Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Diva of the Month, March 2011 - Kathleen Robinson Young - 10 Things Glass

Hi again, and welcome to Part 2 of our interview with Kathleen Robinson Young, our March Diva of the Month. This portion of the interview is about "ten things glass" - let's get started with the questions!

Part 2 - Ten Things Glass
1. Attraction to Glass - We asked Kathleen what first drew her to glass. "You know it wasn't the colors or the sparkle, it was more I wanted to figure out how to put something inside of it," she tells us. "When I saw Barbara Becker Simon's necklace, I wanted to figure out how to do it. Don't misunderstand me, it was really pretty necklace! But I wanted to put my metal clay inside of it. Except you know the old song "The Hunter Gets' Captured by the Game"? That was me.... Once I started working in glass and saw the endless possibilities I was "captured"! There still so much to figure out..."

2. Training in Other Artistic Areas - Kathleen tells us she doesn't have an art background, describing herself as "pretty art illiterate". Her last corporate position was Director of Marketing for the largest HMO in Michigan, her Master's degree is in Instructional Technology. "I was on the opposite end of the art continuum," she says. "But I've always loved art! I can't draw a straight line but I've always had a strong sense of color, and an eye for design. I had a friend in 5th grade who was a spectacular artist and could draw the most beautiful horses. I actually paid her $5 a week to teach me how to draw. I still only make stick figures, but I guess I do have some training after all :)"

3. First Beads - We asked Kathleen to describe her first beads. "My first beads were horrible!" she exclaims. "When I took my first class at the University of Michigan, I wouldn't claim my beads when they came out of the kiln. I was so embarrassed. At the end of the class I would discreetly pick them up and go home." The light bulb went on after taking a class with Sharon Peters. "I took her class because I wanted to make fish. Let me be honest, I was actually obsessive about making fish!" says Kathleen. "She was really patient with me and my first ever fish was pretty decent...I've kept it as a reminder that for me, that classes are about acquiring the technique, not making a bead perfect or pretty in my first attempts. I'm not embarrassed these days, I can laugh at my first attempts. The elusive light bulb still goes on, sometimes waaaaay after the class :)"

4. Inspiration - What inspires Kathleen? "Color and florals in anything," she says. "I'm notorious for buying things just to try and create a design or a floral combination in a bead. I can remember being in Borders bookstore one afternoon and while waiting in line a saw a beautiful bag in rich jewel-tone flowers. I couldn't wait to get home to try and create those same colors in glass." Kathleen has stacks of greeting cards and pictures that she collects just for the colors or symmetry of the flowers. "My garden is also helpful. My florals tend to reflect the colors blooming from Spring to Fall." Kathleen says she struggles in winter because "Michigan is void of any color. I spend a lot of time in bookstores looking at colors in the various art books and going through my "card collection" to keep inspired."

5. Ideas and Planning - What about planning and implementing ideas? "Generally the only plan I have is to work with certain colors or types of glass," says Kathleen. "Whenever I try and plan to do something it never works out. My attention span is pretty short so things change pretty quickly with me. I usually "warm up" by making a fish. It gives me a basis for what kind of day I'm going to have. I still can't draw so sketching is out of the question. I do use botanical books to help me visualize a "layout" for my florals. The beads usually take on a life of their own, and that's ok. The books are just there as a guide, to give me ideas."

6. Photography - Photography tends to be a key element for any glass artist, and particularly those who represent themselves online. We asked Kathleen about her photography setup. "I have a pretty simple setup," she says. She uses an Olympus C7000 Camedia camera. "It's taken me some time to figure out the best settings. I don't use any special lighting other than a table in front of a window to get natural light."

7. Money - We asked Kathleen how finances affect her style. What would she make if money, or the question of whether or not it would sell, were a non-issue? "I'd still be making florals," she says. "They're relaxing for me. I don't get frustrated even when they come out looking like "'doo". If finances were of no consequence I'd spend more time experimenting. Between bead shows and art fairs I pretty much stick with the 'tried and true". I do try every time I sit down to torch to try something new...I would love to be able to just take time off and experiment for a period of time, to get better acquainted with some of the newer glass."

8. Personal Style - What kind of jewelry does Kathleen wear? Casual vs out on the town? "Mostly my glass and metal work," she tells us. "I put a little bit of crystal in most of my stuff so it pretty much can handle everyday and special occasions."

9. Skills - One skill Kathleen wishes came easier to her? "The whole online self promotion thing!" she exclaims. "I'm horrible at it. It feels like boasting and that makes me uncomfortable. Friends tell me it's easy for them because they feel it's kinda anonymous, for me I feel extremely vulnerable, totally exposed. I'm fine selling at art fairs and bead shows. I love the ability to talk one-on-one, but the internet is just something that I haven't conquered yet."

10. Marketing - We asked Kathleen what she loves about marketing her business. "I thrive on the interaction with the customer," she says. "I love the expressions on my customers face when they find something in my bead trays that excites them or a piece of jewelry that completes an outfit. I enjoy explaining the process of making beads to folks who visit my booth." The hardest part? "Easy....Online promotion!"

I will leave you all with Kathleen's links, and see you next week :)

Ugly Duckling Beads on Etsy ~ Ugly Duckling Blog ~ Ugly Duckling Beads on Twitter

1 comment:

  1. Great reading more about you Kathleen. I love the face beads that you make. Also, that bracelet with the purple rounds is amazing!