Friday, August 13, 2010

Bead History with Tom Holland

Last night I attended a presentation by internationally-renowned pioneer beadmaker and bead history enthusiast Tom Holland, organized by the Glass Shoppe Studio and the OGBA. First of all, I still can't believe how big and active the beadmaking community is here! There were at least 50 people at this lecture. Secondly, I was blown away by how much I still didn't know about glass beads. Thirdly, Tom Holland is fabulous and adorable.

I missed the first part of the lecture because of slow buses and me being slow in figuring out the exact location. But I was there in time to hear Tom talk about ancient beads with the eye of a beadmaker, reverse-engineering them and explaining the techniques and tools that would have been used, and his theories on trade and influence between beadmaking cultures.

For example, it took him 5 years to figure out how to make this Islamic Folded Bead! Without thinking about it, I would have guessed that this bead was made with twisted cane, but no - it was folded from a thin disk.

His enthusiasm about ground murrine chevron beads and chevron-esque beads was cool, but then when we got to see his own work (and the work of his equally reknowned partner, Sage) it really hit home. His work, and especially the lapidary-faceted work, was just stunning. And we were only seeing what was left over after several days of teaching and visiting in Toronto and Ottawa!

It was also really humbling to hear the story of this cool pioneer who built his own torch and struggled to develop brand-new techniques with no teachers or resources other than his collection of ancient beads. These are techniques that we all take for granted now as beadmakers, but only because artists and teachers like Tom and Sage and a handful of others in the 80s and 90s opened the doors.

For more on Tom Holland's local classes (which I sadly can't even consider taking during our big move as money is too tight) check out Lise's blog PERLES DE VERRE (in French, translated through Google Translate - I love how they translated the name Sage into Wise!)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Texture & Pattern Inspiration Part 3 - Birds

I've been lucky to see a lot of gorgeous birds so far this summer. I'm very priviledged to have a family with a fabulously cottagy log cabin on a lake with a healthy loon population. I won't lie, it was a MAJOR incentive for moving back to Ottawa! I also get to go boating regularly with my father and see wetland flora and fauna. Even though bright colours are associated more with tropical wildlife, it's amazing to think that these vivid and inspiring colours and patterns can be found in our own Ottawa-Valley backyard.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Summer Texture & Pattern Inspiration Part 2 - Plants

Our demonstration a few weeks ago helped "take the edge off" of my ache to create things in glass. But I'm still dreaming away and looking forward to pouring out some new ideas once the studio is ready. Only 6 weeks to possession day, and around month after that 'til we're set up enough to start playing. It's been a busy summer, though, rediscovering the Ottawa Valley!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Summer Texture & Pattern Inspiration Part 1 - Insects

Some things I saw this summer in the Ottawa Valley and surrounding area that I'm keeping in mind as texture and pattern inspirations...