PUBLISHED: 12:52 PM on Wednesday, July 5, 2006
Heed the need to bead

  Courtesy photo Each bead is one of a kind taking from 15 minutes to over an hour.
Fascination with a substance that goes from molten to rigid while never really being considered a solid, fires the passion of Tasha Walen and Lincoln Farabee of Basement Studios, Juneau Artist Gallery's featured artists of July.

"Glass is always moving," Tasha said. "The colors are intense and vivid."

Like the medium these newlyweds have chosen, Tasha and Lincoln are always moving. Expanding their gallery space. Working full time jobs. Enhancing their studio with jet-like ventilation. Completing Lincoln's nursing program. Learning Italian. Preparing to study glass overseas. And that's in addition to celebrating their first full year with the Juneau Artists Gallery.

"I love the wild variety of color and texture that I have at my fingertips," Lincoln said. "I never appreciated how fire can be responsible for such beautiful pieces of art."

  Courtesy photo Husband and wife team Tasha Walen and Lincoln Farabee of Basement Studios will feature their custom beads at the Juneau Artist Gallery through the month of July.
The beads created at Basement Studios are considered lampwork, or torchwork, beads. The term "lampworking" has been around for thousands of years since beads were originally made using oil lamps to melt the glass.

"I love to watch people looking at our beads, exploring the patterns and designs. Even more I love to answer their questions on how a certain color was made or what really is in the glass."

Tasha and Lincoln start each bead by placing a glass rod in the flame of their oxygen/propane torch. They heat the glass into a molten ball and apply this to the stainless steal mandrel rod used to form the center, or hole of the bead. From this point, they add different colors, shapes and textures. They also like to experiment with adding silver foils, metal rods, enamels, etching and glass frits to create chemical reactions.

"Often we work with the glass without a mandrel. This is more of a sculpting technique," Tasha said.

"This can be very challenging and rewarding."

Tasha and Lincoln also create twisted cane and murrine to apply to the beads. Twisted cane is a process of combining glass to create spiraled rods of glass. Murrine are formed by layering different colors of glass to create a pattern or image. The murrine rod is cut into slices so that the surface you see is the cross section of the design.

  Courtesy photo Lincoln Farabee applies heat to glass to make beads.
Each bead is one of a kind taking anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour. It all depends on the techniques used, layering of glass, size and amount of glass.

A wide assortment of glass is used including Italian, German and Australian soda-lime glass.

Lincoln has started working with borosilicate glass, which is similar to Pyrex glass.

It's considered a harder glass so it moves slower and works better for sculpting and marble making.

All of their beads are annealed in a kiln to assure a stronger more durable bead. After the beads are cooled and cleaned, Tasha and Lincoln incorporate them into jewelry creations such as earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and pins. They use sterling silver ear wires, chains and clasps to accent the uniqueness of each bead.

"When people realize that we make the actual beads in our studio they become intrigued and seem to realize that we are making more than an arrangement of beads," Lincoln said. "We are making the actual beads."

  Courtesy photo The beads created at Basement Studios are considered lampwork, or torchwork, beads.
Their fascination with glass has started taking them to many far way lands. On their honeymoon last year, Tasha and Lincoln took the train to different European towns known for glass making. They visited several of the towns where their glass rods are actually made. This summer they are retuning to Murano, Italy, a small island off of Venice, to study with a local Venetian glass artist.

"We will be there for several weeks and are really looking forward to being submerged in the learning and experimenting process," Tasha said.

Tasha and Lincoln are exploring more fusing and slumping techniques for future pieces, which can be used with the torchwork pieces to create intricate designs for flat glass works and wall art. Basement Studios will also have a table at the Christmas in July Show the weekend of July 8-9.