leaf necklace

Is it a Chihuly or a Lyn Foley?

by Lyn Foley on October 26, 2008

The Bayou City Show was a great success for us – beautiful weather, relatively easy set up, wonderful customers (and lots of them). As a bonus we drove down a day early and enjoyed a nice visit with some very dear friends of ours.

But once again, for the umpteenth time, gad zillions of people came into my booth, looked at  my jewelry and said, “That necklace reminds of of what’s his name, you know the guy with the BIG flowers on the ceiling in the (name the place). Oh, you know, Chihuly”

Now, what can I say to this comment? Is it nice to be compared to Chihuly? Am I trying to copy Chihuly? Do I want to be like Chihuly? – Well, yes and no,  – no really.

In case you don’t know , Dale Chihuly is a well known American glass blower. Learn more about him by following this link: http://www.chihuly.com/. In spite of having made glass beads for five years now, I had never heard of him until  two years ago when a customer made one of the above comments. I got home from that show and looked Dale up on the Internet. WOW, I almost fell off my chair when I saw the pictures of his work. What fabulous  blown glass! I would love to see some of it in person, but haven’t  had the pleasure  yet (it’s on my list). And so, yes, if I were as masterful with glass as Chihuly (or all the people who actually seem to make his work these days), then yes again, I would be very proud.

Just looking at pictures of his work has bumped my skill level up. I look at a picture of a vase, or one of his large floats, and wonder “How did he do that?” So off I go to the torch to experiment. Trying to figure out how those blowers who work with him created  certain effects that I like has pushed my designs further.

But then again, no, I’m not copying Chihuly. First of all, lampworking, though similar, is really not like glassblowing. We do use glass, but mine is wound, not blown. I make every bead myself – Chihuly has teams of people who do his work. He even says that members of the team take his drawings and make their own adjustments according to where the glass takes them.

Also, I make  art so that it can be worn. The challenges in designing flower or organic beads that are unusual,yet beautiful, strong, and easy to wear, are many. My designs always have these requirements in mind: Can it be worn comfortably, and will it last? If glass is only going to be looked at, not used, its an entirely different proposition. So, yes, I’m inspired, but, no, not copying Chihuly.

So here’s a little (embarrassing) photo essay of the evolution of my sculptural flower and leaf beads, starting from the first ones  I made five years ago to the present.

You decide – I say its a “Lyn Foley”.











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