.


Jean said...

awesome--I want to be in her drawing! which email should we use?

Jean said...

ah, I found it on her site!

Joan said...

Just go to and click on "contact" or "email."

Joan :)

Joan said...

Shawnty is the raffle winner. Please check your email and congrats!