Why Would I Want to Wash Clothes When I Can Play with Beads? An Interview with Cassie Donlen

Cassie Donlen

When I saw Sandi Wiseheart's Caribbean Breeze Earrings and Melinda Barta's Flower Burst Bracelet, I knew I wanted to talk to the lampwork artist, Cassie Donlen. Her beads are feminine and fun and come in a range of bright colors. I think it would be impossible to stay in a bad mood if you were wearing Cassie's beads!

Michelle: Tell me about the name "glassbeadle.com" that you use for your website. Why did you choose that name?

Cassie: My husband is very clever with names and words. I try to name all of my bead sets and jewelry with fun titles. It has become a game to do word plays to see what clever names we came create. I told him that I wanted a fun website name that centered around beads. We played around with ideas that had the word "beads" in the title and that is how my website name was formed.

Michelle: How would you describe your bead style?

Cassie: Bright and fun. I love making beads with flowers and anything with fun bright colors and funky designs. My niche is making beads for other jewelry designers. I keep this in mind and try to style my beads with designs that appeal to other jewelry artists. It helps that I also design jewelry because then I can get a good feel for what bead designs work best. This also gives my customers an idea of how the beads look in actual jewelry. I can't get enough of working with pinks, blues, greens, and purples. I have found that bead colors also have a season. Come about mid-August, people start wanting the darker blacks and browns to prepare for the fall and winter season. I always get excited come February when the bright colors are back in demand. If I would use one adjective to describe my beads, it would be whimsical.

Michelle: Do you plan your work ahead—sketching on paper—or do you compose your designs "on the torch" as you work?

Cassie: Sometimes I plan my work ahead in my mind, but I don't think I have ever sketched a design on paper. I usually get inspired by Czech beads or other pressed beads that I buy for my jewelry designs. I find these beads and then think that I need something to go with them. I'll go to my workshop and pull rods of glass and start creating. I often create new designs from customer requests. I find that this really pushes my development outside my comfort zone. I have had some great color creations and fun bead designs come this way. I often go kicking and screaming when they request beads colors or designs that I don't normally work with but it is a good way to create something that I never would have done on my own. There are so many ways to get inspiration and anything from a fun design on a paper plate to the packaging of Play Doh can catch my eye and make me think about bead designs.

Michelle: Many Beading Daily readers are moms, too. How do you balance creative work and family? Are there any tips you can offer our readers?

Cassie: This seems to be a topic of conversation that I hear from everyone. It is certainly my biggest challenge. It seems that laundry and a cluttered house are the things that lose out the most on the balancing scale. Why would I want to wash clothes when I can play with beads? I have a wonderful supportive husband that will usually take over watching the kids in the evening while I go downstairs to work. They have been with me all day and it is a good way for the them to get some good Dad time.

My biggest tip in getting beading done is to have a traveling container to work on projects while out and about. I have black jewelry trays for each project that I'm working on. These trays are wonderful for keeping me organized and my projects easily at hand. Then I also have a traveling bead bowl with a lid that fits inside my purse. I can fit my jewelry tools like round nose and chain nose pliers, wire cutters etc. inside this bowl. The bowl also has loose head pins, seed beads, some silver beads or silver wire that are always left inside. Then while I'm at the kids sporting events, speech therapy, swim lessons or even watching them play outside, I can grab one of my projects off the black jewelry tray and put it in a plastic bag, grab my traveling beading bowl with my tools and work on these while I have down time taking my kids from one activity to the other. This way I feel productive and don't feel like I should be at home getting things done. Beading is such a passion and sometimes I just need to force myself to walk away from it and do other things like laundry or go to the pool with my kids.

For more information about Cassie, or to order her beads, including kits for the two projects below, visit glassbeadle.com.

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