Interview with Gary Lisle, a lamp work glass bead artist.
For people who have not heard of lamp work glass, what is it and what can you create using the process?
Lamp working is the process of forming glass into shapes over a fixed torch using oxygen and LPG. Depending on the torch size you can make anything from beads to paperweights, perfume bottles, goblets etc.
Do you use the lamp work process to create anything other than beads and jewellery?
I use it mainly to make beads, I also make murrini canes and elements for adding to blown glass pieces.
What gave you that first spark of interest in bead making using this technique?
I was introduced to beads, by a friend who was having trouble finding Australian glass bead makers (2001). She was making jewellery and could get beads from overseas but at that time our $ was worth about .50c US$.
What is it that attracts you to lamp work glass as a form of artistic expression?
Outback pendants by Gary Lisle
I find the alchemy of glass fascinating and the end result is sometimes not apparent until the glass comes out of the annealer. Also, no two days are the same, your torch settings can be slightly different day to day and this will impact on your outcomes.
How did you go about learning how to do lamp work?
I found a course, a half day, which in 2001 was a challenge, this got me hooked and then I practiced and experimented for 4 months then I was lucky to be recommended to Jandy Pannell who was running a five day course. I find the most important thing is to learn all you can about glass, not just lamp working and then observe and experiment with adapting these techniques to my process, I find books helpful but I think too many people read options and take these as the ONLY way of achieving an outcome.
Your pieces definitely have their own unique style and theme, how would you describe it?
Organic, Nature, Experimental, Challenging and Unique.
What are you working on at present?
In conjunction with Tina Cooper, a hot glass artist we have been working on her "Tribal Tribute" series and working also toward exhibition pieces for Perth and North Qld in 2007.
What materials, apart from glass, do you use in your work?
I use found objects "road kill" and incorporate these into some of my work.
Outback pendant by Gary Lisle
Do you think of yourself more as an artist or a craftsperson, or do you even consider there is a difference between the two?
This is a perennial question, a definition I have of an artist is; "one who professes and practices an imaginative art" I believe that is what I do. A craftsman is; "a workman who practices a trade or handicraft" So I think I am an artist !!!!!!!!
Where do you look for inspiration for the designs of your beads?
I look mainly to nature and to my environment. I find that by observing and challenging myself I come up with something different, it also makes for some interesting "mistakes".
How much does your surrounding environment influence your work?
I think this is the most important element of the creative process, if we are subjected to mayhem and interruptions then my art and the process of producing art will be chaotic and fragmented. Give the artist paradise and watch the results.
If you had to choose a favourite piece you have made what would it be?
I think it is a piece which i still have from my five day course in 2002, it is very organic with found pieces of coral, glass fish hooks, glass sinkers all strung on fishing line...very agricultural, but the result of a brief by my instructor and her encouragement for us to think outside the normal.