Featured Artisan Spotlight: Audrie Wiesenfelder, PurpleButterfly
Posted by pauljvguillaume on 06/02/2011 at 13:39:57
Please start by telling us a little about yourself and your studio.
I’ve been a glass bead-maker since 1992, except for a 2 ½ year hiatus caused by the lack of a glass studio. I've been involved in Arts and Crafts all my life, starting with knitting and crochet when I was about 7 or 8, and continued until about 15 years ago. Having graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I worked as a designer in the Chicago Fashion Industry until my daughter and son came along. While they were young, I taught Macrame, Knitting, and Crochet at a local community center, as well as selling my creations at Craft Fairs.
When I started designing glass bead jewelry, I was never able to find the beads I envisioned in my head to use in my jewelry. While taking my first bead-making class to meet that need, I knew that I had found a medium that was absolutely right for me. Working at the torch is very Zen-like; the flame and the molten glass are hypnotic and mesmerizing, creating images and ideas in my mind.
Lacking a glass studio when we first started coming to Tucson, and looking for another outlet for my creativity, I returned to Knitting and Crochet, having become hooked (pun intended) on all the beautiful new yarns available. Then I discovered FreeRange, Evocative knitting, and I was off and running.
We moved to Tucson full time a little over 2 years ago, but in spite of being in a bigger house, I still didn't have a glass studio. And all along, I really missed glasswork, and so this past June, my husband relinquished his workshop area and set up a glass studio for me. Being a bit rusty, it took a while for me to bring some of my skills up to their previous level, but I'm back in the groove again. Although I will never again totally give up fiber-crafts.
For many years I did a number of the major bead shows around the country, but gave that up when it got too difficult to do, especially considering the changes in air travel. So here I am at ArtFire, where I hope to entice you to sample my wares.
If there’s one thing that defines you, what is it?
Probably my sense of color. Color fuels all my ideas and designs; my colors and color blending are the first thing other people always mention about my work, whether glass or fiber.
What role does your family play in your art?
My children are grown and on their own, but have always been very supportive. My husband helps in many ways: he’s made displays for my beads and jewelry; relinquished his workshop and converted it into a glass studio; created new shelving to connect my existing cabinets, creating wall-to-wall yarn storage in my office/fiber workshop, and most of all touts my talents whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Where do you live and what is it like?
After living my life in Chicago and suburbs, and 5 years of spending the winters in Tucson, we moved to Tucson permanently (year round) a little over 2 years ago. The summers are quite hot, but you end up staying in more (as others do in the winter) and that allows more time to work on my glass and fiber projects. The rest of the year, the weather is wonderful, with sun just about every day, all day, and the scenery and views are glorious. We have the good fortune to have views of all 5 mountain ranges from our house. Most people think the desert is all dry and beige/brown, but in reality the colors of the vegetation are varied and act as great inspiration for my glass and fiber projects.
Where did you learn your medium?
I took my first glass bead making class in 1992 from Donavon Boutz, at the Joliet Junior College, sponsored by the then Chicago Bead Society. I subsequently studied with Brian Kirkvliet and Bandhu Scott Dunham at Penland, and Loren Stump, Robert Mickelson, Pam Duggar, and Doug Remshneider, as well as Lucio Bubacco and Vittorio Constantini in Murano.
How did you come to selling online?
I’ve come to a stage in my life where doing shows has become difficult, and online seems like the right place to promote my work.
How did you come to find a home on ArtFire?
I checked out what was available, and kind of liked “the new kid on the block”, especially since it promotes the idea of “buy local”.