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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dinner & Chat with Fellow Beadmaker Sylvie Lansdowne

My friend and beadmaker, Sylvie Elise Lansdowne was making beads long before I even knew that lampwork existed. We live close-by and get together for dinner every so often to chat. Both of us love whimsical sculptural glass and have found lots of common threads in our ways of looking at it.

The top photo is of Sylvie's "Head Over Heels" bracelet that she has sold in a kit and has taught around the country. She has an Etsy shop that carries her different kits. You can find it here.

After over 2 hours of constant chatter last night, we decided to share some of our dinner conversations through each of our blogs. There are tips and tricks as well as just two beadmakers' way of looking at life.

Remember my blog post about what artists should wear? Of course that hit the table running. Sylvie believes that when selling, we should dress like our customers. Hers wear cute and funky bright clothes and great jewelry. I have only met a few of my customers, so I'm not sure what to wear. I know that I'll need to leave my sweatshirts and flip flops at home. I tend to dress in solid colors so my jewelry shows up more, but perhaps it's time to break free and find my inner artist. Sylvie suggested Quacker Factory on QVC. I'm going to check them out. The problem is, Sylvie is very tall and can wear patterns, while I'm just 5'3" and think solids will make me look taller. (and slimmer too, won't it?) If you have style advice, please let me know. Sylvie is also a shoe lover, and I'm a Teva flip flop or Chucks type fan, so I would be open to artist shoe selections too. This could be a new feature, "dress the beadmaker".

Sylvie is still hoping to get into Bead & Button and I would love to go too. It's an uncharted territory for me, while she has lots of experience. If you are going, please look for her. I promise, you will love everything she has. If anyone knows of a booth to share or has words of advice for me for B&B, please feel free to let me know about it.

We chatted about longer length camp type classes and Sylvie told me about her week at Haystack, in Deer Isle Maine. She chatted about how observing other areas of craft and art will lead you to different ways of learning, styles, etc. For example, a cermics class had people make all the parts to a teapot and then put them in the middle and each take someone else's pieces to put a new one together. They were asked to manipulate the parts and change them. People are more willing to change other people's pieces because they don't have the same "ownership" in that handmade art. That was how Sylvie's pass the bead exercise was started which is widely used by other teachers and groups today.

I'm headed to the Appalachian Center for Craft July 5-10 this summer for an extended glass class with Shane Fero and Fred Birkhill. I'm so excited. Other than it being glass, I'm not sure what we'll be learning. But I've always admired their work and know that it will stretch me as a beadmaker and all their years in glass means there will be a lot to learn.

We also discussed the value of taking from teachers who have opposite styles of what we typically do. I know I've mentioned that concept here before. It stretches your brain to think a little differently and for your hand and eye coordination to get a work out too. Yes it's hard, but it's also like people who only hang out with others who think the same way. How do you grow, if that's all you do?

Sylvie and I are going to be roommates at the Gathering. I know she'll be a good calming effect on me as I'm scheduled to teach my first class there. She's already taught at the Gathering, so I know that last minute pointers will be available.

And one more tip, there's a magazine available at Barnes & Noble and other book stores called Artful Blogging that is a must read. I'm heading out this morning to find it. It's not technically oriented, but more artistic.

There was so much more - life, kids, more and more glass, new stuff we're working on, etc. Two hours of chatter flew by and now I'm looking forward to the next time we share a meal and lots of our lives. To read her version of our dinner, click on her name in the top paragraph.

By the way, that's my bead in the bottom photo. It was a personal exercise, (and the only kind I do), to take a simple coloring book picture and turn it into a bead. But that's another post.

Tomorrow I'm writing about how I added lots of color to my System 96 glass and I'll show you how.