Monday, April 27, 2009

Studio Time: Bead Berries - Custom Bead Sets

In the process of reconnecting with glass, learning my new lampwork setup, and perfecting techniques, I've been making a lot of spacers. LOTS of spacers. It sounds boring. It really isn't. I've learned that, while decorated beads are the desired end goal, spacers still fill a vital role in the world of handmade jewelry. After all, classic, elegant and timeless styles are developed from a repetition of elements. Some of my most popular finished pieces are really, just a set of spacers (shh...don't tell them that...)

But, to me, they aren't spacers. When you put these beads together, they look so juicy and shiny. You just want to scoop them up and do something with them.

I've been doing a lot with small beads (under 10 mm in size), so I'm calling these small bead sets: Bead Berries. To me, this is more than just semantics (one person's Bead Berry is another person's spacer) and marketing (a spacer by any other name is still a spacer.) To me, this is the art of suggesting the potential. My minds shoots off into fireworks with the possibilities of a set of simple glass beads. It's about accurately describing the beads so you know what you are getting.

So, this post is introducing the Kanna Glass Studios line of Bead Berries. Within the Bead Berry line, there are three categories:

Cherry Berries: these are my as-perfect-and-round-as-I-can-possibly-get-them-without-being-a-machine beads. If they were vintage cars, they would be "cherry." These are for the projects that need as much consistency and rounded beads as possible. While I strive for consistency and similarity, these are still handmade and there is some variation in the sizing.

Folk Berries: I appreciate someone who has honed their craft to achieve exquisite form and detail. As I was quality checking my beads for the Cherry Berry pile, I was sorting the beads that didn't make the cut into another pile. They didn't meet the Cherry standard, but it was bothering me. Until I realized why. I also appreciate rustic, folksy, handmade work. I like mixing these two aesthetics together. They play off each other and complement each other. I think this is why I love Southwest Style (U.S.) so much. It mixes clean elegance with organic form, design, and texture. These beads take just as much work as a Cherry Berry (formed and cleaned). These are the "pot quite nerfect" beads that didn't make the Cherry cut but still have the folksy appeal for the who enjoy the rustic charm of handmade beads.

To the connoisseur of Provence, Tuscan or Southwest style...this bead's for you.

Glibble Berries: these bead shapes were born from a pair of cheeky little beads that refused to form into Cherry Berries. I had been striving to achieve the very best technique I possibly can, but hadn't yet embraced the Folk Berry concept. Since I couldn't perform bead CPR and rescue the shape, I did a bunch of pressing with a small tool. These are my favorite beads. Glass dribbled onto the mandrel, shaped into a well-formed round, then pressed with a small tool to form organic facets. These take just as much work as the Cherry and Folk Berries. Out of my entire pile of Cherry Berries and Folk Berries, these are the ones I couldn't keep my hands off. They are tactile and fiddly...perfect for the twiddler.

Want some? I'm offering custom bead sets (24 beads) in single colors of choice. Custom Request Listing in my Artfire shop for each type. I can take one-two orders at a time and will re-post the listing after the order is filled. I'm not sure how long I plan to make spacers, so if you've been dreaming of a selection of beads in your favorite colors, take advantage of this offer! Please note: I do have a wide range of glass colors available, but not every single color under the glass sun, so some color flexibility is greatly appreciated.


  1. I like the names you have given your various Berry beads, especially Glibble! It's been a while since I have done simple spacers. I love them but always get distracted by something else. Interestingly, spacers always sell. "Here's your sign!"

  2. Ah, a Bill Engvall quote. I miss redneck humor...I still use the Jeff Foxworthy word, "pandelirium." It's one of the funniest words.

    Speaking of's fun to make up names. I have a whole bunch of names waiting to be used. I have designs for some already, some, just a name waiting for a design. I decided to do the 100-spacer project and am actually learning lots and lot about each color of glass as I go. It's fun!

  3. Hi ya,it's really neat to see a blog and hear from a beadmaker (the names are indeed fun)...I always drool over my small assortment of beads and often roll them about in my hand enjoying their beauty and often wondered how something so small and lovely and perfect could be's very cool that you make a thing that artists so rely on and enjoy:D Happy Creating and thanks for taking time to comment on my blog, I soooo appreciate that:D p.s. Hi from our Jinny and Hazel as well:D they said their homecoming was full of new sweet treats so it was good day for them, ha ha. Be Well, Mandy.

  4. Making up names is one of my favorite tasks. I've had one person I know ask me why I name my works. She said,"I just don't get it.", implication being,"Naming inanimate artworks is kinda weird." Weird is good, I say.

  5. I agree - weird is good.

    It's probably confusing to her because she buys all of the mass-produced stuff. She's removed from the creation process. I think the naming process...the name of the piece and the story behind the the charm of handmade products. It gives you insight into what the artist was thinking as they were creating and let's you be "part" of the piece of art. I think all handmade objects should be named.

    But, that's my creative self speaking. I remember my practical self...practical self would probably have been a bit confused by that. I do inherit my practical side from my dad - but my dad is even interested and likes my work and creative process. So, I think hope is not lost on that type of person...they just need some "edumacation." :-)

  6. WOW...what a fun to read~fun to learn about~fun to pun~posting!!! Jenn, your BeadBerries are really fact, they're so yummy I could just eat em!!!

  7. I am scathingly practical. But naming things is a basic human desire, if you think about it.

  8. Nancy - thanks for the comment! Yes, my beads "speak to me" as I create them. This was a fun post to write...especially the "punny part."

    MoonKatty - you may be scathingly practical, but you have a deep-seated artistry that sits comfortably together. That amazes me. My practical side and artistic side still have fights with each other.