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Artist profile: Liliana Cirstea Glenn

Artist: Liliana Glenn
Business name: LilianaBead
Location: Natick, MA

Websites & Blog:

How do you describe your work, Liliana?

My business name LilianaBead reflects my dedication to expressing my aesthetic ideals in glass. Each bead is a result of my journey alongside glass and fire. My commitment to the process, the medium and the design underlies everything I make.

My Heart

Color and form dominate my collections. The finished pieces continually remind me how much I love color. Color in glass is particularly rich because of its interaction with light; the possibilities of layering are limitless. The eternity of glass is partially determined by its roundness, as it shapes how you encounter the colors. Light envelops the glass piece; it has depth, dimension, and movement; it is truly “round color” (a concept evident in the curves, prisms, and layers in my designs).

What is your creative process like?
I started working with glass in 2000 in a workshop with Caitlin Hyde. Slowly, I got to know glass while perfecting techniques shown by Caitlin as well as those revealed in the Lampwork ABC book by Cindy Jenkins, Making Glass Beads. I developed a rigorous schedule. I lampworked 6 hours each day for many months on a map/hot head set-up. This was my self-imposed boot camp, after which I was ready to begin refining my own style.

The next few years I practiced and practiced, working on several techniques which started coming together in curious-to-me ways. Interesting combinations and possibilities came in dreams, conversations, observation and interests, including fine art and crafts. The aesthetic preferences of my customers played a role in how I presented and assembled my work as well.

Apple Cores

These days I stay faithful to my style simply because it appeals to me the most. Nevertheless, I often stretch my designs and challenge my style by doing custom orders, by participating in concept-driven projects (e.g., recently I’ve been playing with metaphors of “doors” and “windows”) and by letting myself play at the torch.

Themes can move me but most often my process is triggered by an emotion or feeling that results from images, relationships and moments of serendipity. While I’m grounded in knowledge of and skill behind a technique, to some extent my work – especially my vessels – also emerges from improvisation and happenstance. Books of ancient and modern arts containing beautiful imagery and visual chronology represented by development of design are important resources for me.

Some of my products are in ongoing collections and some (like vessels) are one of a kind. Currently I have several collections which include Galaxies, Aurora Borealis, The Apple Core, and The Berry Extraordinaire. The Berry Extraordinaire Collection consists of four designs I’ve developed over time: the Berry, the Berry with Seeds, the Berry Flower and the Berry Blossom.

On average I work every day :-) , like most people. The voice of National Public Radio is my most desirable companion. About 5pm the programs start over again so I either turn to WERS – The Emerson College Radio Station, or an audiobook on my MP3.

Reef Jewel

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I was an artist-in-residence at the Worcester Center for Crafts when they asked me to teach two lampworking classes. The thrill (and the anxiety) of sharing my knowledge and skill with people as excited and sometimes more excited than me felt wonderful. At the time I was also teaching public speaking courses at Emerson College and Suffolk University. Seeing my students nurture and push their love for glass and the lampworking process had a lot to do with me dropping my public speaking engagements to stick with glass completely and more relentlessly than before.

Selling my work in galleries and shows, the delightful one-on-one relationships with my customers, in addition to my enjoyment of the process, all provided a clear affirmative answer – I wanted to do this full-time and every day.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
Glass and metal, fire and oxygen, good health and brain matter :-)

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
Process. Process. Process.

Work gets frustrating more often than I care to admit. Unfortunately, it happens when I have deadlines. Before, I would push to try to complete the task at hand. Now I often go back to basics and allow myself to be a beginner so that I can get back in touch with the material and the process.

Playing at the torch sometimes results in what I call carbohydrates; These are pieces that are so big that the wearer is guaranteed to stay on the ground on a very very windy day. I will keep working on a piece till I absolutely have to stop because I need to use the restroom and can’t hold it anymore :-)

A source of relief for me is designing and making jewelry. I spend as much time designing with wire as I do with glass. Most of the connections have to be cold so I devote much time engineering and creating them. This process can be quite entertaining, especially when I succeed.

I like taking breaks and looking through books and magazines.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Sense of humor and perseverance are two important traits one should acknowledge and practice at all cost.

It is very easy to doubt and question one’s work and process. I’ve certainly done my share of that and still do. I’ve learned over the years to
1. acknowledge the artisans before me by learning the history and the techniques behind their work.
2. understand the reasons why I’m attracted to the medium and why I chose that medium for expression.
3. find my voice and articulate it in ways that are intelligible to me. I should be able to recognize that voice over and over again by accentuating primary factors that drive my expressions.

Arabian Nights

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
My entire family, including my parents, my sister and her two boys, has moved in with us over the last three years from Moldova. Attending to family needs and working harder than ever to increase income have been taking most of my time.

Whatever time left :-) I like to spend traveling with my husband Phil. I like to read. I love to walk. Once in a while I enjoy a noisy and fun party where there is lots of laughter and great food. Speaking of food.…

What are some of your other favorite things?
If I could have a thousand hobbies I would. Every time I see something beautiful I want to make my own version of it.

My favorite food is Moldovan potato stew. I also love food made with curries.

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