This interview with glass bead and jewelry artist Cynthia Tucker is a little nugget I have been holding onto for a while now. Cynthia gave me a delightful glimpse into her studio, inspiration, and how she became involved in this fascinating art form. I truly hope you enjoy!
Can you tell us a little about your business, Sea of Glass? Happy to! I melt colored glass rods using a 2000°F torch, winding the molten glass around a steel mandrel, sculpting and shaping the glass into tiny works of art. In a word, I make glass beads.
What first attracted you to lampwork, and what keeps you engaged in the art? A friend showed me a handful of beads she had made. I started assembling some things for her, using her beads (bracelets, key chains, landyards), and over a year later, progressed to learning to make my own beads. I’m eternally grateful to Linda for her encouragement over the years.
I continue it for several reasons: Melting glass is like therapy ~ enjoying a rainbow of colors to work with and the mesmerizing of the flame. There is also the challenge of creating something new and unique, or doing custom work. Possibilities are unlimited. In addition, I stay engaged because it helps with income.
I see your tag line is “nature inspired, formed in fire” do you have a favorite source of natural inspiration
I’m a big fan of the seashore and all of its lifeforms, both land and amphibious. I have interpreted many of these creatures in my work: Fish, starfish, turtles, octopus, and a variety of shells. Creating an image of a seascape in glass is one of my most enjoyable beads to make.
My torch is a Nortel Minor Burner, a surface-mix torch, securely fastened to my tabletop. The red hose delivers tanked propane, which sits outside under the window. The green hose delivers oxygen.
My chair is an adjustable and comfortable office chair with wheels, handy since my kiln is behind me, and I just roll backward 2 feet, to place the finished piece in the computer controlled kiln.
Do you teach any lampworking or jewelry making classes? Yes I do! I began teaching Beginning Glass Beadmaking classes in 2007 at Poplar Grove Plantation Cultural Arts Barn. Currently, I’m teaching classes at Art Exposure, a gallery with studio space north of Hampstead, where I have also taught a wire-wrapping class, using my beads.
When someone comes to you with a custom order for something different from the norm how do you approach the challenge? I’ve had quite a number of custom requests for things I’ve never made before. When someone asks, “Do you make owls?”, I reply, “No, but I WILL!”
I try to discover from the customer what the most important feature would be for the piece: color, size, shape. If it’s an animal, whether they prefer full body or head only, and how much detail to include. After gathering this info, I do research on the item or animal, for example, having a variety of photographs to study shape, form, color and placement of facial features. I then proceed to my studio to gather and prepare the specific materials.
Tell me about some of the people you have met in connection with your business (customers, distributor, other lampworkers)?
I attend a workshop most years, in the mountains of NC I attend a 3 day workshop most years, in the mountains of NC, where glass peeps from around the southeast join together to learn from each other, play with glass, and generally have a great time together. Glass artists, or lampworkers, are fun and inventive, and I’ve made friends there, who return year after year.
The guys at Mountain Glass Arts in Asheville, NC, are great to work with when I need to order supplies. They’re almost local and ship the same day.
I have a great following of return customers, and many of them visit my booth at the markets. I’ve completed few large custom orders for businesses, who want certain colors and items.
What networking do you do that you feel helps your business? One that I think gets the most visibility would be when I create special items for my fellow vendors at the 2 Farmers’ Markets I participate in. I create items for them to wear that represent their work. For example my buddy Angela makes peppered pickles, so I have made pepper earrings and necklaces for her, even some with jars!
My fellow vendor, Colleen Bannerman, makes wine, for her I made grape earrings very similar to this pendant.
Other networking opportunities would include all of the cyber options: Facebook; Networked Blogs on FB; Bead Soup Blog Party; “Lampwork Etc.”, and other glass forums.
If someone is interested in your work, how can they find more. (Disclaimer from the blogger, not all links may remain active after the posting date. If you find a “dead” link or dated information please comment below. Thanks)