For us, beads have become work and play, relaxation and accomplishment, passion and obsession. When we started lampwork, it seemed to us part of a natural progression: Initially, the history of beads was our fascination; before long we had entered into the business of beads, opening our own store in northern California. Now, in discovering lampworking, we're learning the science, chemistry and art behind an ancient beadmaking tradition.
Glass beadmaking -and lampworking in particular- is undergoing an amazing renaissance in America today. Both the established artists and newly emerging talent in the beadmaking community are awe-inspiring and growing daily! Being self-taught lampworkers, we both see our primary inspirations coming from each other's work, from this community of glass bead artists as a whole, and of course – and most importantly – from the glass itself. As a medium, glass is both forgiving and stubborn, allowing almost anything under the right conditions, and nothing under the wrong ones. We use very few tools or complex techniques; with flame, gravity and a little coaxing, the glass flows naturally into the shapes and textures of our beads. As we practice our skills behind the torch, the glass constantly teaches us new aspects of itself. You need only to look at the stunning diversity among bead-makers' styles to understand the distinct ways in which the glass teaches each of us.
The continuity between the new art glass movement and the antique lampwork we've loved and collected – it's irresistible to us. Together as "Heart Bead", we are both simply honored to be counted among the ranks of this fiery and evolving new movement of artists.
Kim Wertz and Greg Galardy, working together as Heart Bead, have been doing lampwork since mid-1996 at their mountaintop studio in rural Northern California.