Michele Goldstein sits in a chair in front of her torch and forms one of her signature heart beads out of bright red glass. Her studio looks a lot like a candy store, with shelves lined with cans full of different, vibrantly colored glass rods—the raw material for her creations. And downstairs, where she puts together her fanciful pieces of jewelry and sculpture, bowls and baskets full of shiny, multicolored beads beckon like the delicacies of a sweet shop. You can almost taste them.
“I get inspiration from everywhere,” she says. “My garden is a huge influence. I love talismanic objects, so I feel like I’m a creator of those kinds of objects. Mexico is a big influence. I love milagros, Day of the Dead … just the colors.”
Color is a big factor in her work. She creates handmade glass beads that incorporate multiple hues with unique designs and textures and specific icons. There is a certain playfulness in her work—a style she describes as a combination of “whimsy and dysfunction.” Her love of color and textures has led her to add felt and waxed linen to her pieces. One necklace features handmade blue glass beads with felted clouds hanging around a blue string.
“Fancier pieces are easier to make than smaller pieces,” Goldstein says of her process. “I think the more materials, the more interesting your work. The more you can pile in, the better.”
Goldstein moved back to Reno after living in Oregon for a number of years and is taking the opportunity to participate in the annual Reno Open Studios this year. Now in its fourth iteration, this year’s event will feature around 42 artists who will open up their studios to the public for an entire weekend. The tour includes artists working in a variety of media, including pottery, painting, fiber, calligraphy, sculpture, papermaking, photography, gourd art, mosaics and printmaking. It’s an opportunity for interested parties to get a glimpse behind the work—to see the how these artists make their art and to perhaps develop a deeper appreciation for the work itself.
“The great thing about doing the studio tour is the idea that the public gets to see the creative process and have a better appreciation of handcrafted things,” Goldstein says. “At an art or craft show, they only view the finished product and don’t get to see the process, and there is something really fun about getting to peek into the studios of working artists and crafts people.”
As a part of this event, Goldstein expects to connect with other creative artists in the community, meet new people, and find a place to sell her work. It’s a rare chance for the public to meet the artists in their space and to connect with the art. Goldstein’s hope is that people will come out to her studio and learn a little bit about lampworking—something she stumbled upon 13 years ago. She always had an interest for making jewelry and, in visiting a glass artist’s studio on a similar tour, realized she could make her own beads with a few tools in order to better create what she was visualizing her work to be. Goldstein bought a torch and a kiln and pretty much taught herself how to use them. She has taken various workshops, led some of her own, and, in doing so, has developed a distinguished style.
“I’m hoping the Reno Open Studios is the first step for the community here to learn about my work,” says Goldstein. “Doing something like this is a good way to let people know I’m here.”