I recently stumbled across the beautiful Etsy shop Venerable Bead and was stunned by the beauty of her handiwork. I am very excited today to introduce you to Paula and her gorgeous creations! She was so sweet to answer a few of my questions and I am sharing that with you today! Here are a few of my favorite pieces... Although I am starting to think that everything is my favorite in her shop! I love this animal inspired ring...
Tell me a little about you: Well my name is Paula McDonough and I am The Venerable Bead. I am a wife and mother of two great kids ages 8 and 12. By day I am a clinical social worker working for an employee assitance prgram and by night I melt rods of borosilicate glass in the flame of a torch to create beads and pendants. I sell my work in my Etsy shop www.venbead.etsy.com
What got you started in Lampworking/metalwork?
I’ve had a love affair with jewelry making since 1994. It started with polymer clay and moved into semi-precious gems and silver. The glass bug hit in early 2005 while I was reading a Bead and Button magazine article about a borosilicate bead artist who started glassing in her 40's. I had never seen borosilicate glass before but I felt drawn to it. After that, I started buying boro beads from self representing artists to incorporate into my name bracelets. Then it occurred to me that I could probably learn how to make them myself. In the spring of 2005 I took a wonderful nine week lampworking class at the Worcester Center for Crafts taught by the very talented Jennifer Geldard and in July 2005 I set up a glass studio in my home. This past Fall I took a six week metals class so I could learn some basic metalworking skills to add to the glasswork.
Lampworking is an expensive venture! I work with borosilicate glass which is a hard glass. It requires more heat to melt than soft glass so the beginner kits and torches won't work. I have a dual fuel benchburner. It operates on natural gas and oxygen. I have a ventilation hood with a strong fan to exhaust the fumes. I have a brick kiln that holds the beads and pendants at 950 degree F while I am torching then ramps them up to 1050-1200 F to strike the colors and then ramps them down slowly overnight to relieve the stress from the glass. This process is called annealing. It's a very important step in making the glasswork strong and durable. The special eyewear glassworkers wear is also important to filter out the solar flare from the glass while it is melting. Of course there are a host of other brass and graphite tools and presses that can be used but gravity and heat are the most important.
I am inspired by trends in fashion and jewelry. I love picking up fashion magazines or taking a walk around the mall. I love to surf the internet and look at my lampworking sites. I have a serious bead and glass magazine addiction too. Etsy inspires me. I love to sit and travel through the time machine. The colors the textures it’s all so inspiring. I am a geocacher and nature often inspires me too. My kids inspire me. They are funny and my toughest critics and they tell me what works for them and that makes me want to be a better lampworker. I take all of it with me to the torch but then I go to my zen place and all that has inspired me is revealed on more of an unconscious level.
I found etsy in the spring of 2007 from my lampwork forum. I started seeing that other glass artists had set up shops and were singing Etsy’s praises. I LOVE Etsy. It affords me more time with my family and more time to actually create. I think one of the things I like best about Etsy is that the customer base has already made a commitment to buy handmade and appreciates the talent and the time involved in the craft. That customer means everything to me. That customer knows when she has received one of my pendants in the mail that she has purchased a little bit of me. That customer feeds my soul.
Something else very inspiring about her work is that she makes the Hearts Of Hope pendants with all proceeds benefiting her friend who is battling breast cancer! You can read more about this here.