Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Perusing Ebay, I Discover Lampwork Bead Artist Lina Khan: A commentary & interview

Every few days I get an itch to browse Ebay. Naturally this can be a bead, jewelry, book, antique and vintage- anything junkie's path to destruction. Nevertheless, my aim one day this past spring was to find some good faceted pearls. Punching "pearls" and then "beads" into the search engine, I was pleasantly surprised, then rather horrified to find literally hundreds of pages of live auctions and "buy it now" pages of beads. Delving in, the time slipped by imperceptibly. As in the normal course of events, one thing led to another and pretty soon I found myself eagerly scanning the wonderful vintage glass beads. "click!" went my "buy it now" button. "click!" Another purchase! Good heavens. This could be terrible. I'd barely made it past page ten and had several purchases lined up.

I looked up other categories. Scanning the "Loose Beads" category, I was surprised to find lampwork bead artists. I had never thought of Ebay as an outlet for anything other than basic supply beads, let alone wonderfully talented lampwork bead artists. Bookmarking one particular artist that caught my eye, I checked out her website, which listed an online shop of her own plus another online shop, DaWanda, which is a mostly European version of Etsy, although most artists I noticed ship to North America. Now I am pleased to present one of my favorite bead artists to you, Lina Khan.

Interview with Lampwork Bead Artist Lina Khan:

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

My name is Lina Khan. My business name is Lina Khan Lampwork Glass Beads. My website is I live in the Canary Islands.

For the geographically challenged amongst us, where exactly are the Canary Islands?

The Canaries are seven islands of volcanic origin in the Atlantic Ocean. They are located off the northwestern coast of Africa (Morocco and the Western Sahara). They form an autonomous territory of Spain. La Palma, where I live, is one of the smaller Canary Islands. It is called "La isla bonita" because of the rich vegetation, the green mountains and if you ask me, the black sand beaches.

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

I am a glass bead maker, a lampworker, and I use soft glass for my designs. In my studio there is a two gas torch which is fired with butane gas and an O2 concentrator. I melt rods of transparent and opaque glass in the flame and wind the hot and liquid glass around a mandrel. Then I decorate it, for example, with small glass frits or self-made Murrinis. I use certain tools to bring the bead into form. As soon as the bead is completed I put it in a special digitally controlled kiln and let it slowly cool down for durability. Finally I clean the bead holes with a Dremel tool.
I love all kinds of Mandala beads, which means I like to work and decorate symmetrically from the center bead hole.

Lina, I saw your beads on Ebay months ago and was captivated by them. How did you get into beadmaking?

I was always fascinated by glass beads. Then I found a most beautiful Murrini bead in a bead store. Back home I searched the web and landed on Ebay's Lampwork category. Before long I owned beginner's equipment and decided to learn making glass beads.

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

Before lampworking I was a self-employed web designer and application programmer, which enabled me to create my own website and maintain it daily.

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

I work at home in my studio. The butane gas bottle and the O2 generator are located outside the room. It is calm and while I am working I am listening to the birds or to some good music.
All things are precisely placed. There are shelves for glass and supplies, a table with my torch, beading tools and mandrels. I also have one table for cleaning the beads and another for making jewelry and packaging. I have a pinboard to keep pencil drawings with new ideas.
The first thing I do in the morning is check my kiln for goodies and other surprises. Then I have a good cup of coffee while answering new mails and reading the newspaper. I photograph new beads in the morning sun, clean and prepare my workspace and new beads, and pack orders for shipping. After brunch I start lampworking. In the afternoon I take the beads to the post office. After dinner I format the morning bead photos for auctions or other web offers, update my website and also search the web for new supplies I need.

How do you stay inspired and motivated?

Well, sometimes if no design seems to suit, I have to go on working patiently until the MUSE is kissing me again. We have a large garden. For me, gardening is an easy way to relax and gain inspiration.
Motivation returns every morning when I check my kiln.

What type of beads and jewelry designs do you feel best compliment your art beads?

Mostly my beads are quite colorful and my jewelry is colorful too! I love to use wood, silver or semi-precious gemstones like turquoise. And I am also pleased to see the gorgeous pieces other jewelry makers create with my beads, made in different styles.

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

I have improved my stringer (thin glass) technique and I also do larger beads now, because I want to be able to paint on beads. For me it is a challenge, adding this new design element, opening space for more variety and expression.

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

Discount code is: LINAFIRE, which means 20 percent off any Etsy, DaWanda and shop offers from my website until September 30, 2008. Please checkout with the alternative payment method and add this code to the comment field. I will send you a Paypal money request. Thank you!

Many thanks, Lina from La isla bonita!

Written by guest editor Jennifer Stumpf. You can read Jennifer's blog and see her art beads and jewelry at her website and etsy shop


Gaea said...

Wow! What an amazing artist! I can't wait to see more!

Nia said...

Your art is beautiful. It's inspiring for me!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow! There is now drool on my keyboard. What a talented and lovely bead artist. Thank you for sharing with us.

Libby said...

Wow - again! What a feast for the soul Lina's beads are! Bright colors of happiness and joy - just perfect for these times. Thank you Jennifer! Excellent interview.

Unknown said...

Ebay has been a great selling venue for lampwork artists for over ten years now. Some of the prices that lampwork beads fetched on ebay in the late 1990s-early 2000s were probably responsible for many people to get into lampworking. Kudos to artists such as Lina who continue to make and sell great beads on ebay despite the current rough market conditions.

Melissa J. Lee said...

I own some of Lina's beads, and I love them - great interview!

industrialpoppy said...

I loved this interview and the glimpse into the artist's life! Very inspiring!