Enjoy Bronwen Heilman’s delightful mixed media jewelry. She presents her portfolio and speaks about her craft business.
ABI: You use an unusual mix of materials in your work. Could you tell us about them?
BH: I am a hot glass artist, (flame-worker) by day, and a musician by night. One night after playing a gig with “gHosTcOw”, I decided to try using bar bottles as a glass material at the torch.
I quickly fell in love with this material. However, the color selection is very limited (clear, brown, green, blue) so I worked on successfully figuring out a way to add bright colors to this glass palette.
And around 2007 I was at lunch with a group of women where the discussion turned to how to fix a water hose I had with a hole in the center of the hose. One woman perked up and said “In England, we use bicycle rubber to wrap the water hose, and a piece of wire to bind it tight.” I went home, fixed my water hose, and because this material is like magic, I was very intrigued to see what forms I could create with it in my work.
ABI: A book was published about a technique you developed. What was it about?
BH: The booklet is entitled “Bronwen Heilman, Vitreous Painting Techniques for Glass Beadmaking” was written by Jim Kervin, 2005. In this book I include kiln casting and non-traditional glass painting techniques.
Vitreous enamels are a glass coating made to adhere to metal or porcelain via heat. High heat (around 1500 deg. F and higher). The book represents two years of work that it took for me to develop the technique I use to enamel my original art on flame-worked glass beads. I currently teach this technique in studios around the world.
ABI: What new directions are you taking with your work?
BH: I am pushing the boundaries of using non-traditional materials in my jewelry. In some of my new work I am using powder-coated steel wire (which is very light and can be molded into just about any shape), bicycle inner tubes and flame-worked bottle glass. I am exploring the sculptural aspect of these materials by creating larger and bolder pieces, some of which are in the form of non-wearable jewelry. I enjoy a good challenge, and using recycled and up-cycled materials affords me that challenge.
ABI: What are some of the out-of-the-box ideas you have for marketing and selling?
BH: This may not be so “out of the box” but, The World Wide Web is here to stay, and it is important to have a web presence. People need a place to find your work instantly in the comfort of their living room couch. They need a place where they can view beautiful images your work, and dream about wearing, holding or displaying your work in their home. As artists, it is our duty to uphold our part of the bargain, and give them great websites with great images. Also one way to expand on this idea is to send a pick box to your customer. This way they can try on the pieces, and pick out what works best for them.