Thursday, March 4, 2010


This cone is nothing more than a round bead on an inverted cone with some swirly connector bits.

I'm always amazed that many beadmakers sigh with envy when they see sculptural beads. "I wish I could make sculptural beads."

And I always answer right back, "You CAN!"

First of all, they need to realize ALL beads are sculptural. Round IS a shape. Perfecting round is whole mastery unto itself.

But let's not get side tracked. The second most important skill in tackling a sculptural bead is dissecting the shapes. Everything in the universe is made up of a handful of shapes: square, rectangular, round, ellipse. Sure you can get fancy: cones, triangles, octagons... but... even an octagon is simply two squares on axis. Keep it simple.
This vase - a design taught by Leah Fairbanks - is two inverted cones with a cylinder on top, a disk on each end and a handle.

Look at the objects around you. You will see variation after variation of those four shapes. Look at your own body. The human form is nothing more than a series of ovals. Once you start looking at objects as nothing more than shapes it's rather simple to start thinking in terms of a bead.

 Two cones with some razor marks and some swirly bits.

If the piece is complicated, you need to address what to do when. You generally always start with a base bead but sometimes you need to start with a weird part... like when making ice cream sundaes. Start with a core of red and that cherry on top will always be perfect. Add it at the end and you can mess the whole piece up.

But you don't want to put on any parts that can't take the heat... save those for the end. Same with pieces that might pop off.

Once you've thought the bead through, choose your colors and pull your stringers, take a deep breath and you're off! It can be exhilarating, especially if you like large beads like I do. Just breathe. And if it falls apart? "Oh Sh!t, flat fish!" That always works for me! Some of my coolest fish were sculptures that fell apart.

Don't let those fins break or let those eye's pop off! (He actually was meant to be a fish!)

So we come to THE most important part of sculptural work... KEEP TRYING. Try one every day. You'll be amazed where the glass takes you!

Can you see it??? Cone with some added glass for the head shape + sideways cone + disk = Witch hat.


Maybeads said...

Holly, I feel the same way! I think any lampworker has it in them to make them. Sculptural beads just take a little planning and figuring - and practice. On the other hand, I'm totally jealous of people who make gorgeous wearable beads. :0)

Alison said...

Excellent way to look at making sculptural beads! I will definitely be rethinking mine! Thanks! (I'm apparently very "exclamatory" this early evening :)

Kate said...

Ahh, always best to return to the basics. I felt like I was back in art class, but everything can be reduced down to that and with that reduction comes confidence that the artist can achieve it! Great post, love the fish Holly.

I wanted to Congratulate you, you have been nominated for the Sunshine Blog Award!

Thanks for having such a wonderful and interesting blog!

Emakaye said...

Holly, you have hit the nail on the head. Thank you for that post. I feel exactly the same way. A little time, planning ,maybe some research and ofcourse practice will get your there eventually.