Get to Know Scott Bouwens: Inventor of Bearfoot Tools by Studio Pro

801000-EMS-3-SLEEVES-WITH-BOX-WEBHave you ever seen something so inventive or ingenious that you said “Not only do I have to have this, but I must meet the person responsible for it!”? That’s what a lot of lampworkers are saying these days about the Bearfoot Tools by Studio Pro Line and here is your chance to get the inside scoop on the creative mind behind Bearfoot Tools.

We are so excited about this line of lampworking tools because it not only showcases the pure creativity of the artist who created them but Diamond Tech’s versatility as a tool manufacturer. The Bearfoot Tools by Studio Pro line consists of a line of fatigue reducing, productivity increasing Electric Mandrel Spinners, marvers, hand stabilizers and the cross functional Powder Vibe.

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Scott and Monica Bouwens, owners of Bearfoot Art Studio, have long been known in the lampworking industry for their 14 years of contemporary lampworking, bead making, jewelry design and tool construction.  In August of 2012 a creative collaboration occurred between the Bouwens and Diamond Tech International where in Bearfoot Tools; the Bouwens line of lampworking tools was purchased by Diamond Tech.

Take a moment to get to know Scott Bouwens, the inventor of Bearfoot Tools and take a look at this fantastic line.

  • How did you get started in lampworking?

02_Scott_BouwensI was first introduced to Lampworking in 1996. My girlfriend, now my wife, Monica was managing a bead store in Wenatchee Washington. The owner of the bead store gave Monica an appreciation gift of a bracelet that was made with simple lampwork beads she had created herself. I think that is the first time I ever heard the term lampwork. I remember being quite taken with the idea of working glass in a torch. It must have been obvious because Monica gave me a book, Making Glass Beads by Cindy Jenkins, a torch, some glass, and some basic tools as a gift for my birthday present that year. I don’t think she had any idea how directly that gift would end up shaping our future. I think she simply expected to get some cool free beads from me to use in her jewelry. She got a lot more than that as I seemed to have a natural talent for lampworking glass beads. Not long after I started making beads, we started to do local shows selling jewelry made by the two of us. I traveled to sell at “Bead Shows” and Ebay was getting going at that time as well. I found I could sell things as fast as I could make them. I was a self taught newbie practicing my craft and selling the beads that I was learning from. I liked what I was making and it blended so well with what my wife was passionate about that eventually we made the switch to being full time artists.

  • How did you get started inventing tools for lampworking?

I started making tools for working glass right from the beginning because my nature is to invent. I look at a need I have and I lampworkcuffbraceletinstinctively design a process or make something to answer that need. With glass the needs I had fell into three main categories; Spinning, Marvering and Hand Control. Most of the tools I designed fell under one of those headings. I found them incredibly helpful to me and I started to show and sell them at the bead shows I was attending. Others started to use them and I got a reputation for my good designs and the quality of my work. Well, for someone like me, I am off to the races inventing more and more at such news. I like to help others and I like that I have found a unique way to use my natural talent to do so. “See A Need-Fill A Need”

  • How have your other interests/ hobbies/ career influenced your glass designs and inventions?

I used to be very deep into model airplane building, the RC kind. I would build them, fly them, crash them, fix them and fly and rebuild and fly them some more. Needless to say I spent a lot of time and money in hobby stores back then. Many of the designs for Bearfoot Tools include materials that I became familiar with back then. I got more than knowledge of good materials from that hobby; I learned about electronics, physics and I fell in love with science too. I pursued what I was interested in and followed it to the end and beyond. I do that with my glass designs too. I get an idea, try it out, if I like what I have then I keep working it over and over until I get it right how I want it to be.  I do that in my designs, my glass art, and my life to the best of my ability.

  • What inspires you? 

I am inspired by nature, science, experience, and story-both the hearing and telling of.

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  • What makes your work different from everyone else’s? 

 I use a lot of silver in my work and I have developed a technique for creating many color effects with it.  Not very many people know how to do what I do and those who can choose to make their own style of bead.   So I would say it is a cooperation between myself and other bead artists, each of us striving to be uniquely our own, that makes us all different.

  • Who’s work, glass or otherwise, do you most admire? 

Kerri Furr, Glass beads & Jewelry – Alex Kargopoltsev, Fine art painter–

  • Do you sell your work? If so, where? 

I own Bearfoot Art Glass Studio, a retail store in LaConner WA.  We sell beads, jewelry, gifts, and Bearfoot Tools by Diamond Tech there and on our website.  We are also selling on Etsy, and we are looking for Galleries to show our Bead Creature lines like our beaded Dragons or Caterpillars.

  • What are some upcoming exhibits / shows are you excited about? 

I am looking to get back into shows more as we transition from being a tool manufacturing company that also makes beads to being a full time glass artist that also invents and sells tools.  I am not sure what events I’ll be at so there isn’t anything specific for me to be excited about right now, but I will say that wherever I go I will be excited to see some of my old friends from the bead show circuit.  They are great people.

  • What advice would you give other artists? 

Follow what you are passionate about and try to do that to the best quality you can.  Look for opportunities and obstacles.  And when you can, turn obstacles into opportunities. 

Tulip Fields in Skagit beadCheck out some of Scott’s work or get in touch with the Bouwens using the links below!

Website: http://www.bearfootart.com/

Blog: http://bloggingbearfoot.blogspot.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bearfoot-Art-Glass-Studio-Lampwork-Beads-and-Tools-by-Scott-Bouwens/138751361232?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BearfootArt

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/bearfootart

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bearfootart

Etsy Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/BearfootArtGlass

Ebay Shop: http://www.ebay.com/sch/bearfootart/m.html?_ipg=50&_sop=12&_rdc=1

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Who’s Ready for the Glass Craft & Bead Expo

MakingBeadWhat happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Wrong! You can throw that old adage out the window when it comes to the Glass Craft & Bead Expo. Who wouldn’t want to share all of the new and exciting products and techniques found here? For those who have never been to or never heard of the Glass Craft & Bead Expo, it’s one of the largest gatherings of the glass art community and it’s being held this year in Sin City from April 3-7, what better location for one of the hottest events in the glass industry! The Glass Craft & Bead Expo has been going strong for over 25 years and this year the show boasts over 100 distributors, manufacturers, retailers and artists and over 250 classes and workshops covering hot and cold glass techniques as well as business development.

This year Diamond Tech is sponsoring the Flame-Off for Charity event on April 4th! What’s a “Flame-Off” you ask? It’s a race against the clock to create flameworked glass projects that will be auctioned off at the Charity Auction April 7th to benefit Opportunity Villages.  Attendees will be able to watch the artist work while enjoying music and munchies. This year Diamond Tech the manufacturer of Bearfoot Tools by Studio Pro is a Gold Sponsor. In addition to a monetary endowment, Diamond Tech will be donating an Electric Mandrel Spinner ($250.00 value) to the winner of the competition.801000-EMS-3-SLEEVES-WITH-BOX-WEB

We know we’re excited about Glass Craft & Bead Expo, how about you? If you’re as excited as we are about this awesome expo, come on out to Vegas from April 4-7 and view new products, learn new techniques and connect and share with the glass community! Leave us a comment and let us know if you are attending!

The Electric Mandrel Spinner – A Cure for the Common Lampworker’s Fatigue

craftmdHey there lampworkers, we love your work and we know you love working with the torch! But let’s face it “love hurts!”

Long hours in the flame can result in a lot of “ouchies” from carpal tunnel or general muscle fatigue. Well Dr. Lauren the Craft MD is here to help you feel all better!

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I’m writing you a prescription for instant relief – Bearfoot Tools by Studio Pro™ Electric Mandrel Spinner!

This revolutionary cure was designed by glass artist Scott Bouwens specifically to reduce arm, wrist and hand strain while simultaneously increasing productivity. This innovative tool provides a constant spinning motion of the mandrel which equally distributes gravitational pull and controls heat dispersion for well-shaped beads with little effort. The EMS can be used to create twisty canes…fast, tight and easily. Marvering has never been so effortless and you can create multiple even-sided spacers in moments. Mix colors quickly, consistently and bubble free! Tack a stringer to wind around a bead quickly and evenly for consistent spirals, or space dots evenly with speed and accuracy. Fast core-building leaves more time to embellish.

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The EMS is available in 5 different models; Original, Original Petite, Midsize, Midsize Petite and Deluxe. It has dual directionality, handy for righties and lefties and perfect for techniques like feathering and raking. The EMS provides three forms of speed control with a range of 65-105 repetitions per minute; a switch for high and low speed control and a rheostat knob for more precise control are located on the power box and a clutch is located on the handle to temporarily slow or stop the mandrel for precise detail work.

You can get your prescription filled at any of our stained glass distributors or retailers in your area and start feeling better TODAY!

To view this revolutionary addition to the Diamond Tech line, head on over to our Bearfoot Tools page  or to find a retailer in your area visit our Dealer Lookup.

Torch Fired Bead Tips: Merging Rods

When you are toiling away all day making beautiful torch fired glass beads, sometimes you just don’t want to stop! That is until you find yourself working with the short end of the stick – or well, more likely working with the short end of the glass rod. We have all been there, you are using a color you really love but you have to stop because you are too close to the flame. You’ve used all of your nice long glass rods on all of those beautiful glass beads and now you’re left with short, stubby pieces.

Why not leverage those sad, unusable bits of glass rods and merge them to get some more use from them. All you need is your torch and two hands. You don’t even need to merge the same colors, make a rainbow if you’d like!

Start by warming  both rods at the same time in the flame and when they are molten simply butt them together and pull slightly apart. Voila, a slightly longer glass rod! Let the rod cool and keep merging more rods until you are satisfied! I like to merge my favorite rods with colors that I don’t particularly like to use,  just because I don’t like to use them in my bead making, it doesn’t mean I can’t use them at all, right!

Try it for yourself and be sure to stop by our Creative Corner for more tips and some great glass bead making  projects.

Weekender Project: Adorable Penguin Glass Bead

Still feeling that nip in the air? This fancy fella  just might warm your workspace and even melt your heart , afterall he is made with a torch! This Emperor Penguin bead would make a great focal bead on earrings, bracelets and necklaces. The instructions for this adorable penguin glass bead can be found here or in our Creative Corner along with more glass craft projects.

3 Ways to Make an “Oops” Work When Making Glass Beads

Trust me, I am no stranger to making mistakes and flubbing glass beads when I am torch firing, the fact that I am still a beginner and I am very impatient probably has a lot to do with this. I have learned, however, to embrace, cover up and or learn from my little mistakes.

 

  1. Embrace your mistakes! The most common mistake I make is over firing or burning my glass, especially with filigree (vibrant color, encased in clear glass) leaving a wispy, smoky look.  Sometimes the smoky look works out and you’ll find marbled swirls of grey and black encased in clear. Use these as accent beads with solid black or clear beads.  
  2. Cover up your mistakes! The handiest tools I have are my graphite paddle and parallel press! Sometimes I use them for their intended purpose like adding texture and shaping a bead. But their added bonus is that you can hide a little mistake too. If you dislike the pattern you create or you add too much or too little color, you can change the look of your malformed bead very quickly by flattening the molten bead with a parallel press or change the texture with a graphite paddle or even swirling your colors with a rake!
  3. Learn from your mistakes! I figured out that a lot of my pattern/texture mistakes came from the way I had my tools and glass laid out- rearrange your workspace to figure out what works for you. I also started the difficult practice of timing myself and I made a little chart with the time it takes to create an optimal bead and the time it takes to burn one.  

Check out the Diamond Tech Creative Corner for some fun glass bead making projects and check back every week for more glass craft tips and tricks.