Hello from Julie, of Uglibeads!

Before I join in the regular rotation here on the Art Bead Scene blog, I’ve been asked to introduce myself! So… here’s a big hello!

I’ve been an avid reader of the Art Bead Scene blog for quite some time now. I always look forward to seeing the new posts. I have to tell you though, my very favorite thing is the Monthly Challenge.
I’m a glass beadmaker, and I’m always looking for new inspiration to use in my work. Last month, I was mesmerized by the beautiful, bright colors and leaf motifs in the challenge painting. I took a break from a big project I was working on, and had a play day. Every once in a while, you REALLY need one! I was so excited when I pulled these big hollow beads out of the kiln the next day! Hollow beads are one of my favorite things to make, and they’re magical to hold, because they are so surprisingly light for their size.

Since I had all those *gorgeous* colors out on my worktable, I awarded myself another play day (when you’re the boss, you can do that!), and carried on with a series of funky disk-shaped bead pairs. I love the combination of the bright colors and the bumpy, imperfect organic shapes!

I’ve been making glass beads since 2001, and it is now my full-time job. But of course, it’s my passion too. I think about beads… way too much. Glass beads are a double whammy: of course I’ve had a nearly lifelong obsession with beads, but as a material, I also find glass endlessly fascinating. Strength and fragility… transparence and opacity… cool reflection and fiery, molten movement. It’s such cool (hot) stuff.
Aside from making as many beads as I can (despite the ridiculous heat that the summer weather brings… ladies who work with torches and kilns, raise your hands…), and spending time with my amazing husband, I have been working on a very personal side project. This weekend, I’ll be attending my first local arts market, where I’ll be selling….. jewelry. That’s a big, scary, new adventure for me! (Any wise advice for calming the pre-show jitters? Let’s hear it!)
Usually, I make the beads, and that’s where my contribution ends. I leave the designing magic to my very, very talented customers. But about 8 months ago, I began making a series of small lampwork pendants. Something about them really captured my attention. 
I couldn’t resist keeping one and wearing it myself, gradually picking out beads and stones and other materials I could wear with it, investigating its amuletic properties. Since then I’ve done a lot of exploring. Through my research and reading about amulets, charms, and talismans, I’ve become totally fascinated (read: obsessed) by the history and lore of objects that people all over the world have worn for personal protection or good fortune.
For a long time I’ve been experimenting, struggling to discover my ‘thing’ when it comes to jewelry. Beads, I can do. But jewelry… is a challenge. If you’re in the beginning stages of a new creative journey, like me, you might identify with that. Maybe you’re a jewelry maker who wants to learn to make your own components – or a weaver who wants to learn how to paint! We all run into that feeling of not quite knowing where to begin. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the amazing work out there. It can be very intimidating!

After thinking about it a lot, I realized that I do know a few things about beginning. I mean, there was a moment when I sat down at a torch, with no clue, and made my first bead, right? No matter what it is you’re learning, whatever medium or form of expression you want to explore, you have to start somewhere. And starting with something that has personal meaning to you, that makes your heart happy when you make it or wear it… that’s the way to go.

And that is exactly how I feel with my amulets. I feel like I’m onto something BIG. Something that goes really deep and connects to who I am, right at the very core. And that’s where the creative magic happens, you know?

Will they get better over time? Of course they will! It’s just the beginning. But we have to celebrate the first steps too. They’re important, and they’re special.

Here’s one of the first amulet necklaces I made; designed to bring me inspiration and good creative energy. I’ve been wearing this one almost daily. I think it’s working!
That’s one of my mini pendants (right), an etched lampwork ring in the middle (I made that too), some gorgeous African beads, and a bit of hammered and wrapped copper wire.
I look forward to sharing more with you in future posts, but for today, I’ll leave you with another amulet necklace. Some of my own beads, a large recycled glass bead from Africa, river  // beach rocks, and bone. This one, for strength and courage:
Ok, and one more bead photo! Because I am after all, still a beadmaker at heart 😉
If you’d like to read more about my process, my inspirations, and how I became a beadmaker in the first place, Janine Lucas of Esfera Jewelry interviewed me >> here << a while back. She did a really fantastic job. I invite you to take a look!
Before I go, I’d like to say what a pleasure it is to join the group of talented artists who make Art Bead Scene what it is. Each and every one of them does amazing, inspiring work, and I’m honored and humbled to be part of such a great team!
f a c e b o o k : www.facebook.com/uglibeads
i n s t a g r a m : @jules_sontag

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21 Comment

  1. Katherine Thompson
    July 21, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Beautiful beautiful! I can't wait to see more from you!

  2. Dawn of LaTouchables
    July 21, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Reading this post about you, Julie, just made my heart beat faster because your passion and your work's magic is absolutely tangible. I hope I can grab a few of your beads tonight before they're all gone 🙂

  3. Firefly Design Studio
    July 21, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Fantastic post, Julie! You will do great at your show with your new jewelry line. I love how each design has meaning!

  4. Saraccino
    July 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    You know much I love your work! I am also excited to see where your next step may take you and your jewelery already speaks to me 🙂

    You know my opinion about the market. There is no reason to be nervous! And if everything goes wrong, you still have the people addicted to your work: Us!

  5. uglibeads
    July 21, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you so much, Michelle! Though I'm nervous about the show, I'm REALLY excited too! Mostly, I'm just looking forward to getting out of the studio to talk to some real, live people 😉 xo — Julie

  6. Claire Lockwood
    July 21, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Welcome – again! – Julie! I love these amulet pendants – they've got so much individual character. And you could have so much fun working on different variations. Lovely stuff!

  7. TesoriTrovati
    July 21, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    You have an amazing eye for composition, Miss Julie. I know that I would gladly wear one of your amulet necklaces! I hope you make more of those little nuggets of love soon so I can pick some up! They really speak to my esthetic, too! I have always wanted to make glass beads but I lack the set up for such a thing. So I leave it to the experts! Love the colors you use and the organic flow. So happy to have you here with us at the Art Bead Scene! Enjoy the day! Erin

  8. Astra
    July 21, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Julie, you've taken off, and now you're flying. I even can't express how delightful is to watch it – my heart sings along, and thank you for this song, it's like a gifted feather for my (and not only my, everybody's) wings to take off, too. May you have a good wind under your wings!

  9. Meridy Migchelbrink
    July 21, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Oh, Julie, what a wonderful post to start your time here on the Art Bead Scene blog! The photos…what beauty! I love that you're starting to make jewelry, and I know SO well that feeling of newness and the unknown: It's fear in equal measure to exhilaration! 🙂 But, honestly, I don't think you have a thing in the world to worry about. It's clear from these amulet necklaces that your eye is good and your heart able to touch into the magic that makes what we do resonate. Love, love, LOVE!

  10. Rickie
    July 21, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Lovely, colorful beads. All the best with your jewelry venture—I'm sure you will be successful in everything you do! 🙂

  11. Janet Bocciardi
    July 21, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    Oh I just knew your jewelry was going to be thoughtful, meaningful, cool, and beautiful! Truly! I love amulets. After all I think jewelry is so very personal and tells a story of our past or where we are at the moment. Reminds us of what's important, who's important…

    You're going to do great at your show. My best advice is to stay you and stay positive. No matter if others are complaining about the day – you ignore and create your own atmosphere of good things happening at your table.

  12. Karin G
    July 21, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    I love your work, your beads are so full of colors and stories to tell. I'm totally looking forward to see how your amulets will grow even if I already find them fascinating and of course follow your adventures on Art Bead Scene .

  13. Mary Harding
    July 21, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Wonderful post Julie!! I am excited to learn that you are making jewelry. Love your beads and I like your beads strung with the amulets. Look forward to wearing one of those beads with the copper loops. They are just perfect!!

  14. beadlove
    July 22, 2015 at 1:18 am

    Julie, I am so happy to see you here! I love ABS, and you are a welcome addition to all the talented people I love hearing from. I am excited for you as you expand your journey into jewelry. I think you will do well! I love the lampwork pendants I got from you. Not to get too woo-woo, but I really feel the good vibes emanating from them when I wear them. I LOVE your amulet necklaces. They are really gorgeous. Have a wonderful time at the market and see you here again!

  15. PyxeeStyx
    July 22, 2015 at 1:29 am

    Fantastic first post! Can't wait to read more. I do hope you'll do a post on the history of amulets and share your research with us at some point. Good luck with your first art show! My advice, be yourself, and everyone will love you! #uglifan

  16. Kristen
    July 22, 2015 at 10:38 am

    I love the amulet beads, just amazing! I cam connect with your post because now that I've retired, I'd like to do some craft shows and return to actively making finished jewelry. Let us know how your show goes.

  17. uglibeads
    July 22, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    Gosh, thank you all for your gentle, kind, and loving words! What a nice welcome. Your encouragement is deeply appreciated, and I look forward to sharing the adventure with you all. Hugs — Julie

  18. Terri
    July 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Hi Julie, I've been following Esters Jewelry interviews…and I have admired your bead work for some time! Welcome to the Art Bead scene looking forward to what the future brings. Hoping it will be a wonderful chapter for you.

  19. Eileen The Artful Crafter
    July 24, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Welcome, Julie. I look forward to seeing more of your work. But why – pray tell – is the brand named Uglibeads?!

  20. Cherie Burbach
    July 27, 2015 at 2:46 am

    Beautiful beads!

  21. uglibeads
    July 27, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Thanks so much again for the thoughtful words, everyone!

    @ Eileen, 'Uglibeads' is about learning. At the beginning, every beadmaker makes some very, very ugly beads. I sure did!! And that's the way it should be. Even after many years of making beads (or jewelry!), it's good to challenge yourself to try something new, and you go through that process all over again. The ugly beads are so important in creative evolution. So… it's a reminder. Keep learning and don't be afraid to start somewhere 🙂 xo — Julie

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