Lampworking is something I’ve always wanted to do, and its been on ‘the list’ since 1992. For some reason I get the feeling I may never get around to it LOL.
No reason to feel sad about it though, when there are amazingly talented artists like Kim Miles around to make the beads I would want to make! Look at that stitched heart one on the top middle-SWOON!!!! Kimâ€™s work has been featured in Lapidary Journal, Bead & Button Magazine,Â Beadwork Magazine, Step By Step Beads, the Flow, American Style,Â the ISGB Obsession Catalog, Cindy Jenkin’s Beads Of Glass, 1000 Glass Beads,Â Corina Tettinger’s Spotlight on Hollow Beads and Vessels, and Trajectories: An Exhibition Exploring Contemporary Glass Beadmaking, sponsored by the ISGB and the Bead Museum.Â She was awarded first place in the glass bead category, and tied for best of show in theÂ Lapidary Journal 2006 Bead Arts Awards.
With a resume like this, you KNOW these are some special beads and an amazing artist. I’m soÂ happy & honoredÂ that she agreed to do an interview with us so we could all get to know her and her glasswork better.
Kim Miles: Beadist
How did you start doing jewelry as a business?Â I’d been running a pizza shop in Seattle with my husband for about four years, and was becoming increasingly miserable to live with…Â Pizza is great to eat, but it wasn’t my idea of a Life’s Calling. My husband finally fired me, telling me to find something I’d enjoy. I had no idea what that would be, but soon I discovered lampworking through a friend. A year later I started the baby steps of selling beads at local farmers markets and craft fairs. It’s been growing from there since 1996, and I still love pizza… and my husband!
Every artist has a personal ‘creative process’Â can you explain yours?Â Â When I’m at my best, my process is messy and unplanned. Since we depend on my beads for our family income, I sometimes feel the need to make things I know will sell. Once that’s taken care of, I’ll often start with a basic color palette, but no other real idea of what I want to make. I just put on some music, light the torch, and see what happens from there. The key is to be open to everything from “great work” to “total crap”. It’s all valid in the process.
When people start doing jewelry, they tend to try a lot of different things before settling down to something that resonates with them, tell us howÂ has your jewelry work changed since you began?Â Â I started making beads to make jewelry with, but soon it became clear that the beads were the main focus, and the jewelry was secondary to me. Now I make very few finished pieces, except for myself and for friends. I feel my time is best spent making beads so other designers can create the jewelry with them.Â
Do you remember the first piece of jewelry you ever made?Â HaHa! Yes! I was about 7 years old, and made earrings out of telephone wire and little plastic, linking rings. I was not allowed to have my ears pierced until I was 12… that is so wrong for a girl who needs jewelry!
How many hours a weekÂ do you spendÂ in the creative side of your business vs… the business side?Â My typicalÂ work week is about 70 hours long.Â I’d say I spend about half of it creatively, in the studio, and the other halfÂ taking care of all the “other stuff”.Â Â
What inspires youÂ creatively?Â Lots of things. I avoid looking at too much glass work or other artist’s beadwork. Instead, I look to other art forms, modern culture, personal experiences, and nature for inspiration. I think I find the best inspirations when I’m off guard, not looking for them at all…. like the way cars parked in a garage have an accidentally great color scheme, or someone’s clothes move in a way that suggests a bead design. Food and music are good too – anything that involves more than one of the senses. The word “inspiration” means “to breathe in”. Sometimes that’s enough.
Do you have any big/exciting news or different directions for your business this year?Â I know this will sound odd, and maybe even creepy to some people, but I’ve started making glass Memorial Beads recently, incorporating cremains – cremated ashes of people and pets. Yes, it’s weird! I resisted it for years, even though I had many requests.Â My regular bead business has done well for a long time, and I don’t need to do this for financial reasons. Still…. something is telling me it’s time to offer this strange service, just because I can…. so I am.
Where do you sell at primarily-website, stores, shows, etc? At the moment, all of may sales are on my website. I did shows for years, and have felt happy and fortunate to have the internet as an alternative to traveling to shows. Soon we’ll be moving from New Mexico to Oregon, and I now look forward to doing some shows again. Isolation can be good, but now it’s time to get back out there and meet people face to face.Â
Who are some of your favorite artists and crafters? Painters – My cousin, Mitzi Miles-Kubota, Georgia O’Keefe, Milt Kobayashi, Lisa Burge, Greg Moon. Beads and Jewelry – Jean Yates, Anne Choi, Kate McKinnon, GreenGirl Studios, KB Glassworks…… there are really too many to name them all…
What do you like to do in your spare time?Â I’ve been teaching myself to knit and to play the violin. I also like to write. I don’t cook often, but when I do, I make it an event.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested doing jewelry as a business? First I’d say, “Are you sure???” Taking something you love and turning it into a business can also turn it into a job. It’s a lot of work, and sometimes I think it’s best to keep our joys to ourselves as hobbies. But if you really, really want to do jewelry as a business, be sure you’re very good at what you do, and that you have something unique to offer. Then, be OK with asking for help when you need it, and fearless about trying every idea that comes to you.
Thank you SOOO much Kim for your interview!Â
I personally think that making memorial beads is a WONDERFUL thing. I am very into memorial jewelry and reliquaries myself and plan on doing something with my cats ashes when its her time to pass over (which I hope is not for MANY years to come!).Â I plan on doing a blog post about memorial jewelry in the future here, so if anyone has interesting links, please email them me or post them in the comments section!
If you are lookingÂ for something special for your jewelry project,Â please stop by Kim’s website and get a one of a kind piece of her glass art.
[tags]Kim Miles, lampwork, Glass art beads, jewelrymaking[/tags]
By Barbe Saint John