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How have I fallen into beads !
What's for sure is that we can't say that I've always created jewelry. Even then, when I was a little girl, I don't remember to have string some beads like a lot of my friends. This passion came to me much later and I think that my moving to the province of Quebec has a lot to do with it. Born in Mons, Belgium, my journey brought me to flirt with the arts domain all throught my life and it has continue with my country change. A lot of immigrants could tell you that changing country open you roads that you would never have imagine or dare to explore. I've always been passionated by artistics occupation. I, for that matter, studied in theatre interpretation at Mons conservatory. However, I've always felt the need to express my artistics feelings manualy. Drafting and painting kept me occupied.... only for a small amout of time. I could'nt find the artistic way that would permit me to bring my personal touch and would have me devellop my artistic style.
I've fallen into beads by chance when a friend suggested to initiate me to the base techniques of stringing glass beads and copper wire twisting. What started as a hobby quickly turn into a passion. During every minute of free time that I had ( and I worked a lot to create these moment of free time ! ), I was creating plenty of new jewelry, researching new concept, looking into new materials and different shapes. I never created two time the same jewelry. Each of them had to have their own personality. In fact, I had found my medium but now my style.
Back then, after a few months of stringing, I started to get bored by the beads being sold at the arts and crafts shop. Not enought choice and even worse, everybody could have the same thing as me. Nothing original in itself. One day, while surfing on the web, I found a class where they would teach us how to do our own glass beads. The minute after, I was on the phone with the lady and reserved my place in the course. Right after the first minutes of playing with my mandrels and my rods I already had fallen in love. I started to leard my new craft by renting a burner and sitting behind it all day long. I was so into it that a couple of time I completely forgot to eat. Yet my worst experience happend during this time. Once back at home after a day behind the burner, I realised that I had a big stain right on my face and that I took the subway without looking at me in a mirror before leaving the place. No wonder why everyone was looking at me !!!
This experience and the fact that I was now re-assured by the fact that I had fun playing with melting glass prompt me to buy my own equipment. I surfed the web, did some shopping, ordered and had Alex build me a little studio. Since then, I'm working from home whenever I feel like it and I work on improving my techniques day after day. This is also a part that pleases me. There is ALWAYS something to learn in beadmaking. There is always a combination of colors that you haven't done yet. It keeps you on the edge of always re-inventing yourself and push your learning curve. Because of this, I can guarantee my clients of the unique character of each of my creations, beads or jewelry.
Resume (or "when all roads lead to Rome")
With a good burner ( I use the minor of Nortel), an oxygen tank and one of propane both with regulators, connection hoses and small furnitures related to beadmaking, you are ready to start. Eventually, an annealling kiln will be a must to keep the glass to a constant temperature and help it cool down slowly to prevent breaking. For beginners, an inox bowl with vermiculite will do. You will know really easily when you will be at the level of buying a kiln. When more than half of your beads will come out of the vermiculite broken because they are not annealed or have cooled down to fast it's time to buy a kiln. Now, you're making complex beads with different colors and you need a kiln not to kill all your work. Don't push back this purchase, it will save you a lot of frustration not even talking time and money in the end. The feeling of deception of seeing his hard labor cracked is enough to get depress. Believe-me, I talking of what I know...
Another good investment for you health is a hood. The most quietest possible, budget permitting wise. Here in quebec, winters are somewhat cold so it's not really appropriate to leave the window open to bring fresh air and get the fouled air out. Hence the need of hood. Chemicals reactions that happens while flameworking can be very dangerous is you work with enamels or with silver/gold foils. If ever you're thinking of getting or are pregnant, I seriously recommend STOPPING all lampworking. If like me you can't, make sure you buy the best masks possible (and wear it). Not the one you buy by the dozens.... And don't do ANY enamels or metals. They are the worst.
On another topic, I'm on the verge of buying an oxygen concentrator to stop buying oxygen tank. When I'm into high production time, I can use up to two oxygen tank a week. At the cost of oxygen these days vs the investment on a concentrator, I think the investment wins. I still have to verify some data, get some questions answered and I will buy one. I'll let you know of any developpements.
As of now, I'm only using Effetre/Moretti Glass rods that are made in Italy, on the Murano island not too far from Venise. For a brief history, in 1292 glass "industry" in Venise is moved not too far on the island of Murano following the fire threat that happend because of the use of glass kilns. In the XIVth century, Venise has become the world capital for glass working. The large color palette of Moretti give you infinite inspirations. More over, when you'll have enought of the offered colors ( this should not happend too fast...), you will be able to create your own colors while you combine one with another. You have now just increase tenfold your possibilities.
Meet Muriel Duval team:
Myself : Creater, beadmaker, website ideas, teacher, mother
Alex : Shipping Manater, Webmaster, accountant, photographer,
coffee maker in the morning, name-it-he-does-it department.
Guarantee and Durability department manager.
Feet carpet, Get-up-and-feed-me-it's-already 6:30AM-department,
most working employee of each month ( at least that's what she's saying)
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