Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Bead that Launched an Obsession

For every lampwork beadmaker, there is one bead that makes her sit up and take notice. One that makes her say, I want to make that!

For me, it wasn't even a glass bead I like to wear! But it was one I knew I could sell!

My rubber stamp line is rather unique. It was launch by a chef and created explicitly to get images onto pastry and is safe to touch food products. I've done quite a few food shows.

Somewhere along the line, having made jewelry since my teens, I got the idea that selling little pendants made from lampwork shaped like cookies, cakes and candy would make a great impulse item at the food shows. Think of it: these ladies would be at these shows for days on end, learning new skills and buying product for their business and suddenly, at my checkout, they saw jewelry that reflected their line of work! The pendants sold very well!

And the one that sold best had a little lampwork wedding cake bead on it. A lot of pastry artists make their living off of weddings. My customers all confessed to cutting it down to the wire, putting a wedding cake together immediately before the wedding. Often having to change out of flour / sugar coated clothes to get to the wedding on time. My little pendants made them feel put together even though they may not have had time to shower! Jewelry has that effect on people!

I made arrangements with a lampworker to buy wholesale pastry beads. And here's where my tale diverts into a tale of two art worlds.

I had studied cake decorating for years. And while the rules have changed now into more of an anything goes on a wedding cake, most traditional cakes are all white. White icing, white decorations. A cake decorator would never put white roses and green leaves. Uh-uh, NO WAY!

As soon as I started taking glass classes from better known teachers, I realized green leaves are just part of the repertoire. Make a flower, make a green leaf...

While my little wedding cakes with colored flowers sold just fine, the whites ones with the green leaves languished on the table. A baker, my target market, would not buy it because to her eye, it wasn't realistic!

I would have to beg and beg my beadmaker, NO green leaves on the wedding cake. The beads would arrive and there would be green leaves. Back and forth we went until one day I just knew I had to make my own!


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