Hello, my name is Tracy Jerrell Akhtar and I’ve been a lampwork artist since May of 2005. I’ve been drawing or painting since I could fingerpaint, thanks to my mother. She’s an artist also and has taught ceramics, pottery, macrame and stained glass over the years. So I always had the supplies and tools needed.
Pen and ink was my first love and I actually used to sit and draw with a nib dipped in a bottle of ink (I was so happy when I received my first set of Rapidograph pens). I’ve always been a detail person, I loved to draw as small and detailed as possible and this comes through in my glass today.
I was recently married in Peshawar, Pakistan in February of 2007. Crazy? Maybe. Running off to a developing country, to a town right next to the Afghanistan border … alone, to marry my soulmate Javed. Sounds kinda crazy and reckless. But when I have a goal and know what I want, I’m very determined and like that Nike commercial “just do it”. That’s the key, don’t think too much…. just go ahead and do it before you can talk yourself out of it. Life’s too short to not take chances.
I jumped in and started my own business. It’s called “Hey Where’d You Get That?!” but I use TracyBeads for my website, much easier to type and remember. I actually came up with my business name before I knew lampwork existed. I wanted my own business someday so had the name already picked out along with my trademark.
I was born in Jackson, MI and lived there all my life until 1999. I moved to Phoenix, AZ on the spur of the moment. Ohhh I love Arizona! I’ve never seen such a beautiful state and it’s really influenced my art. I moved back to Jackson in 2004 but Arizona and the desert are still in my soul.
I’m known for my geisha but I also created some kachina beads early in my glass journey. I love cave art, petroglyphs, mythology, other cultures, the exotic and mysterious. I love to make people and dolls, especially women from other countries.
I learn by doing. Practice. I read books, online tutorials and I think many other lampwork artists learn this way. My mother had taken a lampwork bead class a few years before I moved back to Jackson, but I had no interest at the time. Then in the Spring of 2005 I needed a break from college and all the studying and asked her to show me how to work the torch. So she showed me how to light the torch, melt the glass and wrap it around the mandrel. I wanted to jump right to the good stuff. But I practiced making some rounds first, getting those puckered ends, learned to control the heat enough not to have glass droop off the mandrel and went right to making sculptural beads.
I hadn’t planned on doing this for a career. I wanted to be a dental hygienist and do lampwork on the side. But fate stepped in. My high school neglected to send my ACT scores along with my transcript (oops they hadn’t noticed a 2nd page) …and the college I applied to neglected to inform me until they sent my rejection letter stating that was the reason I wasn’t considered for their dental hygiene program. What?! I was devastated. But I took it as a sign that working with glass and being an artist was what I was meant to do. I had always wanted to be an artist (and a writer) since I was a child so here was my chance. And gee, I’m working with dental tools after all. 😉
Taking part in this blog is my way of giving back. It will also help me learn to be more open and try new things. Maybe if others can see how my mind works when it comes to glass, the process I go through including mistakes, they’ll be able expand their own creative process and quiet that critical, nagging voice that finds flaws in every piece.
The statement “We’re our own worst critics” is very true and can create too much self-doubt and stifle our success. I learn from most of my mistakes and some of them lead to new bead styles.
So now that you know a little about me, my background and motivation, you can understand what fuels the fire and drives my art.
Want to see more? Check out my website TracyBeads