About the Artist

Leslie at Touchstone

I find the process of beadmaking is almost meditative. I enjoy the solitary nature of working on a torch, and the endless mutability and experimentation allowed by the glass medium. I enjoy the personal size and detail of flameworked glass, and the challenge of making wearable, yet exciting pieces.

Being a glass beadmaker means that you are always making components of a larger piece. Sometimes the pieces are designed as part of an imagined whole, and sometimes the finished product is totally inspired by one bead. Often, your works are sold individually to other jewelry makers who use your inspiration to create wholly new and unexpected objects, lending their interpretation to your art. I find a richness in beadmaking, creating objects that can stand alone, but usually do not, creating a chain of creativity that only ends when the wearer of the piece makes their own creative choices of adornment.

poppies-crop

I have two directions I have been exploring in my flameworking. The first applies sculptural techniques in borosilicate glass to a bead form. Some aspects of borosilicate glass color are best developed with sculptural forms, and I have been experimenting with wearable glass sculpture. Secondly, I have begun to focus on the design of the whole necklace first, rather than letting the design of a particular bead drive the process. My most recent designs draw on my deep horticultural interest, and I have been exploring abstract flower forms. Some have compared my glass jewelry to tiny, wearable ‘Chihuly’ sculptures.

I find that the physical act of glass beadmaking stretches me: each time I feel that I reach a technical or artistic impasse, the ‘making’ process frees me up and moves me forward. Inspirational teachers and beadmaking colleagues provide essential challenges and support.

kaplan_leslie_2

Education and Experience

In an integrated life, all experience and knowledge combine to flower in new and unexpected ways. I hold degrees in History and City Planning, but have forsaken those disciplines for the art forms flameworking, glass beadmaking, (and garden design). I became interested in beadmaking when I began to string beads to make jewelry. I reveled in the intricate colors and patterns of art lampwork beads and began to learn to create my own. In 2000 I took a weeklong workshop at Touchstone Center for Crafts, and was completely hooked

I have studied with Mike Mangiafico, Stevi Belle, Kate Fowle Meleney, Barbara Becker Simon, Tim Drier, and Doug Remschneider among others. I am a full member of the Pittsburgh Craftsmen’s Guild, and the president of the Three Rivers Glass Beadmakers, a chapter of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers (ISGB). I earned the Glass Alchemy Teachers Certification.

My work has been selected for all five ‘Glass Birthday Suit’ exhibits at the Pittsburgh Glass Center and the 2008 juried show, ‘Steel and Glass’. My work has also been exhibited at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in the 2005 ISGB juried jewelry show ‘Rivers of Glass’, and the jewelry show of the ISGB in the Sherry Leedy Gallery in Kansas City in 2006. My work has also been shown in a June 2007 exhibit of glass jewelry the Touchstone Center for Crafts, and in a October 2007 Three Rivers Glass Beadmakers exhibit at the Laurel Arts Center in Somerset PA.  In 2009, my work was chosen for the ‘Innovations in Glass Beads’ exhibit  in Corning, New York.    My necklace ‘Harvest’  was juried into the ‘Convergence’ exhibit and was shown at the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee, WI, the Ohio Glass Museum in Lancaster OH, and the Windisch Hunt Fine Arts Gallery in Coconut Grove, FL.   ‘Harvest’ was also featured in the Bead and Button publication ‘Jewelry Designs with Art Glass Beads’ which was published in October 2009.