W. BRAD PEARSON teaching at the third degree glass center in St. Louis, 2011. Photograph by Marilyn Roberts.

W. Brad Pearson




A glass beadmaker who came to the craft via a winding path, W. Brad Pearson set out to become a furniture designer until an elective glassblowing class at Virginia Commonwealth University changed his course. Today, Pearson creates his lampworked glass beads, marbles and sculptures from his studio in Richmond, Virginia, exploring notions of pattern, repetition and color. His works and career reveal a multidisciplinary background, including a stint as a scientific glassblower, owning his own glassblowing studio, as well as efforts in publishing and teaching courses throughout the country.


Tell us a little about your first introduction to glass, and how it became your profession.

I was a second-year student at Virginia Commonwealth University newly enrolled in the Crafts Department. I was on track to become a furniture design major and took glassblowing as an elective. The heat and excitement of forming molten glass had a much stronger appeal than the careful measuring, sanding and finishing of woodworking. I quickly changed my focus and never looked back. I was hooked from the first time I made a lumpy paperweight out of glass.


How would you describe your work?

I am fascinated by pattern and repetition. I love exploring the cultural and social impact of color and design. Pattern can be found in every culture throughout history, and decorating a huge variety of objects. The human need to create order out of chaos, using a few artist materials in front of you, is a challenge that I do not think I will ever tire of.


Were you always interested in creating wearable works?

To be honest, creating jewelry is not my final goal. I am really into creating interesting beads. Much in the same way a glassblower will work on interesting vases, not really expecting someone to put flowers in it and place it on the dining room table. The bead itself is the end goal. The beads themselves are nothing more than a framework to explore design. I do try to keep the beads in a scale that will allow them to be functional, if the purchaser chooses.



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