Intimidated by Flowers

jc herrell lampwork flower beadMy body of work does not include many floral beads.

A while back I made some sets with some super simple flowers but that’s been about all I’ve ever been inspired to create up until very recently. Its not that I don’t like floral beads. Actually, I like them quite a bit. I like really fancy and intricate ones like the beads Kristen Fantzen Orr or Kim Fields create. I’ve always admired how well these two artists bring forth the delicate beauty of a floral scene. And I think glass is a natural fit for expressing the floral form in beads, marbles and sculpture… obviously many artists feel it is a natural fit since flowers and glass seem hand in hand as a tradition in glass art.

And while I appreciate and value traditions, I’m not often one to participate in keeping them alive. I’m a tradition lurker, watching but not really playing.

So I was very surprised when, one day, while I was drawing a white grid on a long tube, the voice in the back of my head said, “flowers are next.”


jc herrell asian floral glass bead

But the idea was persistent and so I made some very, very simple flowers grow on the bead. The next day when I retrieved the bead from the kiln I was amazed how much I liked it! I loved the graphic background against the flowers! They seem so right together.

jc herrell glass floral focal bead
I was inspired to make, believe it or not, more florals. OK… you may believe it but I had a hard time because making flowers is straight out uncomfortable for me. I’m not sure why. Probably because the florals I love are just so intricate and involve so much prep work and, most of all, because I don’t think I can meet my own standards for what makes a floral bead outstanding. Or maybe it would be more honest to say I’m intimidated by flowers. I’m not sure…But even though I was uncomfortable I made a large handful of florals that next day.

I switched back to dark silver plum grids (seeking some comfort, I suppose) and started to think about what these simple flowers wanted to do. I concluded that they wanted to feel more tropical, more surf-girl. So I started to think about what kind of flowers I might want on my imaginary surf board. And on one bead, the surfiest of them all in my opinion, I left the graph background out entirely. I was starting to feel more comfortable with these beads and, as a result, the last bead of the day was really crazy. It wasn’t tropical. It had leaves and dots and was busy with activity and soft, gentle colors. This bead caused me great discomfort. It was so close to being really, really pretty but instead of displaying the intricate, detailed beauty of the floral form it seemed too simple and basic. That last floral bead frustrates me to no end. It’s so pretty, but it totally lacks realism. That bead almost frustrates me into learning how to make realistic florals. Almost.

The group of floral beads sat on my desk for a couple days, staring at me. I didn’t do anything with them. I didn’t even show them to my husband, I was almost embarrassed. These beads made me feel like the tomboy at school who was forced to wear a dress for picture day. Covered in awkward dressings that make me feel totally exposed. Exposed as a wanna-be floral bead maker, perhaps? It actually took a little courage but I put a few for auction and sold the rest to a private buyer. I am very grateful that they are not here staring at me anymore. I don’t like being stared at.

JC Herrell is a glass artist who blogs from her home studio in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. See more from JC at or


4 Responses to “Intimidated by Flowers”

  1. Ellen Says:

    Frustration + discomfort = courage. Keep going, chica; I believe you’re onto something.

  2. Wiley Says:

    I have always loved your style…enamels and fantastic stringer detail. Adding the floral element…stunning beads!

    from another tomboy lampworker 😉

  3. jcherrell Says:

    Thanks, Wiley & Ellen!! The support is nice. Clearly I’m not very comfortable with the florals but the positive response my inspire more play…

    Pura vida!

  4. Sheila Morley Says:

    What a great story…and I LOVE these beads!
    Dichotomous floral!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: