Beadmaker Interview: Vickie Miller, Hipkitty Beads

After seeing Vickie’s mini lampwork and beaded purses and flip-flops in the Lampwork Etc. gallery I tackled her and convinced her that she just had to give us an interview! Enjoy!

1. What is your personal name, business name, website and location?

My name is Vickie Miller. I am the owner and creator of Hippkitty Beads. I live and work on Camano Island in Washington state. I’m still working on my website but my blog page is:

2. What kind of beads do you make? What kinds of processes do you use? What is your favorite beadmaking technique?

I make lampwork glass beads. I use mostly soft glass imported from Italy called Effetre. About two thirds of the beads I create are simple, colorful, whimsical sets, with lots of different shapes and designs for interest but my personal favorites are bead sets with complex floral designs. I’ve heard this type of bead being referred to as “watercolor florals”. Each bead having many different layers of interest almost like a painting. I use furnace glass frits, (mostly from Val Cox), fine silver foil, and many different hand mixed canes for these designs. Each bead can take up to 30 minutes or more to create. A very time consuming process but I feel this sets me apart from the rest.

3. How did you get into beadmaking? What are some of the important things you do for your business?

I started making jewelry a few years ago and while searching the internet for supplies I came acoss Corina Tettinger’s website. I fell in love with glass art beads. I deciced then that I had
to learn how to create these tiny treasures myself. I read everything I could get my hands on and slowly started buying equipment and supplies. I made my first bead in the summer of 2004. I’ve never taken a class but I’ve watched a few very talented beadmakers in person and I also own a video or two. Lots and lots of research on the internet. So I guess you would say I’m self-taught.

I started selling my bead sets on Ebay after about 6 months and this has been a very successful endeavor for me. I try to have a least one auction up at all times and this is what takes up most of my time. But Ebay is where most of my beadmaking income comes from.

I also sell my finished work at local art shows. About 2 to 3 a year. I love meeting and chatting with my customers in person!

4. What is your workspace like and how do you work in your studio? What is a typical day like?

My beadmaking studio is in my garage which is very comfortable. The space is heated and I have a nice high bench for my torch and kiln. I really haven’t personalized the space too much but I will get around to that sometime in the near future. It could use some more color.

I do have a newly remodeled office/jewelry studio that I really love! It has space, color, computer, TV, shipping center, photo center, jewelry tool and supply organization….. everything at my fingertips.

My day starts with answering emails while having my coffee. I have my 7 year old grandson before and after school so after I fix our breakfast and get him to school I can get to work. I take care of any shipping or ordering of supplies first and then I head to the torch where I spend about 6 to 7 hours creating beads. I pick up my grandson from school in the afternoon and spend an hour or so with him before he goes home. After dinner is when I clean beads, take pictures, write auctions and spend time at the computer.

I treat beadmaking as I would a regular job, meaning I try to stick to a schedule in order to get everything done that I need to in a day. It’s a busy life. I still have a home and husband to care for and lots of friends I like to spend time with so sometimes I wish there were more hours in a day.

5. How do you stay inspired and motivated?

My inspiration comes from many different places. I have been a seamstress since I was a child and I love textiles. Fabric, ribbon, yarn, fibers are all great sources of inspiration for me. When I’m stumped for a new color combination I’ll often go to one of the many bookmarked fabric websites. Fashion and home decorating magazines and websites are also full of design and color ideas.

6. What type of beads and jewelry designs do you feel best compliment your art beads? Do you design your own jewelry too?

Jewelry making was my first love and the beads that I make for myself are made with a particular finished piece in mind. It’s hard to say what type of jewelry most compliments my beads. I have made simple necklaces and bracelets with just a single bead as the focus and I also love to make complex designs with lots of sterling silver components, crystals, and freshwater pearls. The more danglies the better! I also love to make “art pieces”. The elaborate types of jewelry that you might see in a gallery but really not very practical for real life. I just added a big pile of Bali style sterling beads to my supply inventory so the challenge will be in using these highly detailed beads to compliment my designs and not detract from them.

7. What beady plans do you have for the future? Do you have new designs or ideas you will be exploring soon?

I’m in the process of updating my show inventory right now. The things I have left are very recognizable and I want my customers to always have some new things to look at when they
come to see me. Remember when I said I wish there were more hours in a day? I sure could use some right now…….

I would also love to do some teaching in the future. Maybe someone will invite me 🙂

8. If you have a discount code you would like to give our readers, please list it here, including the expiration date:

I sell my beads and jewelry from my blog site from time to time and if you mention the discount code “Kittys discount” in your email to me when requesting a piece you will get a 5% discount on regularly priced items, (not sale or marked down items), throughout the month of April 2007.

Thanks Vickie! Make sure you come back and let us know when your web site is live so we can give you a link here!

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1 Comment

  1. macati
    April 26, 2007 at 7:15 am

    she makes so beautiful things!! some look like candy!

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