My work is inspired by nature and I’m known for my landscape and floral series. I find much of my inspiration here in beautiful, rural coastal Down East Maine.
I am a self representing artist, meaning I create all of the beads and jewelry I sell as well as do all the selling, shipping, listing and photographing involved in selling them myself. My beads are made in the flame of a torch by me, Mandy Williams Ramsdell, in my studio. Each bead is unique and is a wearable work of art. My beads are properly annealed in a digitally controlled kiln for strength and durability. However should one of my beads develop a crack or chip from normal wear I will replace it. My beads are made from glass rods that are made here in the United States and others that are imported from Italy and Germany. For deals, updates and news about new designs “like” my Lion’s Paw Jewelry and Glass Art page on Facebook. I even have a short video of me making beads on my page. Like my work and want to support a self representing artist but don’t have the cash to buy something? Tell a friend! I’d love it if you shared my work or page on Facebook or other social media sites.
I grew up in coastal and rural Downeast Maine. There were very few activities around when I was a kid, so when my best friend started taking sewing lessons from a lady in town, I begged my mother to let me take them too. My sewing teacher made quilts full time, but not just any quilts! Her quilts are works of art. Susan’s quilts are still the most gorgeous, artistic, and unique quilts I’ve seen. From her, I learned a lot about sewing, the importance of quality craftsmanship, and had the first introduction into the art world.
One day Susan gave me a bead catalog, and I became so fascinated with it that the catalog never left my side for weeks. I started to make jewelry with beads I purchased, but soon realized that I really wanted to design my own beads and started making them out of polymer clay. In my search for any information on making beads that I could find, I learned about lampwork beads. It took me a year or two to convince my parents that I would not burn the house down if they gave their consent to let me set up a glass beadmaking studio. As soon as my summer vacation started after my first year in highschool, I had a studio in my Dad’s log cabin workshop. After becoming skilled enough to make saleable quality beads, I started my business, Lion’s Paw Jewelry and Glass Art.
The “Lion’s Paw” name was inspired by my favorite book series as a kid, The Chronicles of Narnia. To me, the name signifies a combination of the mighty and the humble. In a way, this describes the goal I have always had with my beads: to create exquisite detail in a very small wearable size bead. Oftentimes in life, the most beautiful details and moments are overlooked if we don’t take the time to look close enough. That’s what I hope that wearing my beads does for my customers: it gives them a world to escape in, a reminder to slow down and not overlook the small things in life. I’ve found charm beads to be the greatest distraction/stress relief whether you are sitting in a waiting room or stuck in traffic. I also love the idea of giving owners of my art a way to bring nature and its calming effects to places where it isn’t always present.
I have constantly challenged myself to add more and more detail and quality to my beads. I have always wanted to maintain their wearable size, so I have developed many unique techniques to add as much detail as possible in a very small amount of glass. Except for my two etched glass styles, “Frost” and “Sea Glass Gem” series, each of my beads is discreetly signed MWR in titanium pen by the core. I do the silversmith work myself so the cores are a solid piece of sterling silver. I guarantee the quality of my work.
I also use rare, limited supply, or handmade batches of glass which translate to unique color and effects in my beads. Each piece is unique and each piece is photographed by myself individually, which is a massive but necessary time investment on my part. Otherwise, I would need to sell the beads sight unseen and constantly copy my own designs, which would take all the art out of my work. To me, this is worth the 60-80 hour weeks I typically work because I do what I love. Because of this extra effort, I offer an ever-changing selection of beads.
Do you do special orders?
No, sorry. Because glass is a very unpredictable medium by it’s nature and the fact that I use many specialty glasses in my work that are not always available, I don’t take special orders. I do however like to hear your ideas and requests.
Are those real flowers encased in the beads?
No, the flowers are all created from tiny layered dots of glass. I first pull the colors of glass I want for the flower petals in strands so thin that they are flexible called “stringers”. After the base bead is made and the background detail is encased I use the stringers to make tiny dots placed in as perfect of a circle as I can on the surface of the bead. I then top these dots with a transparent color, and slowly melt them flush with the surface of the bead. If the flower has more than one layer of petals I repeat this step again. The “flowers” are later carefully encased in clear glass to create the depth and magnify the sparkle that you see in my floral beads. Some of the detail in my beads such as the butterflies are created by using murrini. Murrini is made by making a large design in glass and pulling it into a thin cane that when cool is cut into slices. The slices are then carefully heated, applied to the beads and encased. Using murrini allows me to get incredible detail in small beads.