Julie was gracious enough to grant me an interview even though I happened to pick the exact week that she was busy re-launching her Etsy site. And since Julie is a woman of many words (not unlike me!), I will let her tell you all about Credit River Art Glass.
JN :: I've always been fairly creative and knew I wanted to do SOMETHING creative with my life. With creative older sisters, I found myself in bead stores at a young age and would make macrame bracelets for friends and family (back in the 70s, when macrame was cool!). I took some jewelry classes in high school and loved it, but I didn't want to be a starving artist, so I went to school in Denver for Interior Design. I loved Interior Design. I'm really good at it because I have a strong eye for scale and proportion, color, too. Once we moved to Minnesota, I took a stained glass class and loved it. Took pottery, too, and loved it even more. I didn't do either once I started having kids.
I remember being in a bead store where this really cool young guy named Malcolm Potek brought in some of his fantastic fused glass beads and pendants. Around that time I also found a "do it yourself beadmaking kit" and saw someone on a morning show doing a demo of beadmaking. I really wanted to fuse glass like Malcolm Potek did, but I couldn't afford it. So I stuck with interior design and made jewelry for friends, popped into bead stores every so often, started a pearl obsession (anyone need pearls?) when I started noticing these really attractive lampwork beads. The really unique artsy kind, not the mass-produced kind. I found LampworkEtc, a forum for lampworkers and jewelry artists, scoured YouTube for glass beadmaking videos and then signed up for my first class at a local community art center. On the first night, we made those silly little donut shaped black beads (I think everyone starts with these little black beads!). I couldn't wait to try it myself! I jumped when I first lit my little Hot Head torch and when the cold glass rod shattered in the flame. But I figured it out. That first class gave me a really firm foundation to start with.
As I got deeper and deeper into glass beads and improved my shaping skills, my background as an interior designer kicked in. My eye for shape, scale, proportion and color have been a major benefit to shaping my style and moving me forward.
ABS :: There are a lot of romantic ideas about owning your own creative business. Do you do this work full time? What is the best part about being your own boss? What is the worst part?
JN :: I DO do this full time, at least I don't have another paying job.
The best part about being my own boss is that I get to torch when I want and be there for my kids when they need me. I'm home and should be able to maintain the household, but that has never been my strong suit. But dinner is usually on the table every night and I'm loving that I get to CREATE!
The worst part? I sometimes wish I had a studio away from the house because sometimes I get hung up on what there is to do at home and what I could be doing in my studio. When I neglect the house, I tend to feel guilty for 'playing' in my studio. It wasn't until recently that I got real with myself and started thinking about this more as a business that needs to be nourished and needed to be a priority.
JN :: I'm definitely inspired by other art... by shapes and little details that I see in everyday life. Motivation comes from loving what I'm doing and of course it motivates me even more when others live it as well. This has been really good for my ego.
ABS :: Glass is so intriguing to me. It is so fragile but yet so strong at the same time. Do you plan out your ideas, like sketching them, or do you let them grow organically when you are at the torch?
JN :: I've never been a planner... If I'm onto something and feel like I need to explore it further, I sit down at the torch and work it out. Sometimes I jot down notes so I can remember them, but a lot of what I do is just serendipity. I might be doing one thing and it completely gets away from me, so I sit back and look at it and take whatever direction it's already moving. A lot of what I do started out as me covering up mistakes! ;-)
ABS :: I love to see all the colored rods that lampwork aritsts always have in their studios. What color palette do you find yourself reaching for time and time again?
JN :: I love really rich colors mixed with organic colors and textures. If you look at the pictures of my beads soaking in water at the end of the day, I'm really heavily into cool colors -- green, blue, purple -- as well as really deep reds. I'll also pull in some rich oranges from time to time.
ABS :: I am currently hoarding two very precious acorn beads that I bought from you at Bead & Button. What is your favorite bead that you have ever made?
JN :: Hmmmmm...that's tough. I'm quite fond of my work ;-) But probably my favorite was an acorn that I made for my little sister when she was struggling through her divorce. Acorns represent strength, patience, potential... things she wasn't able to see in herself but I knew they were there. I asked her to wear it so that when she looked at it, touched it or just felt it hanging there, that she'd remember how proud I was for standing up for herself and her kids.
ABS :: As a creative, I am sure that you are brimming with new ideas all the time. Any you care to share with us?
JN :: My most recent was the addition of copper etched oak leaves to go with my acorns and they have been a HUGE hit. I'm really hoping to begin incorporating more metals with my pieces. Skeleton key beads are new for me and I'll be learning some new silversmithing techniques in an upcoming Kristina Logan class.
ABS :: What is next for Credit River Art Glass?
JN :: Continuing to push myself to make my work unique and TEACHING! I'm so excited about this prospect. I'm just delving into teaching. I'm so excited about it! I need to get my studio cleaned out so I can start having some one-on-one sessions and I'm also looking into setting up some studio space away from home. I've been asked to teach at the Midwest Glass Experience in February. And I've been contacted by a friend who is opening a studio and wants me to one of their first national instructors early next year. How awesome is that? I'd love to travel around the country and eventually around the world and teach others. Nothing is more exciting to me than to see someone 'get it', to see the excitement in their eyes.
Do check out Julie in the following places:
Credit River Art Glass
Enjoy the day!
Check out her brand spankin' new website at Tesori Trovati.