Wednesday, November 13, 2013


What an phenomenal experience!
This past weekend I taught my first professional glass beadmaking class @ Potek Glass in Minneapolis. Here's a short (LOL) play-by-play.
I wrote up a 34 page handout w/ detailed steps for each bead we planned to do in class.... this was not only awesome & much appreciated by my students & the studio, but it was a great idea for ME, too, because it made me break each bead down step-by-step & it made me better prepared to teach each bead. I was feeling a little intimidated a few days before because several of my students are old-time beadmakers... some of them have been making beads since the late 80s & 90s! But I know these ladies & they're awesome women, so I knew they'd be nice.... & they were. They made me really comfortable.
As I was driving to the studio my first day, I turned the corner & saw the building & started getting choked up. You know me, tenderhearted. It was really emotional, FINALLY getting the chance to do what I've dreamed of doing for several years now. Finally having the confidence & comfort in myself to put myself in front of these people & offer them a big part of me. I was pretty cool by the time I unpacked the truck & got up to the studio. :o)

I got there fairly early & took my time getting things set up... pretty much like how I get ready for shows. I felt good... calm... prepared & ready to get going!

Everyone arrived, a last minute opening allowed a lady that I know from Chicago to come... it was so awesome to see her. I ended up knowing 7 of my 10 students. The other 3 were fairly new to lampworking, which made me a bit nervous. I knew that my techniques are more intermediate/advanced & worried that they would hold the class back or just get frustrated.

I introduced myself, gave a little bit of background info & then had the class do the same. I showed them the beads we'd be making in class & then talked about the awesome tool that we'd be using the entire class... the Electric Mandrel Spinner. It's like a mini lathe that spins the mandrel (metal rod that we make the bead on) & it's AWESOME!! :o) I've gotten to the point that it's the only thing I use when I make beads (at least the base bead), it's super efficient & helps me make incredible pieces! When I started thinking about teaching, I knew I wanted to use it & base the class on it. I've been told by the inventor that I'm the first person to ever teach a full class w/ them... he is so excited about this.

Anyway... I introduced the spinner & gave them some info on it & then SHOWED them why I use it. Went through all sorts of simple beadmaking steps w/ it & sold them on it right then & there. Then we took about an hour & just had them play w/ it. It took me about a week to get over the learning curve on my own w/ it, but I've sat down one-on-one w/ others & have shown them the ins & outs of it & they pick it right up, so I knew these guys would "get it" & they did.

The different beads that we made were progressive... starting w/ the simplest but important lesson that would carry them through the to the next step & so on. I showed them how to work on precision as far as making specific size beads w/ specific shapes to fit specific utensils & things like that. We worked through the chemistry of using certain glasses w/ other glasses & metals.... & I showed them how to make specific "Julie beads" using my techniques. I gave up lots of secrets over the weekend. :o) A few of my newbies, a married couple, were lacking in some basic techniques, but really surprised me & took everything on, even if they struggled w/ it a bit. When we were leaving the first night, the husband came up to me w/ a big smile on his face & said he was having a blast! LOL. That made me really happy. I was worried they'd be nothing but frustrated. They (the couple) showed up the next morning & said that one of the things that really impressed them was that I didn't make them feel like they didn't belong & that I didn't point out their faults & was happy to give them tips to help them out.

Anyway...I had the group work their way up sizewise, too. By day two, they were able to make my little vases (secret keepers), which are good size beads AND kaleidoscope beads, which are huge for most beadmakers. Even my newbies tackled both of those... blew me away & made me really proud of them! Talking to them @ lunch, they told me that they had learned so much, even basic terminology that they hadn't learned in their basic classes. We had just finished our kaleidoscope beads & they came over, took a deep breath & just got these huge smiles on their faces... so proud of their accomplishment!

W/ about 2 hours left in class, we cleaned our spaces up & set up a few different stations to do some finishing techniques. I demoed how to finish their earring pairs... from making headpins, to handmade earwires. Demoed how to epoxy up their utensils & kaleidoscopes & then showed them the process of capping & coring their big hole beads w/ copper & silver... cutting their own copper discs to make bead caps... dapping (doming) them to fit the bead & then taking silver tubing (usually sterling, but we used aluminum in class for cost reasons... as well as these were practice beads, no need to waste pricey materials) & riveting the caps to the beads. (like the pictures I'm including).......then let them go do their thing while I was there to answer questions & give advice if they asked.

I was a little over ambitious, though, had way too much planned, so we had to skip over some stuff, which really bums me out. Wish it was a 3-day class, but so far none of the studios I've talked to want to do a 3-day. We could save the last day for putting everything together & could even use day 2 beads.... I could even add acorns & electroforming!

Everyone was just exhausted by the end of day 2!

So... I offered up the class spinners for 10% off retail & expected maybe half of them to purchase them. I ended up selling TEN of them, LOL. The couple only took one & the studio bought one. :o) What a kick. They really loved them. Scott, the inventor of the spinner, was so excited when I told him. Told me he wasn't surprised that I had done so well & that he was really proud of me. :o) I also sold some of my beads & things.

One student, my other newbie, stayed after & helped me pack up. What a sweetie. Malcom, the studio owner, talked to me a bit... first off, he looks @ me & says...."that handout! I could just kiss you on the lips!" LOL. He said he heard nothing but praise & definitely wanted to set up another class in about 6 months... but the students were asking if I could maybe do a single technique 3 hour class every month & he loved the idea! LOL. We decided on bi-monthly... think it'll be fun.

ANYWAY... I'm already talking to three studios about teaching... have set dates @ two of them... one in Kansas City & one in Austin, Texas, need to work out details first, though, after I tweak my class a bit. The third is in Torrance, California! I'm already set to teach in February in Madison, Wisconsin (they just put the word out on it & there's already a waiting list!) & in April in Winston-Salem, North Carolina! I'm so excited about that, since I have siblings who live right there! The school said that they've never had a guest lampwork instructor before, so it'll be interesting. I have a FB glass friend who lives there & asked me to think about teaching there & got me in touch w/ them. I have another glass friend in Michigan who wants to put me in touch w/ their glass guild. It's just crazy. Amazing, but crazy!!!

Here are a couple of pictures of class beads... mostly day-2 beads...
Day 1 Class Beads
Anna's day 2 bead!

Ann's day 2 beads. Look @ that kaleidoscope bead!

Judy's day 2 beads. 

Lynn's day 2 beads.
Add the Studio/Gallery to that w/ its First Thursdays & big open studio tours & I'm going to be a busy girl!! I'm excited about it, though... I could use the consistency of it all... keep me busy year-round instead of having months of lulls.
Till next time...


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