Meet Dolly Libby – Heartsong Memory Beads
Written by: Karen Fox
The So Cal Flame Surfers are pleased to welcome Dolly Libby into our club. In a very short time, we have already learned that she is an innovative, compassionate, and a consummate professional beadmaker. Her first day with us, she volunteered to become our Vendor Liaison, and on her first day on the job, she immediately brought her warmth and creative artistry into the presentation of our door prizes.
Dolly was born into a big family and raised in Washington State. She met her future husband, Bill, in Seattle in 1981, when he moved to the area to work in the aerospace industry. They married in 1985 and were blessed with 3 children, Derek, Dylan, and daughter Savannah. Dolly worked as a Montessori teacher and then opened her own school when Savannah was born.
In 1997, Dolly closed her Montessori school so the family could move to San Diego for her husband’s new job. What was supposed to be a one year sabbatical for Dolly, turned into a life altering choice. It all started when she set up a studio in her garage because she took up stained glass. Fused glass followed and then…Dolly watched a lampworking demo…and was hooked!
From 2003-2004, Dolly studied in Heather Trimlett’s beginning and intermediate flameworking classes at Blue Dolphin Glass in San Diego. She still gets in a few classes with Heather, because Heather is an amazing artist, teacher, and mentor. Dolly reports that, “Heather is brilliant and is a stickler for details!” That attention to detail has greatly helped Dolly hone her flameworking skills to create truly stunning and professional beadwork. Dolly also greatly admires glass artists Kim Fields, Dolly Ahles, and Kim Miles.
Ten years ago, Dolly opened Heartsong Memory Beads. The company began as an outgrowth of the tragedy of losing her son Dylan. She made her first memory bead for herself, infusing the glass with some of Dylan’s ashes. At the time, she didn’t know if the glass would be compatible with the ashes, or if it would break as soon as it came out of the annealer. The first bead was a little rough, but she put it on a chain around her neck and was amazed at the sense of peace she felt wearing it. She was surprised how many times a day she would touch it, and feel an amazing closeness to her son whom she dearly loved and missed beyond words. Dolly’s work in creating beautiful beads with the cremains of a person’s loved one, can bring comfort to the person going through the grieving process. Before making each bead, Dolly says a prayer for the deceased, handling the cremains with compassion and dignity. Dolly makes jewelry out of her beads, so that her clients can wear their beads as soon as they receive them.
We were lucky to have Dolly give us a Demo at our June 13, 2015 meeting on the Ocean Waves bead pictured in this article. She taught us techniques for: applying pre-fired dichroic glass, how to create the imagery of water and waves using transparent glass, tones of layered color, a two tone glass for the waves, a poke and twist technique using a twisty cane, and how to top it all off with a 3mm clear CZ. She gave us clear directions all the way. Dolly is a natural teacher, and though she is no longer a Montessori teacher, there is no question that their loss, is our gain.
Dolly is a full time professional beadmaker with a very unusual and special mission. Her positive energy and sensitivity are immediately evident when you meet her, and her beads reflect the love she puts into them.
Dolly and her company, Heartsong Memory Beads, were featured in The Flow Magazine, Fall 2011, “Art with a Purpose” issue. You can also learn more about Dolly and her work, on her website, heartsongmemorybeads.com