Barbara Birbeck

Barbara BirbeckOur new Featured artist is the one and only Barbara Birbeck. Since it is Barb who usually writes the featured artist articles, and is on our board, I thought it would be fun if I wrote hers for her. So please bear with me in my writing style, I am not used to doing this. I have never appreciated what she does more until now, so thank you Barb for everything you do in making us look and sound so good.Barbara has been lampworking for 6 years now. It is funny because she really didn’t have any interest in making beads when her journey started. She rarely wears jewelry but does collect vintage and contemporary glass art marbles with her husband.Barbara Birbeck After buying a marble off of Ebay she wondered how they were made and scoured the internet to find out. She kept coming up with references about making glass beads and found a book, “Making Glass Beads” by Cindy Jenkins. So off to Barnes and Noble she went to find the book. To her delight she got the very last copy! She was so intrigued and inspired by all the beautiful beads in the book that she bought a complete hot head set up.Barbara spent her first year making beads on her own. The very first class she took was making boro marbles with Josh Mazet. Since then she has taken classes with Leah Fairbanks, Larry Scott, Michael Barley and Brad Pearson. When Barbara first started making beads she was most inspired by the intricacy of the dot work by Larry Scott and Kristina Logan. Today many are inspired by Barbara’s work so it has come full circle.

104 is the glass of choice for Barbara and she has a Nortel Minor + Mid Range on top. She primarily uses the minor and will switch to the mid range for larger piecers. Her favorite thing to make is sculptural beads and I am sure you will agree that he shells are to die for. A couple of techniques she would like to learn are Murrini and complex latticino so keep an eye on these two techniques sneaking into her future designs.

Barbara BirbeckWhen I asked he if she still had her first beads she ever made the answer was yes. She actually gets to see them every day because they are embedded into the joints of her patio tile! Talk about a time capsule.

She also gets to make her beads in the comfort of her own home with air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. For those of us who may work in our garages you know how lucky she is. She mostly makes beads on the weekends and on any days off she has from her day job. At the present time she doesn’t teach classes but you just never know about the future.

Barbara BirbeckShe has begun to make marbles more regularly lately and they are much more challenging than beads. Since marbles have to be round and are worked on a punty she wants to make sure they stay off the floor. Catching them rolling around would not be very much fun.

One of Barbara’s most proud moments is having one of her hollow seashells beads accepted into the ISGB’s Perspectives exhibit last year. It was initially only to be exhibited during the GAS conference last year but the ISGB turned it into a year long traveling exhibit. She recently got even more good news that the exhibit has been extended and will be traveling to JAPAN! She also this past year got one of her hollow shells published in The Flow Magazine, Women in Glass, this past year. To get into that edition is not that easy and it is a juried process. She felt honored to be accepted. I am sure that won’t be the last time we hear of Barbara getting published with the kind of talent she has. We are all so proud of her!!

Barbar BirbeckHer final words to those learning to make beads for the first time is to have patience andpractice, practice, practice. Put no limitations on what you can do. This medium can be manipulated in so many ways when molten so do what you want, there are no rules set in stone. Experiment and above all, HAVE FUN.