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Artist profile: Lea Avroch

Artist: Lea Avroch
Business name: LA Jewelry Designs
Location: Long Island, NY

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Lea, your beads are beautiful! How do you describe your work?
I make handmade wearable glass art and unique jewelry. I started out as a jewelry maker (self taught), mostly stringing and simple wire work and most recently to beadweaving. I’ve always been fascinated with glass. I have a collection of some lovely art glass sculptures in my home so when I saw that a local art league was offering lampwork classes, I quickly signed up. It was a beginner class, which gave me the basics. I since have taken 2 additional classes at Beadfest Philly for working with boro glass. I wish there were more local classes to take advantage of.

I had a very hard time coming up with a business name I liked. LA are my initials. Pretty simple when you think about it. And Jewelry Designs is fairly self explanatory, though I have expanded beyond just jewelry making.

What is your creative process like?
I first decide which COE (coefficient of expansion) glass I want to work in that day. It’s important to keep glass of different COE’s from getting mixed up or the beads will crack. COE is really just a measure of the rate at which a particular type of glass expands when heated. When you have glass expanding at different rates, the beads will crack, which is something you want to avoid at all costs. Imagine spending all that time shaping & decorating a bead only to have it crack….not a good thing.

After that, I sometimes have a particular style bead that I want to work on, but more often that not, I just let the glass “talk to me”. I’m not particularly fond of making sets, preferring to let my creativity flow, creating one of a kind beads. Though, oftentimes when making a particular bead that I like and picturing how nice it would look in a necklace design for instance along with others in the same style, I’ll just get into a zen like mode & fire off dozens of the same bead. This is where having the jewelry making background comes in handy as well.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I took a basic lampwork class at a local art league….and I do mean basic. LOL! But it helped me get over my fear of how to light the torch, taught safety precautions and some basic beadmaking techniques. I knew from the start that I loved working with glass so I saved my pennies & as soon as I was able to, I went out & bought whatever equipment I needed. I joined several lampwork forums & poured over the all the information. I found some great tutorials and just went ahead and played. I find it a fun medium to work with because it’s ever changing & you have no choice but to try new things. Even if a particular session doesn’t turn out well, I still learn a lot, whether it’s how certain colors react together or how to shape my beads better.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
Great question. With lampwork, there are several tools that are required, but I just love my torch. Since working with boro, I upgraded to a “big girl torch” that has an inner ring and an outer ring that’s helpful for larger pieces. And though I don’t often work that large, there have been numerous times when I’ve found myself turning on the outer rings to get that extra boost of heat needed for a design.

What inspires you to create?
I love working with all the different colors of glass available today. I find that for me, the glass itself is what influences my work. There are many new silver infused glass rods that are currently on the market that create beautiful special effects, which I love to experiment with. And then using tools in different ways to get special effects. It’s all fun! :)

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
Knowing that tomorrow is another day. Some torch sessions I can do no wrong & others I can do no right even if I’m trying to duplicate a bead I’ve already made. So, though some days are very frustrating, I simply love seeing the outcome the following day when the kiln has cooled down. Even if the bead doesn’t come out as planned, I may come across a new color reaction that I can use in subsequent beads.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
PPP (practice, practice, practice), which is something I still need to do a LOT more of!

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
I love to read and have recently taken up knitting again. And, of course the internet. ;)

What’s your favorite comfort food?
Chocolate is the hands down winner. I wish I liked dark at least, but I never developed a taste for it. I love milk chocolate with some almonds or caramel or both. YUM!

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