September 12, 2012

In the Round with Kris Schaible: Finding Your Style

An earlier interview with Jen Cushman focused on the “art-to-market” spectrum where a passion grows from a hobby to becoming a published expert. Along that path are life steps that I felt needed some more exploration, such as the balance of raising a family while defining your style as an artist.
Kris Schaible

I’ve known Kris Schaible for some time and have watched her art and abode grow. Her journey started when she first purchased a flameworked art bead—as some of us do (a common attribute being the love of fire) she ordered some glass rods, a torch and mostly taught herself to fire things up and make her own beads.

That was eight years ago, and three children later Kris owns and manages Noodlesaurus Glass Studio where she works and trains others. She’s also the Mid-Atlantic regional director for the International Society of Glass Bead Makers.

CS: Kris, we’ve know each other from our Penn Dragons days. As an artist, how did creating glass beads become your primary passion and focus?

KS: Growing up I was exposed to numerous art mediums--paint, paper, fabric. I learned to sew on my grandmother’s tredle Singer and to crochet when I was six. I made quilts, did needle point, strung seed bead bracelets and painted canvas, but glass--WOW!!!---what a captivating medium. The ability to take a solid and convert it into a semi-liquid, alter its shape and color then allow it to cool back to a solid. The rich gem tone color palette is one of the biggest things that drew me into glass as well as the ability to layer it to get cast shadows and create depth. Melting glass seems to have centered my creativity as I design mini works of art inside of each bead. I love to create beads that appear to glow from within or have layers that shadow each other and create a new color.

CS: You took over the part of your home that for most would house their car and turned it into a studio. How did that come together?

KS: My husband and children are the center of my world, so it just seemed natural to have the studio here as well. Being a creative spirit, I have to create every day. Having converted half of our garage into my studio allows me to work and to make beads but still have my family close to me. We have chosen to home school our children, so my schedule varies with my husband’s work schedule. Having the studio here at the house and being able to go out there when he gets home or when the kids are out playing gives me a lot of flexibility.

There is the safety factor as well. The kiln runs at a temperature of around 970 degrees, glass fractures and ends up on the floor and my torch mixes oxygen and propane. So it’s a place to tuck everything away.

Glass Beads
Kris Schaible’s signature round beads

CS: How did your signature style evolve and in retrospect, what’s worked best towards supporting the direction you’re heading in today?

KS: My goal when it comes to my style: If you found my bead on the floor at a show, you would know it was mine. So I spent a lot of time, years actually, developing my style of bead. I tried this and that, and really in hindsight was forcing a style to develop. I would say the first five years of my bead making was this way. It worked because I was able to support a wonderful organization called Beads of Courage, an art-in-medicine program for children battling serious illness. Beadmakers donate handmade beads that recognize and celebrate the courage and milestones of treatment.

Starting in late 2009, I had the opportunity to take part in Bead Fest. I shared a booth with someone at this very large event and mingled with other beadmakers who’s work I admired. They gave me this advise: “Relax, it will happen one day.” Sure enough it did. I started making round beads, honestly it was an accident as I was working on an oval bead but somehow couldn’t get the shape quite right so decided to make it round. I was in love, and I now make all of my beads perfectly round with 5-9 layers of glass in them. The shape allows me to layer and create depth in a bead. This year, in my own booth at the same show, a returning customer stopped in and said, “I saw a lady at another booth buying components to create a necklace and she had your beads, I just knew it by looking at them.”

More Glass Beads by Kris

CS: That’s a great complement, and having watched your style over the years, I still “see” you in your artwork. What’s driving you now, where will Kris be by 2015?

KS: As my style has developed, I’ve become more comfortable with my work and the quality of it. I’m doing more shows, last year two, this year eleven. Next year I’m hoping to travel out of state to do shows and visit others studios around the country to teach my style to others. As I evolve as an artist, I’d like to publish my work.

Knowing Kris and watching her talent grow, she’ll be around and heating things up for a long time.

** Photographs of Kris Schaible and Glass Beads are the exclusive intellectual property of Kris Schaible and are being reproduced for this article with her explicit written consent.

September 7, 2012

Photos, collage and such...

I've been stuck on how to add some old photos that I don't want to cut up into a collage painting.  Being ever so lazy, don't want to run out to Staples to get laser color photo copies, but if you've ever tried to gloss a piece of ink jet printed paper, you know it gets messy quick. 

This morning I found a blog by Piddix that gives great ideas, check it out~

September 5, 2012

Good Times

I got a feelin ♫...

Some people who look at my work ask me how my mind works.  It's a strange, anxious world in there.  I'm not a fine artist, I'm an arter, someone who can make something from something else.  So is my Dad, as was his Mom.  

"Momoo" had a sewing studio that was my Sunday work space.  She taught me straight lines, a clean back (because people WILL look on the flip side) and inspired do-it-yourself creativity.  "Popoo" had a metal shop that I'd run to after breaking sewing needles.  I was routing steel and drilling wood by the time I was 12, demanding to be one of the first girls in Jr. High to take shop instead of home ec.  

Grammie's kitchen was different.  It was chaos on any given Saturday, with a quilt being sewn at the table while she was baking up a storm--cabinets doors ajar and flour all about.  I thrived in that multi-tasking wonderland.

CacoPop brings it all home with his pickings.  Driftwood becomes a display case.  A potbelly stove--a lamp.  That corroded bench in the back room boiler room at Bethlehem Steel is now at my kitchen table.  And no metal is ever scrap.

Mom creates order and does all things perfectly perfect--always has, and that's how everything gels.  And I'm fortunate to have an amazingly supportive DH, amused children and Ferris as a brother.

Good things are happening :) ...

September 3, 2012

The Arte of Metal: A Conversation with Beth Botak of Kabela Design

Many beading magazines grace the racks in stores, and when you look closely, you’ll likely spy at least one arte metal creation from Kabela Design.

Beth Botak
Kabela (named after their two first grandchildren, Katie and Isabella) specializes in US manufactured jewelry components made from original filigree, Art Deco and Art Nouveau stampings in raw brass, copper and fine silver coating. Using dye plates dating back as far as 1904, these works of art in their right offer designers the opportunity to create vintage style jewelry with a contemporary twist.

CS: Kabela has become a well-branded name in the arte metal jewelry space. Tell me about how you and your family got your business plan into action?

BB: I was an activities director for a nursing home for 25 years. It was an amazing opportunity to educate others, but I knew I had to do something different. My daughter Kelly made flameworked pendants and we walked into A Queen Bead in Media, PA to sell some of her wares. The shop needed help, and I ended up working there. Then I started doing bead shows. I always felt there was a force behind me gently pushing. I needed to offer something that no one else had.

That niche item? Displays. Velveteen busts—not readily available at the time and she sold them to other jewelers at shows. It was high margin business. Vintage lucite was the rage

BB: I loved the Deco-Nouveau look and colorations so I investigated making my own jewelry component products in the US. I got online to look for manufacturers but found a very closed book. After months of searching, there it was: My line of perfect components, made here in the US. I contacted them and ordered 12 trays to start. That was 4 years ago.

Beth and her husband Tom grew the business together after his job in railroad logistics changed. Now with their daughter Kelly and co-worker Gina, this selling team does 48 bead shows a year around the country, as well as keep up with their full time website. (If you see Bethy at a show, mention you read this blog and expect a big hug and a gift.)

CS: You’re in many publications and I see you advertise in so many places…how do you target where to place ads and measure success?

BB: When you do 48 shows a year your name gets out there. We’re in practically every issue of Bead Design (formerly Bead Unique). Also Bead Style and several others. I’ve met so many writers and publishers. Debbie Simon is using our components in her new Interweave book. I am a firm believer in advertising. I think it’s important when you have a business to get to know everyone. Tom and I travel all over the country, we have made so many friends in advertising and feel incredibly fortunate to be part of some very big bead companies such as Artbeads and Fusion Beads to name a few.

metal work
Innovative Bead Expo is a favorite show for Kabela. I met Beth there as I glanced at a finding in her display and paused to consider how I might mount my fused glass cabochons in her components. Not only did she spend a great amount of quality time training me to think differently about how to set my handmade cabs, she and Tom offered unique ideas. I’ve seen similar components on the market, but was hooked by Kabela as I could visualize my final design.
CaraSmiths fused glass cabochon wrapped in Kabela filigree

CS: How do you differentiate yourself from your competition?

BB: We’re a small family business and that allows us to be much more personal with our customers. We hand sign every invoice and add personalized gifts based on what they ordered and what we think they might like. A large percentage of our line comes from a fourth generation US-based family business and we have our components treated with the highest quality, nickel free plating available. We do not try to cut costs or corners and we believe it shows in our pieces.

I love people. In Sante Fe there was a group in our booth as I explained our wholesale policy. A woman handed me her card which said she was world renowned sculptor Estella Loretto. The next day we went touring, and at the Basilica saw her Indian version of the Madonna. My cell rang and it was Estella, inviting us to see her studio in the mountains. Her whole yard is full of sculptures, and she wanted to trade with ME for a piece of my art. Not only has Kabela been a wonderful business for us, but it has also allowed us to meet so many amazing people. I feel blessed.

** Photographs of Beth Botak and art pieces are the exclusive intellectual property of Beth Botak; and are being reproduced for this article with her explicit written consent.
Exciting things brewing...