Letter to the Editor

The fall issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry was on the stands at Borders Saturday afternoon.? When I picked it up, the first thing I turned to was the Letters to the Editor section.? It contained four very brief, nothing-but-praise entries — not even a breath about the negative responses to the Carter Seibels feature in the last issue.? I know that they received critical feedback from several people, including me, but you would never guess from the letters, nor from the Editor’s Comments, nor any indication of any response anywhere from the table of contents.

At first I was a little perturbed, but then I remembered that this IS a Stampington magazine.? In all the years I’ve read their various magazines off and on, I have rarely if ever seen a negative comment.? That seems to be in keeping with their whole editorial philosophy — much of their published artwork has a definite sameness about it; rarely do you see anything outside very narrow boundaries in there.? (There’s a reason I don’t buy many of their magazines any more — in truth they get boring quickly.)

Since they chose not to publish my comments, at the risk of being repetitive I’ll post them here:

Dear Editor,

My delight in seeing a lampwork artist featured in the Summer 08 issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry rapidly turned to dismay as I read Rice Freeman-Zachary’s article on Carter Seibels, for two reasons.? Apparently neither Ms. Seibels nor Ms. Freeman-Zachary fully understands the use of presses in making lampworked beads.? Pressed beads are indeed hand-crafted, formed one at a time at the torch, unlike furnace glass beads which are mass-produced using molds and then cut into individual beads.? In the hands of a lampworker, the press is simply another tool in their arsenal, allowing creation of forms that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, without their use.? Let us not forget that “hand-formed” beads are actually shaped with tools, not actual hands, as well!? The quality of the resulting bead depends on the skill and vision of the artist, regardless of what tools are used to form the bead — whether pressed or hand-formed, a bead can be exquisite or merely ordinary.

Far more disturbing, though, was the paragraph where Ms. Seibels equates “middle-aged” beadmakers with traditional work, and younger artists with experimental and thus more creative work.? Such generalizations are dangerous! To many people, “traditional” implies boring, stodgy, and ordinary — words which no one wants applied to themself or their work. Had this ageist remark referred to differences in race or gender, I hope it would never have seen the light of print.? As a “middle-aged” artist myself, I hope that the editorial staff, Ms. Freeman-Zachary, and Ms. Seibels will consider their words far more carefully in the future.? Furthermore, I suggest that you take note of such creative lampworking visionaries such as Andrea Guarino-Slemmons and Lydia Muell, both decidedly older than Ms. Seibels herself and both of whom have abandoned eBay for other, more artist-friendly, sales venues.