This week we feature Designs by Nanette, entrepreneur, artist, and designer of gorgeous art glass beads and jewelry.
Nan grew up in Wisconsin learning to sew, knit, crochet and do other crafts. She later became a hairstylist; at this point, she has spent 39 years in this field. About 25 years ago, she also started stringing beads and making jewelry for herself. It didn't hurt that she lived in Tucson near one of the world's largest international bead and gem shows! She began to sell her work here and there, and then decided she wanted to take her bead work to the next level. She looked around for classes and ended up at a glass lampworking class. She was immediately hooked! Today, she's been 'at the torch' for 9 years and can't think of anything else she'd rather be doing.
Not too long ago, Nan took a very creative (and smart) approach to making ends meet as an artist/entrepreneur. Along with friend and colleague Pam Ross, she invested in a gallery/salon space called 1202 Artworx. (The address happens to be 1202 E. Broadway in Tucson, so this is apropos.) Since the friends had both been hairstylists for many years, but also artists who needed a place to show and sell their own work, they created the 'two-part' (and very upscale) space -- with a gallery space in the front for their own eclectic mix of glass, fabric art, paintings, beadwork, and more -- and with a hair salon in the back. Their thriving salon business provides the economic foundation and stability for the gallery, in which sales can be good but are not always as steady and predictable. The art side of the business has expanded recently, however, via invitation shows featuring other artists. (If you are lucky enough to live in or near Tucson, don't miss their upcoming gallery show on May 17, featuring some cool urban newcomers!)
The upstairs part of this very cool venue houses Nan's jewelry studio; her glass studio, complete with 2 torches and 3 different sizes of kilns, is at home. The jewelry studio doubles as a storage room as well -- there are boxes and boxes of all her handmade beads and an extensive collecction of store-bought beads.
Nan attributes her success to her many mentors and teachers over the years, but she has a soft spot in her heart for the Sonoran Glass School in Tucson. Now, she teaches others there, having volunteered to share her craft for many years. She loves the staff and members and it has become her home away from home. The school has a torch room, hot shop, warm shop and cold shop, so it has everything a glass worker can dream of. She says it is great fun (though occasionally a little frustrating) teaching others how to work with glass at a torch. And a special treat is when visiting artists come in to share their expertise with everyone.
One of my favorite things about Nan (besides her delightful personality and her great haircuts) is her involvement in -- and passion for -- the Beads of Courage organization. Beads of Courage was started by Jean Baruch, a local oncology nurse. When a child is sick with cancer or another life threatening disease they are given a string with beads on it that spell their name. Each time they have a shot, blood draw, surgery, or any other treatment they get a bead to represent that. The beads end up telling the child's story, their journey through their disease to, hopefully, wellness. Nan has recently been asked to take a child's drawing and make it into a bead. Nan is assigned to a child named Kaily, who drew a very colorful dolphin with a unicorn horn. It took some trial and error, but finally Nan came up with a good likeness to Kaily's drawing. Now she needs to make 25 of these beads, one for Kaily and the rest for sale through Beads of Courage. Nan has worked with Beads of Courage for over 7 years, and she says "There is nothing better than bringing a smile to a sick child's face." The Sonoran School of Glass hosts a Bead-A-Thon every year that brings beaders in from all over Arizona to take time at the torch and make 'a zillion' beads for the kids.
If you ever get a chance to visit Nan and Pam and their wonderful gallery/shop/studio/salon, do it! Better yet, plan your next trip to the International Gem Show in Tucson in February, when it's downright balmy in this beautiful desert town. And do a triple play with a visit to the show, a stop at the Sonoran School of Glass, and a jaunt out to 1202 Artworx to take in the gorgeous art, get a great cut and color, wrap a luxurious silk scarf around your neck, and buy a beautiful handcrafted glass bead necklace. You won't regret it!
In case you can't visit soon, you can see more online here:
Until next time,