Saturday, October 18, 2014

Denise Walker Billups

This is my friend Denise.  She's the current President of the Southeastern Michigan Beadmakers Guild - SMBG - or better known around the beading world as Glass Act.   She's an exceptional artist and person.  I've listed her blog on my blog list to the right but incase you'd like a direct link it's Fire Dance Lampwork Beads and Jewelry.

Look at that great sculpture she did at the front of her booth - The fish.  It's incredible, right?  Extremely original - I've never seen anyone do a large fish before.  She's taken a technique and has just run with it. 

Denise Walker Billups

Let me tell you about my bud - and her buds, and maybe the entire membership.  I could but it would take a long long time.  First off, if you know me well - REALLY well - you'd know that two of my favorite T-shirts read, "Born in Detroit" and "I've Got a Friend in Detroit".  I'm the child of (and I say this in the most lovingly of ways) a factory rat.  A big factory rat since he was the afternoon shift plant manager at Budd Wheel (long absorbed by another company).  He came up through the ranks, including the union, and too many broken noses to count.  So I am a died in the wool, born in the womb (and the city) girl of Detroit. 

You're going to ask me what the &0%4&2!!! that has to do with my friend Denise.  Well, it's actually got a lot to do with all of those members of the SMBG.  About 30+ years ago my life took me from the Detroit area to "Up North".  It's a great place to raise kids but gheeze's not exactly a haven for someone who would prefer to investigate an abandoned building or an alley than bushwhack a path through the woods.   I got "cabin fever" a lot (a whole lot) - LOL.  That is a mild label for wanting to pull your hair out by the roots because all the things that normally keep you sane besides your husband and family are all 3.5 hard expressway hours away.  I took that cabin fever hard.  I started traveling back and forth to the Detroit area whenever I could - to see my Mom and take in as much creativity as I could on each trip. 

I'd immerse myself in that city inspiration while I was there.  I really missed the culture of Detroit.  Yes, there IS culture in Detroit.  Tons of it.   I'd take weekend classes down there whenever I could.   I wish I could remember the first time my glass work took me into the view of those wonderful people at Glass Act.  I simply don't know.  What I can say is that Denise, Joy Cichewicz, and Kathleen Robinson Young took me under their protective wings and welcomed me as if I still lived close by.  They introduced to so many people - Candy, Karen, Anita, Cindi, Whitney, Sylvis, Susan, and a list of names that borders on remarkable.  They were ALL nice, all friendly, tight knit but not so tight as to be a clique or as to exclude anyone.  Us "anyone's" were welcome and quickly knitted right into the group.   No matter how little or how much I get to see my friends from SMBG they are steadfast, kind, welcoming, and talented as hell - just the way they were when I saw them last.  It's like a day past is the same as a month, or six months.  We pick up where we left off.    Now personally I've belonged to several and still belong to several artististic groups.  If they could only bottle what this group has there would be successful organizations everywhere.....if only.

I wanted to let you known how I had the pleasure of getting to know one of my favorite lampworkers and friends.

Denise and several of our peers have also formed a group called the Fire Foxes.  They had the booth behind Susan Lambert and I at the Great Lakes Bead Show.  What a great time.  Susan Meyer Hatch stopped by, Anita Pepper, Karen Richards, Annie and her mother - fabulous bead makers one and all.  You can catch the Fire Foxes at some of the Beadfests too. 

Thanks Denise - for helping this "fish outta city water" always feel like she's home again....

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