To introduce you to her work I have enclosed our interview.
1. Tell me a bit about your background and how long you have been an artist/crafter.
I have been making art for about 40 years. I have embroidered, quilted, painted, woven baskets, made botanical crafts, and finally landed in the land of lampworking glass, where I plan on staying as long as I can. My name 'HelensHarvest' was kept from my wreath making days when my son Harvest used to help me at shows, and as his name implies, harvesting.
2. Where do you find your inspiration?
Mainly from nature. I have painted many landscapes and flowers from life, and often pick a bouquet of wild or cultured flowers to bring into my studio as models. I also love antique fabrics and wallpapers for design ideas, since much of my work is floral. I'm in my sixth year now, so notice annual and seasonal trends in my work.
3. Do you sell your work, or is it purely for pleasure?
Purely for profit. :) I mainly sell on Ebay at http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Helens-Harvest-of-Lampwork-Beads (seller name - helensharvest), occasionally from my website, http://www.helensharvest.com/, and am venturing into etsy at http://www.helensharvest.etsy.com/, also as helensharvest.
4. If someone was looking to take up this craft should they have any related experience before they start?
This is not an easy craft to begin, because it's so expensive. I sold handmade soap, bread, and flowers at a farmer's market for a year to afford my studio, which is constantly being upgraded. Getting over fear of fire was a little difficult, and still is.
5. What would be your top 5 tips for a beginner?
- Save your money to start. I practised with polyclay for a year, just to get the feel of how beads hang...maybe that's why I still make sculpted beads. :)
- Study safety at several internet forums.
- Practise with cheaper glass. Save your Rubino for when you can work with oxygen.
- Go ahead and sell your annealed beads when you think they are ready. Your work will improve with however many hours you spend behind your torch, but beginner's beads are good, too.
- Beware hanging around lampwork forums. Coveting every new tool and glass can get expensive, especially since you aren't making beads when you are on the computer. :)
6. What would be your top 5 items of essential equipment?
- Fire extinguisher
- Oxygen Concentrator
- Vent Hood
- And a few hand tools make up a basic studio. I couldn't leave any out.
7. Can you recommend a technique or ‘tips’ book ideal for a beginner?
I learned from Making Glass Beads, by Cindy Jenkins. I checked it out from the library several times. Corina Tettinger has a great book, Passing the Flame.
8. Can you recommend any brands to look out for, when buying equipment or kit?
Shop around for who has the best prices for the glasses you use. I like my GTT Bobcat torch.
Thank you Helen for allowing me to interview you and the best of luck with your new Etsy store!