By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
Jewelry artist Andrea Kiernan of Friday Harbor, Washington, uses hot glass to create lavender flower beads that look like the herb is frozen in time.
“The miniature-sculpted flower heads are, for me, a way of preserving the fleeting excitement of the fields in full bloom so that they can be enjoyed as adornments year round,” says Andrea. “Each bead is modeled after a specific variety of lavender and is slowly kiln annealed for durability.”
Her pendant series includes vials designed to be filled with lavender essential oil. “In my studio, I work to recreate the visual beauty of the lavender fields. The wearer of these pendant vials can now experience another sensual dimension – somewhat like an ongoing aromatherapy treatment. It’s the next best thing to a summer walk in the fields.”
Q. What gave you the idea for lavender beads?
I am inspired by the organic lavender farm –Pelindaba Lavender — where I have worked for the last 13 years. We grow many different kinds of lavender, all shapes, colors and sizes on more than 15 acres – more than 25,000 lavender plants – annual blooming inspiration for my work.
Q. How did you develop them?
I was trained as a traditional glass blower and studied glass blowing upstate New York near Corning, and in Italy. It took me many years to develop the glass-sculpting techniques that I use to make each lavender bead. When I look back on my early work, they hardly even look like lavender.
Q. How did you perfect them?
Over the years I have acquired more hand tools for working with the glass, various torches and a broader knowledge of the botany of lavender. My main glass bead and jewelry line includes ten colors — several shades of purple and blue as well as white, pale pink and green – colors of lavender that many people are unaware of.
The more I work with lavender, the more ideas I have for jewelry designs. For example, from studying the long, cylindrical flowers of some of the Angustifolia (IS THIS RIGHT?) varieties, I created glass lavenders made of multiple smaller beads, wired together to mimic the way the flower spikes grow, in separated whorls along the stem.
Q. What is your latest jewelry?
Bud stud ear jackets have been a popular new addition to my line. They are made of tiny, glass, lavender beads which represent the whorls of buds grown in sections around the main flower stem. The bud-whorl bead is worn on the front of the earlobe with a set of silver leaves hanging behind the ear. In recent years I have enjoyed creating custom pieces for brides and wedding parties, many of whom get married in the blooming lavender fields.
Q. Where can we buy them?
While I still make each and every lavender bead, floret by floret, my business has been expanding steadily. You can find my beads and jewelry work at Pelindaba Lavender Farm stores. For a complete list of lavender farms, galleries and festivals, please visit Lavenderbeads.com.
Andrea works in her home studio on San Juan Island at the end of a long dirt road, in the Pacific Northwest’s rainforest-like woods where she lives with her husband and two young daughters. They keep chickens and honeybees and a garden with a ridiculous number unusual lavender species.