Irene Boutzarelos

Irene Boutzarelos

''I.D.'' Bracelet
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest 2013 featuring Seed Beads

Meet the Designer-Artist

Where do you live?
Chicago, Illinois

What inspires you as a designer-artist?
I'm just a visual person, I have always been drawn to the visual arts. I am a retired art teacher, having taught ages K- High School. My father was a photographer and my mother I was constantly around creative people then and now! The positive productive energy is inspirational. I was also very interested in psychology and was a school counselor for 7 years. Human feelings and behaviors are very intriguing. This definitely comes out in my work. It is the human relationship with other humans, nature, and self that is an underlying influence, for sure.

What medium do you work with mostly?
This is so crazy...answer...all! I would say that drawing and painting...acrylic/oil was my basic, but when you teach, you really get involved with lots of mediums...and I tend to not just stick to always ends up mixed. For example, I may start a watercolor painting...but it will end up with ink and pastels and collaged. My drawings, and oil/acrylic paintings do remain as is...and I am pretty traditional...but boy do I have fun when I start getting spontaneous and mixing it up! And now, I have introduced glass into the mix and it has taken a 3D collage-type form. I will have one traditional painting idea going, a mixed media spontaneous piece on the side and then fused glass pieces, which I sell and is what I would consider my business side of my art.

Why did you become enchanted with this style of jewelry-making?
Anything like knitting, crocheting, patterns, never appealed to me. Maybe because I am left-handed and it was hard to learn. One day, maybe 8-9 years ago a good friend of mine, another artist, suggested we take a beading class at a local bead shop. I was reluctant, however, she made it sound I went. Little holes, being left-handed, threading needles were a challenge BUT, my oh my did I fall in love with the color, the shimmer, the feel of those beads. The herringbone stitch was my first, and definitely not my last! I just kept taking classes, buying beads, mixing it with stones, it was an addiction. It was those little glass beads that started the whole fused glass direction.

Where and How do you sell your jewelry?
I have a website that I catalogue my designs, but I don't sell over the internet at all. I have home shows and receptions. I've sold in other people’s homes, I sell at local fairs and events/boutiques. I belong to quite a few art organizations, so my jewelry is out there. My studio is in my home, so my home becomes my store.

What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
It is called ''I.D.'' Bracelet

What inspired this design?
I went to Jr High and High School in the early '60s. The I.D. bracelet was "the thing" if a boy liked you he gave you his I.D. bracelet, it had a metal band and a curved metal with his name engraved on it. I wore an I.D. bracelet all the time and just loved it. Even now, I see a form of an I.D. bracelet and there is this attraction that brings back such good memories. So I have this curved band of fused glass, no name but a design, color that could "identify" the person who is attracted to it. The band is peyote-stitched seed beads that mimic and continue that color/design in the glass. It is funny, how people come up to look at the I.D. bracelets and they reach for the one most attracted to them. So you could call it their "I.D.". They also are baby boomers, most attracted to this design...just like me.

How did it come together?
As always, especially with fused glass, it wasn't planned at all and spontaneously came into being due to an accident in the kiln. I was fusing and slumping a glass cuff bracelet. It got too hot and only the top part was saved...the sides slumped into lumps on the kiln floor (which I made into some really fun pendants that sold immediately!). I took the ends to my grinder and rounded them up and fire polished the "ID" piece...and immediately saw the band part of an I.D. bracelet. Laid on my wrist so nicely and all it needed was a band. So went to my Delicas as they peyote up so nicely and just started weaving the colors and spontaneously worked in the pattern that the fused glass had made. As I weaved, I was thinking so how are you going to attach the band to the glass...and not have it chunky or I then just band, the underside as attractive as the top, but woven in such a way I could measure and get exact lengths...I am so bad at measuring. I also wove a little letter "I" as a signature as this was definitely an original design. I then took E-6000 glue and glued the glass to the band.

Kept it simple. It sits nice on the wrist, doesn't twist or dangle and the totally beaded backing is smooth to the touch. It is always music to my ears when a fellow beader or jewelry maker asks, "How did you do that?"