Introduction: Cathy Lybarger

Save for a few years when I worked in a restaurant and a grocery store, I’ve always been a self employed artist. I never consciously made a decision to become an artist I just grew up in an environment that was very conducive to creativity so art was what I knew. My mom is an artist as well so in our house art supplies and encouragement were readily available.

I first started working with glass in 1988 when my mom showed me how to make stained glass windows. I switched over to making stained glass jewelry boxes in 1991 when I started street vending since boxes were easier to transport and sell than windows. Thanks to fused dichroic glass jewelry, I was able to make enough money to get off the street and open a store in 1995. I picked up the bead thing in 2000 mostly just to try another medium. I really latched onto it a year or two later when I found ebay and saw what other artists were doing with glass.

For me, bead making is technically challenging in a way that stained glass and fusing are not. It keeps my brain busy. I like that. When I see things out in the world I think about what Moretti color they are and what kind of cane I have to make to get that effect. Never before have I worked so long (for a living) in just one medium. I also like the immediacy of torch results and the fact that beads are tiny and easy to send in the mail.

Bead making is my job. It’s a great job, but it’s still a job. I work on beads, listing, blogs and what have you for at least eight hours a day and then I go home to my house which is about two blocks from my studio. I don’t have any children but I do have a lot of friends who, as am I, are in a state of arrested development. These are the people I refer to as the Lost School of Madison. More often than not there are people over at our house participating in some kind of recreational art activity be it music, drawing, writing, tile painting etc.

Basically, my husband Don and I have a party house but it’s a really productive party house. So far we’ve painted 150-200 4×4” tiles for use on the trim areas of our house. Some of the other work that we do together becomes designs for t-shirts and such in my Café Press store. My bead names come directly from my friends as well.

So between recreational art and work art I am working on something art related almost all the time. It’s a good mix for me though I regret not being able to work and live in the same place. The two arts seem very separate to me and I’d like to bring them together. One day the studio will move home but I don’t know when that’s going to be.

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3 Responses to “Introduction: Cathy Lybarger”

  1. Sheila Morley Says:

    I love your sculptural beads. The characters are great, and each one of a kind. I read your article in the bead release about etching. You gave me some guts! Nice article.

  2. jean Says:

    I love your beads too, and this interview is very interesting. I like what you said about the house and the studio.

  3. cathylybarger Says:

    Thanks Sheila! The Bead Release editor (Cathy Finegan…I think) helped out a lot with that article. She put in all the safety stuff and made me look like a really conscientious bead etcher. I got to write the fun part.


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