Maria Smith

I have been in Arkansas for thirty-six years—I love this area! There is art everywhere. Crafts are a way of survival and beauty. My husband, Dave, and I have a small farm on the edge of a ridge in Fox in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. We raised two sons here. We grow a garden, have a small orchard, and raise cows, a pig, and chickens. We, mostly Dave, built our log house, and we have solar power for electricity, with a generator back up. It is a wonderful way to live. We are, as Dave puts it, “self unemployed.” My husband was gracious enough to give up his desk in his shop in our barn to me, so I could have my own workshop; he is now building a shop just for me.

Artist Statement:

When my hands started to wear out from making mosaic tables, a friend suggested I try their glass studio and learn lampwork. I enjoyed it so much that I took lessons from Sage Holland and her son Beau Anderson and bought several books for instructions and ideas.

Lampwork is a type of glass work in which a torch is the primary tool used to melt glass. I use an oxygen/propane mix and soda lime glass. The glass comes in a variety of widths and lengths and in a vast array of colors. To make a bead, the glass is slowly introduced to the flame to prevent thermal shock or cracking. The molten glass is wrapped around a steel mandrel that has been coated in a clay-based substance. Once the glass is molten, it can be shaped by hand movements and tools to form the desired pattern. All parts of the work must be kept at a uniform temperature to prevent shattering. Beads are placed in a kiln at a predetermined temperature to anneal. Annealing relieves the internal stresses, so the piece should last for many years. The main thing about glass work is practice, practice, and more practice—and learning what colors work with each other and trying new ideas.

I enjoy trying different patterns. I combine colors from nature that are pleasing to the eye. I make earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and single beads to place on a cord or silver chain. The earrings have sterling ear wires. The necklaces have either sterling or silver-plated toggles or clasps. I also make necklaces and earrings to match.