This month I’m very excited to share an interview with fellow Iowa artist, Alaine Geeding. I met Alaine a few years ago and I first saw her work at the Snake Alley art Fair. Her glass jewelry is truly unique and I have been enchanted with it ever since.
I’d like to start with learning more about you Alaine. Could you tell me a bit about yourself.
I am from Mt Pleasant, Iowa and am 29 years old. I graduated from DePauw University with a degree in Vocal Performance with an emphasis on classical music and opera. Music has been a lifelong passion of mine. My voice is most suited to Classical music, but I love the old standards. My favorite singer of that time is Sarah Vaughn.
Jewelry has always held its own fascination for me as well! I love handcrafted, artisanal jewelry. My interest in making it started about 4 years ago when my Mother, who is a high school art teacher, introduced me to fused glass. I was enthralled! We made all the women in our family pendants for Christmas that year. I loved it so much, I continue to experiment with it. Eventually I had made so much that the obvious next step was to sell my work. That is when I came up with the name, Glimmer Glass Studio, because I just loved how the light played on the transformed pieces of glass when they came out of the kiln, all smooth and shiny! The name also has classical music connotations, as there is a GlimmerGlass opera festival. As my glass work began to evolve, I wanted to make it even more special and began to explore wire wrapping to create the pendants, instead of store-bought, metal bezels. I watched a few videos on youtube to learn the basics, and took off from there!
I love your jewelry designs! What are some of your hopes for Glimmer Glass
I hope to get better and better! The more I know about glass fusing, wire wrapping, resin casting, etc. the more I realize there is more to learn and explore! For example, right now I am very into wire weaving, a type of wire wrapping, and the different techniques used to make different weave patterns that I then use to encase my fused glass pieces, my hand-cast resin cabochons or semi-precious stones.
That sounds fantastic! You’re my first local artist I’ve interviewed. Which I’m excited about. Where in Iowa are you located? And do you think Iowa in particular has influenced your designs?
I am thrilled to be your first! Southeast Iowa is home to some wonderful and very gifted artists. I am proud to be from here! I live in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa at present. Mt.Pleasant is a lovely, small town that has a strong tradition of supporting the arts. I don’t know that Iowa has influenced my jewelry designs, per se, but I can tell you for certain that growing up in Mt. Pleasant had an impact on my life and my love for the arts. I had wonderful teachers in both music and the visual arts in every school I attended. I was also heavily involved in Community Theatre. I think being surrounded by creativity and a supportive community growing up is the reason I feel the need express myself and create as I do today. It shaped who I am how I live my life!
One of my other passions is photography, and living in Iowa has influenced that. Most all of my photography that is not of subjects in my backyard, is of the sights and scenery of Southeast Iowa. One of my absolute favorite things to do is hop in the car, drive around the countryside and take pictures of my incredibly beautiful state! I love the adventure and spontaneity of it. You don’t know what awaits you down the next road, around the next curve, or over the approaching bridge.... It may be a gorgeous sunset, an awe-inspiring vista, or it may be a cow quietly munching on its dinner- either way, I want a picture of it! :)
I always love learning about where fellow artists get their ideas. What are some things that inspire you?
Well, I would be lying if I didn’t include Pinterest! I think Pinterest has become a pretty ubiquitous source of ideas and inspirations for those who create. I must have thousands of jewelry pins! I usually see something I like, try it, and then tweak it to suit my personal style.
For me, Failure is The Great Inspirer. Some of my greatest growth has come from terrible failure! When I fail at a new technique, medium or style, I usually experience a brief moment of disappointment followed by intense problem solving. It’s like my brain just won’t turn down the dial! I run through the steps of what I could have done differently over and over in my head until “Ding!” inspiration strikes and I come up with a solution. One instance of this is when I was first learning to wire wrap. I watched a couple of tutorials on youtube on the basic “cage-wrap” style. I tried it a couple of times, and let me tell you, the results were pitiful! The wire was all wonky from overworking and it was scratched with tool marks. I went to bed that night just fuming! As I lay in bed, my defeat fresh, and unable to sleep, I went through the newly learned steps over and over. I remembered the touch of wire in my hands, the tensile feel of its bending; the muscle memory of what pressure it took to hold it with my tools, but not mar or scratch it. What had I done wrong? Could it learn to hone my skill? The next day I tried again, and I remember how pleased I was at my improvement! I remember thinking, “Wow! I would pay for something like this!” That was good feeling. :)
I couldn’t agree more. I think deep down all successful artists are problem solvers. And experimenting with materials is just so satisfying when you have that ‘a ha!’ moment. What type of materials do you use in your jewelry? Do you have favorites?
I use quite a few different materials to make my jewelry. For my glass pendants I mostly use
90 COE colored glass, enamel powder, mica powder, 22k gold accents and glass frit/stringers. I love to experiment with all of the above and how they react to each other on the glass and with the each other in the heat of the kiln.
I also hand cast resin cabochons to wire wrap. For those I use a two-part epoxy resin. Some of my bestselling pendants are my Steampunk Inspirations. I use a lot of gears, clock pieces, and antique findings in those. Steampunk as a genre is very broad and encompasses a large group of sub genres/styles that range from the rococo, to sci-fi to Post-Apocalyptic grunge. My inspiration draws from the more Victorian, gilded-age aspects of the genre. I use a lot of glitter, gold, and shiny stuff to accent my gear and clock-part resin inclusions!
And, as you know, I also use quite a bit of wire! For my Steampunk Inspirations I use a lot of antiqued-brass/brown and gold-plated wire. For other pieces, such as my Trees of Life, I use a lot of copper, gold and silver wire, depending on the type of stones I use. I use many different gauges (sizes) of wire- mainly from 26g to 16g. For a good end result, you must use the right wire! Learning what wire is right for each piece has been a learning process for me. But it makes a huge difference when it is done correctly!
Do you start a piece with the end in mind, or let it develop? Tell me a little about your process.
It depends on the medium. Glass, as I have said, is a highly unpredictable medium. But, I enjoy the uncertainty of it. I love to experiment with the different components and can honestly say that I have never made two pendants that look alike!
Resin by nature has its own inconsistencies, but I usually have a good idea of what I want my
finished product to look like. I have had some total disasters when I have neglected to measure the two-part mix correctly or the resin has gotten old and not set as it should. But those come with the territory and are easy enough to avoid.
Wire is the least capricious of my practiced mediums, bless it! I almost always know how my piece will turn out , if it is one I am used to making, and am happy with finished product. My Trees of Life, for example, do not vary much from piece to piece. They do differ in slight ways, such as configuration of roots and branches and the number of wires used to form the trees. There is a lot of “Zen” involved in working with wire. Wrapping, weaving, bending...It is a slow, meticulous process that involves a lot of intuition. I let the wire “speak to me”, so to speak! ;)
I love your trees of life! Now I always have to ask, do you have a favourite fairy tale?
This may just be the hardest question of all! Oh my....hmmm… I have always loved Beauty and the Beast. There is a wonderful version of it, written by Robin McKinley, titled “Rose Daughter”. It was one of my favorite books growing up. There is a strong theme of self-reliance and compassion in the story. You sure can learn a lot from fairy tales!
I am a fan of all things magical, whimsical and mystical!
Is there anything else you'd like to mention or give a shout-out to?
All I can say is, “Think Global, Shop Local!” Thanks to Etsy and the like there seems to be an uprising in the popularity of artisanal and handcrafted goods. People around the globe are living their dreams and trying to make a living off of them now more than ever. The arts and the people that practice them are so, so, so, so important!!!! But they can’t succeed if they aren’t supported. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, as most of the people who are reading your blog already understand this. But I even have to remind myself of this! Too often I find myself on Amazon, shopping for something “on the cheap” when I could purchase an even better version of the item at the next art fair!
Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak about my work, Autumn. I am a huge fan of your work. Your style is all your own and a joy to behold!
Thanks so much Alaine! I really loved hearing about your process.
To see more of Alaine’s work visit her facebook page Glimmer Glass Studio.