Helen's Harvest Lampwork

Helen Simon 2004

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What an adventure these last four years online have been! I bought a computer with my annual Craft Show earnings from selling Herbal Wreaths and Soap, so I could print my soap labels. I had no idea that this Internet business is like living in a very current library, and always open!

I backslid into my old quilting habit, inspired by the lovely artquilts I saw on various websites. I had made several painted quilts in the 80's, after failing to remove acrylic paint from my clothes, reckoning it permanent, for a local gallery...and they sold rather well. This was before liquid acrylic, and I thinned the tube paint with water. Quilting these paintings added texture, and combined my love of painting and sewing into one medium. Asking my husband what flowers he'd like me to grow for live models for us to paint (he's an artist, too), resulted in the inevitable, "roses."

Yikes, I had to start with the hard one, eh? No problem. Off to the library. I was home schooling my first son then, and we'd have library parties, carrying out as many books as we could hold, often taking two trips. So I studied Roses, and Herbs for variety, and grew them. Along the way I occasionally painted them, but the very essence of them dried intrigued and inspired me to create with them. So wreaths were my medium for several years...and everything herbal including fine soaps. I'd work all year harvesting, (my elder son's name is Harvest) drying, storing, crafting for an annual craft fair, and God blessed the work of my hands, until one year I got a hankering for a computer.

I had a new baby son now, as the older bird was ready to fly the nest, and in my mid 40's! My mid-life crisis resulted in making quilts for International Quilt Festival competition for a couple of years, which I'd learned about in an online discussion mail group Quiltart. Then I made an embellished quilt for a show called "Encrustations" and BEADS entered my life.

I made beads for that quilt from Polyclay, because I didn't know how to make glass ones. I'd read a book from the library "Making Glass Beads", by Cindy Jenkins, but decided I would never be able to afford the studio required. I saw Lampwork Beads on eBay that were selling for small fortunes, so became determined to do this. After selling soap, wreaths, fresh flowers and homemade bread (pre-Atkins) at my local farmer's market, at last I began to furnish my studio. A church friend gave me a Hot Head beginner's torch kit, and I was making and selling beads a couple weeks later. It's been the happiest time of my life, this bead making business being the most fulfilling medium I've ever tried. It combines color, texture and sculpture in a unique and shiny way, but I still long to make artquilts and wearables again, only this time they'll be quite elaborately embellished with any baubles or beads my little heart imagines and desires.

I sell my artglass on eBay under the sellername "helensharvest", which I've kept from my Wreath-making days. Now the flowers are Glass, destined to become collectible heirlooms and are a recorded diary of the seasons of my Louisiana garden, many from the live models my dear husband suggested I plant. How wise he is!

Helen's Harvest

Fantasy Pansy

Editor's Note: The beads pictured are a representative selection of the artist's work. Please check Helen's Harvest to see those available for sale.

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