A little about Firenza BeadsI am blessed to have a career in art, and pursue my passion that began when I was in grade school and summertime art classes. While my adult years brought marriage, children and a full-time nursing career, I was shown a way back to my dream of being an artist and creating work for both myself and others to enjoy... art that I hope tickles some whimsy and provokes a smile along the way...
My training in lampwork beads began in 2001 under guidance of Ginny Sycuro in Evergreen, Colorado; training that helped shape my current lampwork style. I have also studied with other noted regional and national artists such as Kim Miles from Taos, New Mexico, and Corina Tettinger from Camano Island, Washington.
Inspired by the creative processes involved with bead making, I joined the International Society of Glass Beadmakers (ISGB) and attended their national gathering in Arlington, Virginia where I was exposed to international artists whose glass bead creations were beyond fabulous! I was inspired to make art full time, and soon began traveling to shows in Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia under the trade name Bluebird Beads. Since then we have added almost every other state in the union.
In 2005, I relocated to Colorado, where I was inspired by the beauty of the mountains, streams and wildlife in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. I launched Firenza Beads & Silver with my husband Tom, and we discovered an artistic synergy with my glass beads and his work in silver. In January 2009, I was blessed with the opportunity to move to Arroyo Seco, New Mexico, and open Firenza Gallery. The beauty and serenity of Northern New Mexico provided an inspiration for new creative work.
My greatest joy is in creating new designs of my glass beads; I especially enjoy making my sculptural "critter" beads. These critters take on life and bring a smile to all. Some of my whimsical creations have been featured in trade publications such as "Beadwork" magazine and in the books "The Art and Soul of Glassbeads" and the, now out of print, "Passing the Flame - Spotlight on Beads."
My husband Tom has been very supportive and makes the business work from the accounting, administrative and scheduling end. This allows me to not worry with those details and concentrate on the creative side. He not only supplies the heavy lifting but the creative bug has even bitten him as he actually makes the silver jewelry.
We have closed our gallery and returned to our permanent home and studio in our renovated church/house in Ault, Colorado. Living in the renovated church is inspiring and fun... some of our artist friends call our home "The Church of Art in Ault"; while another friend calls it "St. Beads." Whatever the name tag, it provides an imaginative and colorful home/studio in which to dream, to create our art and enjoy our life on the Front Range, near the mountains. The Taos News once referred to us as "reformed art gypsies;" because we enjoy traveling and doing art shows and festivals all over the country, we probably need to delete the "reformed" part of that phrase. So keep an eye out for us and our whimsical jewelry...we may be coming to your community to do an art show.
Our website and shopping cart allow us to better serve our customers...not everyone wants to wait for the "art gypsy" wagon to come for a visit. Please take some time and look at what we have. We are going to keep updating the site, so come back often. You may want to bookmark the site so it is easier to find. We also have set it up to work on the iPhone and others to make it easier to see for our mobile customers.
- Jill Shank, August 2011