LoveToKnow had the pleasure of interviewing lampwork jewelry artist, Blanche Melamed, of Blanche and Guy Designs. Blanche gives LoveToKnow the scoop on how she and her lampwork bead designer husband, Guy Melamed, began designing jewelry and grew their hobby into a prominent business.
Blanche and Guy Designs are a husband and wife jewelry designing team. Their designs are known for the attention to detail and original concepts. Many of their art jewelry features their signature frog design, which is highly popular.
LoveToKnow welcomes the opportunity to introduce you to the artists behind the unique lampwork jewelry designs.
Blanche and Guy Designs Interview
The Early Years
LoveToKnow (LTK): How did Blanche and Guy Designs begin?Blanche: I heard about the art of glass beads from a friend of a friend who used lampwork beads in her jewelry. I was very interested in how they were made so I checked out some library books and shared them with Guy. We visited a local stained glass shop and bought a simple start-up kit. Guy lit the torch and was hooked from the moment he melted the colored glass rod. After about a month on that beginner's torch, he realized that he was in love with the art and so we purchased a more advanced torch which enabled him to develop his skills and learn new techniques.
LTK: Were you both interested in jewelry design and fashion before starting your business? Blanche: Yes, we were both interested in jewelry design and fashion, but only from an admirer's standpoint. We enjoyed browsing around at art festivals and dreamed of living the life of an artist.
Husband and Wife Jewelry Design Team
LTK: According to your website, Guy designs the handmade beads and Blanche designs the jewelry. How do you collaborate when making a piece of jewelry? Do you share all aspects of the creative process?Blanche: Sometimes I will ask Guy to make me specific beads in certain colors but most of the time I simply use what he gives me. We definitely discuss designs and critique each other's work but mostly work individually.
Working with Lampwork
LTK: You specialize in lampwork jewelry. What materials do you commonly use in your jewelry?
Blanche: I like to keep Guy's beautiful beads as the focus of each piece of jewelry so I choose my supplies around his beads.
Typically I have a hand in all types of sterling silver wire. I also have lots of tiny seed beads in a variety of earthy colors. One ingredient that I have fallen in love with is Hill Tribe Silver from Thailand. Since they have a higher silver content (fine silver), the material is more malleable so the artist is able to shape it into interesting patterns such as an origami bead. I usually attach the completed pendant to a handmade leather necklace because I think it looks youthful.
LTK: What are the rewards and challenges of working with lampwork?
Blanche: Working with lampwork beads is very rewarding, especially since they are made by my own personal designer - my husband! They are always very unique and bright. Sometimes the weight and shape of the beads might challenge me to make the design work better but it is always a fun adventure.
About Guy's Lampwork Bead Design
LTK: What inspires a bead design? How do get ideas for a new bead design? Walk us through your creative process for making beads.
Blanche: Every glass bead artist knows that the flame and the glass are always in charge. Guy uses his glass like a painter uses paint on a canvas. While making glass beads involves a creative process, the technical process has much more to do with it. You have to remember that he is working in a 2000 degree flame only inches, sometimes less, from the flame. You can be as creative as you want in choosing the shape and pattern of a bead but if you don't have the technical aspect down, your beads will not survive outside of the flame. So many things can go wrong and sometimes after working on one bead for 35 minutes or more, it will get just a bit too hot or be held outside of the flame for a little too long and poof! It's gone. Cracked or shattered all over the table. This is why making beads never gets old. There is always something more to learn and become proficient in.
About Blanche's Jewelry Design
LTK: What is your inspiration for creating a piece of jewelry? How do you get ideas for a new jewelry design? Share your creative process for making jewelry with us.
Blanche: Guy's beads generally dictate what I do with them. For example, last week he couldn't sleep one night so he went out to the studio and made beads until the sun came up. When I saw the beads that came from that night, I was blown away! They were just a perfect pairing of the right color combinations, the right scale and tons of dots. Laying dots in a symmetrical pattern on a bead can be very tricky. When the time is right, I will sit at my table and string them up along with some silver beads. We both love it that the beads have the potential to survive forever - no expiration dates on glass. If I make a necklace one day and decide later on that it's just not right, I can take it apart and use the beads as individual necklace focals or as charms on a bracelet, etc.
Distinctive Blanche and Guy Designs Style
'''LTK: How would you define your jewelry style?Blanche: The glass that Guy uses is generally bright, vivid colors while I am usually attracted to earthy tones. So I tend to meld the two styles together to create fun and playful pieces. I like to match Guy's preciseness with my own and keep the beads as the focus.
LTK: Frogs are a part of many of your popular and artistic bead designs. Are frogs a Blanche and Guy signature design?
Blanche: After Guy started making beads in the summer of 2003, he kept trying new techniques from the beadmaking guide by Corina Tettinger. Many designs he picked up quickly or at least after many tries but the frog beads eluded him for some time. As he started to get better at making them, people started to buy them more so he kept up with the demand. He loves the challenge of getting them to sit just right on the bead, with the toes and fingers and legs placed correctly. He also wanted to add that trying not to get burned while laying the glass down and achieving the precise look also keeps his art evolving.
Where to Shop
Customers can find lampwork jewelry artists Blanche and Guys' jewelry designs at the following websites and locations:
- Blanche and Guy's Etsy Store
- Blanche and Guy's Ebay shop
- The Catskill Mountain Foundation Art Gallery, Hunter, NY
- Revolution Boutique, Catskill, NY
- Massage and Therapies Unlimited, Coxsackie, NY