This is our second installment of my interview with Patrice Shepherd. I'm really getting to know "all things Patrice" - How about you?
What attracted you to glass?
"I have always loved glass beads, since the earliest knotted old strands of beads in an old tattered plastic bag handed down from my mom's friends :) Seed beads held my passion for over ten years, but I had to give up bead weaving when I developed tendonitis. Glass has always been an alluring material, especially when we saw all the gorgeous glass flowers made around the turn of the century. It's amazing what humans have done with glass over the years!"
Many glass artists have training in other art mediums. Do you? If yes, please explain.
"No training, I'm actually not the "artistic one" in my family. I've always been the analytical techie-girl, so glass is a challenging fun hobby that allows me to do something totally different from my job and regular life. There is so much you can express in glass, and I think it's my first "artistic medium."
Describe the first bead you made that you were really proud of? Are you still proud of it now?
"I had a few beads at each "level" of progress, but there is one standout turtle as my style was changing from round to shaped shells. I was totally proud of this turtle three years into the journey... I didn't get to keep it though, as all my best are offered for sale. My newer pieces are fancier, but we must appreciate our progress each step of the way, especially when it's been a six-year journey so far. :) "
What inspires you?
"Nature is my inspiration. I love plants and animals, particularly wildlife in its natural habitat. Our world is filled with inspiring flowers, plants, trees, insects, mammals, landscapes, just everything around us outside (inside too if you're lucky!) can be inspirational. If you look at my glass work, you'll see loads of animals, flowers, insects; nature-inspired glass is my passion and our habitat is my inspiration. "
Do you have a plan when you sit down to torch? Do you sketch beads or have photos around for reference?
"About half the time I go to the studio, I have something particular I need to make. I'm very methodical in my approach to new designs, using multiple sketchbooks and searching for animal photos online and in my books until I have the idea "just right." I also use a list on my smartphone or a piece of paper to remind me what I should be making to add to my different plant and animal series collections. Starting without a plan can be overwhelming at times, as there are too many things you CAN make, however, starting without a plan can also be very fun. Personally I like to plan my direction most of the time, as you need to know where you are in order to get where you want to be. :) "
Photography seems to be a key element for any glass artist. What type of camera / lightbox set up do you use?
"I use a photo tent with natural-type light bulbs and a tripod for my camera. It took a while to get the setup to where I like it, as photographing glass is hard! Lots of trial-and-error, and editing the photos while trying to keep the colors true-to-life is difficult."
If the issue of finances (i.e. will it sell?) were of no consequence, what would you spend your time making?
"I would like to make more animals of all different kinds, larger sculptural work and more vessels. I love detailed work, and if selling it weren't so difficult, I'd probably make intricate pieces and collections all day long! "
What kind of jewelry do you wear? Everyday vs. out on the town?
"I wear my own pieces, usually one pendant most days, on a handmade leather cord or a chain. I don't wear much jewelry, but it's easy to wear something you've made, because it can be uniquely you. Plus my husband makes glass pieces too, so he has made several pieces for me, which make them extra special to wear. '
What is the one skill you wish came easier to you?
"I wish that larger sculpture came easier. Working with borosilicate, which requires a much hotter flame, it takes a long time for a large piece of glass to melt, and it must all stay warm while you are working with it to avoid cracking. This is difficult, besides the muscle it takes to hold a large piece in front of you for several hours! I'm getting better, but like everything else in life, it takes lots of practice'
What do you love about marketing your business? What’s the hardest part of marketing it?
"Marketing is difficult, as I don't like being "sold to" in my own life. I respect people's boundaries, and don't like to do very much marketing, but a little is good because I make very unique pieces. The excitement exhibited by a customer when they find something that "speaks to them" is such a wonderful thing to see and hear, so I guess that's my favorite part. When you have something so special and different like our handmade-with-love glass art (our Fire Divas group has tons of talent!), marketing is easier because glass art speaks to people on such a deep art-loving level. ' "
Thank You Patrice for another great interview and some helpful glass hints that will assist all of us artists!