Shelley McLaughlin

Meet Shelley McLaughlin
Written by: Karen Fox
January 2015

Shelley was born and raised in San Diego, and started making jewelry when she was about 15, at a store called Jewel Art, in the Claremont Square shopping center. Shelley graduated from Claremont Senior High in 1978, the year before the screen writer for Fast Times at Ridge Mont High posed as a student and got his material for the movie!  She got her BA degree in Psychology from UCSB in 1983, and her teaching credential from CSU San Bernardino in 1985.
Shelley has been an elementary school teacher since 1986, and has spent the last 14 years as a Kindergarten teacher and loves it!

Shelley is married and has two sons, Zach, 20 and Gavin, 18. Her mom lives with them in a little house in the Menifee/Sun City area, and they also have a cabin in Idyllwild, where her main soft glass studio is.  She also has the beginnings of a boro studio in the Menifee garage.

Shelley got into lampworking about 9 years ago, through a mother of one of her Kindergarten students. She helped Shelley get set up, gave her some pointers, and helped her melt-on her very first bead.  From then on, Shelley was hooked, and is still going strong.

Shelley didn’t take any classes for her first 5 years at the torch. Her first class was with the wonderfully talented Leah Fairbanks. In the past few years, Heather Trimlett has been instrumental in helping Shelley refine the basics, that she initially missed during her first 5 years of self-teaching. 

Shelley has taken classes with JC Herrell, Judy Carlson, Nancy Tobey, Rashan Jones, and Karen Leonardo, just to name a few!  Shelley states, “The most influential teacher I have ever had is Susan Hood, who also happens to be a dear friend. She helped me to really find my voice in glass bead making.  Susan also introduced me to copper mesh and gave me the skills to pursue a new and different way to use it in my beads.” The results have been amazing.

Through a series of experiments with the copper mesh, Shelley changed her  perspective in using this material, and found a unique way of using copper mesh that has turned heads in the bead making world. 

On the ISGB website, one of Shelley’s copper mesh beads can be seen across the top header.  She was also juried into The Gathering in Seattle, and in the pendant show in The Gathering in Houston. A very exciting outcome of Shelley’s distinctive and magnificent bead creations, has been her inclusion in the Lark book, 1000 Beads, Kristina Logan, Juror. This is where you and the whole world can see her Hot Lava bead, shown on page 193.

As far as the creative process, Shelley recommends persistence, practice and never getting complacent.  She’s always trying to find a way to evolve her beautiful beads to the next level.

She also suggests that you do everything to stay out of the drama, because it seems to happen whenever talented, artistic and strong women mix!!  Be true to yourself, and don’t let the prevailing winds of opinion sway you if you have a dream!!