Friday, November 23, 2007

Beadmaker/Designer Interwiew: Mango Tango Designs

A colorfully oxidized bead with dragonflies and spirals.

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

Bev Gallerani, Mango Tango Designs

I divide my time between Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Naples, Florida. The common element unifying these two locations is how they inspire me to create all things related to nature and the sea. I am happiest when I can view H2O –- whether that’s the ocean, a lake, or a mud puddle!

I have two websites:, which will launch on January 2, 2008, and The MangoTangoDesigns site currently redirects traffic to my Etsy shop until it officially launches. When it does, it will carry the higher-end pieces in my line, while the more affordable work will continue on Etsy.

An oxidized bead featuring acorns and oak leaves

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

My beads are made of Precious Metal Clay in paste and sheet form, occasionally embellished with gemstones, fused glass and cubic zirconia. The beads are created with wood clay which is hand-formed over a wooden mandrel. I paint fine silver paste over the wooden clay form in many layers, ensuring that each layer is thoroughly dry before adding the next. Most beads require 12-15 layers of silver paste before they are sturdy enough to withstand firing and the daily rigors of jewelry wear. Once I have finished layering the silver paste, I embellish the bead with handformed end caps and apply decoration in silver sheet form. When the design calls for it, I add gemstones, glass or cubic zirconia and form bezels out of PMC syringe. I then remove the bead carefully from the mandrel and fire it; the firing process burns out the wood clay and leaves the hollow silver bead. After firing, I wire-brush the bead and tumble it in a rotary tumbler to work-harden it and bring out the luster. At this stage some beads are oxidized with liver of sulfur to give them the impression of age and define the highlights; sometimes I stop the oxidation process early to achieve beautiful hues of copper, purples and blues. Oxidation can produce some wonderful surprises!

Fine silver and sterling drop earrings featuring borosilicate beads by

How did you get into beadmaking? What are some of the important things you do for your business?

Once I discovered the joys of working with Precious Metal Clay through taking a class at a bead shop, I went through a frenzy of creation and soon became a Certified PMC Artisan. That process taught me several wonderful techniques, including creating hollow form beads from fine silver. Not only do I create my own beads, but I frequently incorporate both my own beads and those made by other artisans into my silver work. I favor borosilicate beads due to their durability, luminosity and color intensity. I enjoy supporting and networking with other artisans.

Brand new fused dichroic glass and sterling necklace featuring glass I fused

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

Well, I have two workspaces divided by about 1,800 miles, so that can be a little bit of a challenge! I try to keep it portable. I have two identical workbenches, one in my studio on Cape Cod and the other at our condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Using twin workspaces helps to keep me oriented. The supplies that aren’t spread chaotically all over my workbenches are stored in plastic bins and containers. On the Cape, I keep my kiln in my garage. In Florida, it sits on my lanai when it’s in use! Trying to be frugal, I move my supplies between locations rather than attempt to have duplicates of everything. The kilns and tumblers are the only exception.

A typical day finds me up and sipping coffee in my studio at 6 a.m. Sometimes I need to be reminded to eat -- I tend to become a little too engrossed in my work. I rarely look up while I’m working. When I’ve got pieces firing in the kiln, I usually turn my attention to some other facet of jewelry making. Sometimes I’ll cut or grind glass while I’m waiting … I like to multitask!

Fine silver and apatite anklet featuring my own molded seashell charms

How do you stay inspired and motivated?

Oh, that’s the easy part! I haven’t been doing this for very long … until about a year ago, I was a professional miniaturist. Then a friend dragged me along to my first PMC class. I got hooked and the rest, as they say, is history.

I have many more ideas than time to execute them. I’ve also taken or plan to take many more classes in complementary disciplines that will enhance my work. For example, I just finished a Kumihimo beading class so I can make my own beaded necklaces to use with my PMC pendants. I also recently completed a glass fusing workshop. In the coming months I hope to achieve Level II PMC Certification and learn to enamel and water-etch my beads.

Fine silver necklace featuring glass cabochons by

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

I think my style leans slightly toward the contemporary, although my background in miniatures demands a great deal of detail and precision in my work. I’m not so much the freeform contemporary type as the exact replica type!

I do, definitely, design my own jewelry. I have tried really hard to plan and sketch out my pieces in advance, but things never seem to happen in that organized a fashion. My pieces tend to design themselves. Whatever flows out of my hands is what I go with!

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

Since I have recently added glass fusing to my skill set, I plan to incorporate more glass and embellishments to my beads, as well as expand my techniques to include enameling and water etching, and create beads that are only one design element in a larger work.

My lakeside studio and workbench on Cape Cod

A special offer from Bev: ArtBeadScene1107 for 10% off any purchase over $50 at, expires 6/08.


Melissa J. Lee said...

Great interview - I love your work!

Lis said...

Her work is so awesome. :)