Always at home in a crafty setting, Nolly Gelsinger has been playing with art since childhood. Scrunching up aluminum foil to make plaster casts of toy horses and dolls is one memorable adventure. Mashing polk berries for ink is another. Art can be messy.
While searching out beads for stringing on ebay, Nolly first saw original glass beads for sale. Beadmaking was revived in America in the 1980’s completely from scratch. The original beadmakers in the movement studied ancient beads and began to think about how they might have been made. Using available technology, acetylene torches and stained glass, these pioneers got together over an infant internet to share failures and successes.
By 2002, when Nolly took her first class, torches were better—hotter and easier to control—and kilns to cool the glass had digital controllers so that they didn’t have to be manually turned down every hour. Beautiful glass was available from Italy that reacted well to the flame. The Italians had been using flame to make beads for generations—but they kept their methods secret. A beginner class with Mary Klotz in Woodsboro, Maryland was the first step on a road that Gelsinger still travels with great happiness and enthusiasm.
Gelsinger’s glass jewelry designs have been included juried exhibits in the US and in Japan.. She has taught beadmaking at the ISGB* annual conference, Common Ground on the Hill in Westminster, MD and at The Glass Resort in Frederick, MD. Her beads are available at bead shows on the east coast and online; she sells her finished jewelry at Off Track Art in Westminster, MD and regional juried craft shows.
Along the artistic path, Gelsinger has found opportunities to help other artists through volunteering with the ISGB as a regional director and board member, VP of Mid-Atlantic Glass & Fire (a regional glass group), creating and running a pop-up art market for the City of Westminster, and as the recording member of the Downtown Westminster Coalition which seeks to bolster business small business in Westminster.
*International Society of Glass Beadmakers, www.isgb.com