The Fall 2021 cohort of the Bead Project gathered in the Agnes Varis Art Center on Sunday, November 14th to host a Trunk Show in celebration of completing their 10-week course on flameworking and entrepreneurship. The pop-up event was a chance for this diverse group of women to display and sell the colorful beads and unique glass jewelry they created at the torch in the UrbanGlass studio throughout the season. Many of their family and friends attended the event, watching as each student received a certificate and “stepped up” into a new chapter as UrbanGlass studio renters, community members and self-starters. The women’s jewelry displays reflected their individual personalities, brand aesthetics, and approaches to working with glass, while also highlighting the group’s camaraderie and sense of community. Before long, the room was full of curious shoppers marveling over the beautiful results of the students’ hard work.
The Bead Project is a scholarship program with a mission to support creatively inclined women (including ciswomen, transwomen, and femme-identifying non-binary folks) as they find a new material for self-expression and the generation of supplemental income. This semester marked the program’s return to the studio following a pandemic-induced hiatus as well as the first group led by new Bead Project Director Victoria Ahmadizadeh Melendez. The class explored the fundamentals of solid and hollow beadmaking with a rainbow of soft glass, as well as the basics of constructing forms with borosilicate glass rods. In addition to glassmaking, students learned the importance of creating a business plan, getting to know their aesthetic and their clients, and marketing themselves through photography and social media.Guest speakers such as certified Art Therapist Jason Montalvo and Bead Project Alumna Ope Omojola, founder of Octave Jewelry, shared their experiences and motivated the class to persevere through the challenges of working with a molten medium and becoming small business owners. Many of the women expressed the sense of empowerment in having participated in the course and the satisfaction at having put together such a lively and successful event.
Leading up to the Trunk Show, each of the 8 participants created a signature bead of their own unique design to exchange with classmates and sell in the UrbanGlass|ware store, raising money for future Bead Project programming and events. Their Signature Beads will continue to be on sale by the front register of the store throughout the winter and spring, until the opportunity is passed on to the next class of Bead Project students. Be sure to check out their creations the next time you’re in the store or shopping on the UrbanGlass website!