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Five questions with Annie Vedovell Shook

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Photo/Heather Gergen
When we met Annie Vedovell Shook at the 2016 Bead&Button Show, she had a torch in one hand and molten glass in the other. She was playing with fire. No, she was creating with fire. To be specific, she was creating a colorful, tropical fish bead made out of glass.

Shook, a professional lampworker, was demonstrating the craft at the International Society of Glass Beadmakers booth. Several members of the organization gave demonstrations throughout the weekend, and then generously donated their creations to a charity auction to benefit breast cancer research.

Lampworking is a type of glasswork where a torch is used to melt glass into shapes. The artists use hand tools, gravity, and blowing to shape the molten glass into forms. Shook took a few minutes to talk with Facet about using this technique to create miniature pieces that she turns into whimsical, wearable art.
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Photo/Heather Gergen
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN CREATING?
I have been making lampworked glass for 15+ years. I love the challenge of working with a high-powered, precise torch, molding brightly colored transparent and opaque glass using different tools, techniques, and gravity until it becomes something special.

HOW DID YOU LEARN JEWELRY-MAKING?
I had always loved the art of glass blowing, but was daunted by the expense, equipment, and large spaces involved. My mother and I took a class one summer at Ox-Bow, a summer school in Michigan affiliated with the Art Institute of Chicago, and I found my passion. I began creating miniature glass objects while experimenting with texture, color, and light.
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Photo/Courtesy Annie Vedovell Shook

WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO CREATE?
My studio in my house. It's bright and cheerful. I just like to be surrounded by color. I have a rainbow of glass rods next to my torch station and a wall of colorful ribbons for inspiration. It’s a happy place. I made the glass knobs on the cabinets. In fact, I just made glass knobs in aqua and blues for a whole kitchen in the Bahamas.

WHAT IS THE MOST UNUSUAL PLACE YOU'VE EVER MADE JEWELRY?
On our family sailboat in the Bahamas. I was half-raised on a sailboat. My parents are avid sailors. In fact, when I was young they took me out of school for a year and we sailed from Miami to Venezuela and all around the Caribbean, then back up to Nantucket and the east coast.

My parents now live on their boat in the Bahamas during the winter. Now that my kids are grown, I go down there for about a month at a time and work on the boat. I can’t really bring a torch on the boat — my dad would kill me. So, I do assembly there, mostly beading and bead embroidery.

WHAT PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON?
My brother works with an orphanage in Cambodia. The orphanage has a yearly auction in October. I am planning to have the kids write their thoughts or maybe a bible verse on paper, then I will tuck them into the hollow blown-glass beads — kind of like fortune cookies.

The missionary for the orphanage said the art room is the kids’ favorite place and that they love to make jewelry. They used to be able to raise money by weaving jewelry, but that has become unpopular lately. So, they need a new skill. We will auction the glass beads off to raise funds for me to get supplies to travel to Cambodia to teach them basic lampworking skills to provide a new way for them to support themselves.

More examples of Annie Vedovell Shook's work can be found at anniedidit.com.

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