Thursday, March 17, 2016
An Introduction: Gardanne Beads
This is my first Art Bead Scene post and I feel like I have come full circle. Before I opened my ETSY shop in 2009 ABS was the first jewelry blog I stumbled upon. I was pretty green, so ABS quickly became an excellent resource for me on starting a new business in the art bead and jewelry community.
My name is Anne, and Gardanne Beads is my business. I make and sell enameled jewelry components. My unplanned journey into the art bead business began when I took a lampworking class from my daughter's 4th grade art teacher. I ended up catching a serious case of the lampworking bug, they honestly should have warning labels on those classes.
For a couple years I continued to rent torch time at a local hot shop, and make glass beads with other like minded glass addicts. The friends I made in this class are friends for life. You can imagine I had amassed a large collection of glass beads by this time, and I had to figure out a way to continue to support my glass habit.
I had discovered ETSY and stalked the site on a regular basis. Then in 2009 I mustered up the courage to open my ETSY shop Gardanne Beads, I had nothing to lose.
These are some of the first lampwork beads I listed on ETSY.
As my confidence built, and I began to think that this may become slightly more than a hobby. The next logical step for me was to create my own lampworking studio. I had the perfect space a detached garage a few steps away from my home. Here are some early photos of my lampworking studio, in its less cluttered days.
Some of you that know me and my work are probably saying at this point, " Where are your lampwork beads? Your shop is full of enamel." Your right and that was not a part of the plan either, I may as well admit at this point there really was no plan.
In 2010 the same way I stumbled upon the Art Bead Scene blog, I also discovered a shop on ETSY run by Barbara Lewis. Which is a name I am sure most of you are familiar with in the world of torch fired enamel. Barbara's first book Painting with Fire had not been published yet. However, at the time Barbara sold a tutorial on ETSY which described a torch fired enameling technique that she learned from Joseph Spencer of Safety Harbor, Florida.
At the time the only metal I had around my studio was brass, so that is where my enameling experience began. I was happy with the results I was getting, so in 2010 I added enameled pieces to my ETSY shop.
Here are some photos of some of my first enameled pieces. Fortunately my technique has improved over the years.
When I started enameling I wanted to learn as much as I could about the process and different techniques to try. All of the information I gathered kept instructing me that brass is a metal that cannot be enameled. Fortunately, I had already been selling my enameled brass online for over a year, and none of my customers had called with any issues. I could also gather from my personal experience that enameling on brass was working. The only reason I mention this is that if I had read a book before I started enameling, I would have never attempted to enamel on brass. So the lesson I took away from this experience was to not be afraid to try new techniques, things that are not supposed to work may yield a positive result.
One look at my ETSY shop today and you can see that my enameling has taken over. Lampworking is still my first love and my goal is to have some glass beads on my table at the Bead and Button show in June of this year.
Here are some of my current enamel pieces. Again I'm just trying new techniques and combining different materials until I get a result that I am happy with.
My hobby has turned out to be an incredibly rewarding job that allows me to travel to shows around the country, sell online all over the world, and meet amazingly talented and generous people.
Thank you Art Bead Scene contributors for giving me this opportunity to be a part of your team. I feel incredibly lucky to make a living doing something I love.
Gardanne Handcrafted Enamel Facebook Group - Find one-of-a-kind enamel pieces here.