Friday, August 7, 2009

Beadmaker Interview - Patty Lakinsmith

1. What is your personal name, business name, website and location?
Patty (Patricia) Lakinsmith, and I do business by my own name and the name, "Plays With Fire". My blog is, and the website where I sell my work is My website ( is sadly outdated and will be redone soon. I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains, in California near the Silicon Valley.

2. What kind of beads do you make? What kinds of processes do you use? What is your favorite beadmaking technique?
I am a lampwork bead maker, and make mostly organic focal beads, but occasionally surprise myself with a set or a clean graphic design. I work with soft glass, and have tried all kinds of techniques, including reduction, electroforming, enamel powders, frit, murrini - you name it and I've probably given it a shot. I've even used baking soda to produce beads that look like rocks.

3. How did you get into beadmaking? What are some of the important things you do for your business?
I feel like I got into beadmaking by accident about 6 years ago. On a whim I took a beginner's lampworking class, and was oddly fascinated by the danger and the difficulty. I had no idea what a good bead looked like, but kept practicing in my garage until I started seeing improvement. I worked on my own for several years before taking another class, practicing every lesson in Corina Tettinger's book, Passing the Flame. In the last few years I've been taking classes from people like Jennifer Geldard, Michael Barley, Tink Martin, Trey Cornette, and Andrea Guarino. I am eager to continue to grow and learn.
I began selling my work at local art and wine shows, then online through Etsy, and most recently at larger shows in and outside of California. Outside of what you would call "bead shows" I think it's important for beadmakers to make jewelry with their beads, so that they can interact with the public who aren't educated in jewelry making. I really enjoy talking to people who come into my booth at art shows, people who just assume that I went to the bead store and bought all of the beads in my jewelry pieces. Once they realize that I made each and every bead by hand, they take more time to really check out my work.
One other important thing I do for my business is to wear my own lampwork jewelry every day. It's a great way to capture people's attention and open a conversation about what I do. I also try to keep new work flowing into my Etsy shop. It's tough when much of your work consists of one of a kind pieces, but people like to feel like you're growing and not becoming stagnant.

4. What is your workspace like and how do you work in your studio? What is a typical day like?
My workspace is spread out through our small home, with an area in the garage for torching and cleaning beads, and an area in another part of the house for jewelry assembly and shipping. I am dreaming of getting a separate studio, perhaps a yurt or a pacific dome, where everything can be in one spot that I can call my own, and not share with bicycles, guest beds, exercise equipment, etc. It's usually pretty messy, especially in the days leading up to a show when I'm producing pieces like made, but occasionally I get it cleaned up.
I usually sit down at the torch with few preconceived notions about what I'm going to make, and let the glass inspire me. Sometimes I have something specific in mind to make, but mostly I choose colors that speak to me and let the glass tell me what it wants to do that day.
There are no typical days at my house. Sometimes I work early in the morning, sometimes late at night. I usually get up early and answer emails and Etsy convos over coffee, and then from there it's extremely variable. Some days I'll spend some time in the garden, some days it's errands or lunch with friends. I find myself going to the post office about twice a week, maybe more, just to drop packages off that I've weighed and stamped at home. One thing is consistent, however, and that's the fact that my best ideas usually come to me early in the morning or late at night while I'm lying in bed. Sometimes they are so persistent that they get me out of bed.

5. How do you stay inspired and motivated?
I have no problem with inspiration. I see it everywhere - the garden, the sky, animals, magazines, fabric. I usually have at least 4 or 5 different ideas brewing in my head at once. Motivation is pretty easy too, but the hardest time for me to get motivated is when I get an order to recreate something I've done in the past. It seems that I am most motivated when I have an idea of my own to explore, not someone else's vision of what I should make.

6. What type of beads and jewelry designs do you feel best compliment your art beads? Do you design your own jewelry too?
Organic jewelry designs seem best suited for my beads. I've been working with metalsmith Cyndie Smith ( for about a year now, and I find that her fluid designs in silver, brass, and copper really compliment my bead style. We entered the ISGB and Bead & Button's Convergence exhibit with a pretty radical piece called Mean Green Mother Earth, which included copper flowers, leaves, and tendrils, and little one-holed "Meanie" flower head beads that had big lips, teeth, and tongues. We've had tons of fun with this theme, and have designed complimentary brooches and rings from this idea. Glass and metal are a natural combination, and Cyndie is a lot of fun to work with.
I design my own jewelry as well using my own PMC clasps and other findings, freshwater pearls, crystals, and silver wire. Most of it is pretty simple, but I've been attracted to charm or cha cha bracelet styles recently, and have designed some earrings that go along the same theme. It's fun to put a collection of related items together in that way.

7. What beady plans do you have for the future? Do you have new designs or ideas you will be exploring soon?
My to do list includes some electroforming (it's been a while since I've done that), and further exploration of the one holed bead theme. I've also been working a lot with the concept of gravity, and some surprisingly simple bead styles (for me, anyway).
I've been hoping for some time to collaborate with a bead weaver, and was thrilled to recently met Rachel Nelson-Smith at a local show. We're working together on a design for a magazine challenge, and I'm very excited about it. Her detailed work with seed beads just blows my mind, and the work she does really honors lampwork.

8. If you have a discount code you would like to give our readers, please list it here, including the expiration date:
Sure - just use the code "ABSAUG" for a 20% discount on any order from my Etsy shop, except items already in the "SALE" category.


Eileen said...

patty's work is awesome...she's definitely a fav of mine and such a support and inspiration...i love her meanies, their so MEAN...

Marsha Neal Studio said...

Wonderful Interview - I love the textures and shapes of Patty's work. The "meanie" flower bead head pieces are really great. Looking at them makes me smile!

Thanks for sharing!

Cyndi L said...

Oh what gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous things!

jesus said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Jeannie said...

What a great! interview. I really enjoyed reading about Patty and her work. Her beads are amazing. Love the meanie beads.

pompo said...

very good work from Spain...