Beach Memories’ creator Michele Krempa earned the prestigious Judge’s Choice award at the Art X Art Festival in Ocean City, Maryland, for her steel-and-glass octopus entitled Tenti-Cool. The triptych form piece — meaning three separate panels form the art — incorporates fused glass fabricated in her gallery’s kilns with intricate tentacles 2 to 2½ feet long in shades of blue. The glass is mounted at varying levels on burnished steel plates, resulting in an eye-catching multimedia piece that won judges’ attention.
“We broke one of the tentacles two days before the show and had to remake it, and they are quite time-consuming,” Krempa says of the last-minute drama, though the detailed craftsmanship is part of what she loves about working with glass.
Krempa began making lampworking beads 21 years ago after deciding to design her own for jewelry. She took a course, bought the supplies including a kiln and torch, and started producing beads, which she sells to other jewelry makers and wholesale. Her Beach Memories line encapsulates sand inside Murano glass beads, customizing beads for shops based on their location. Owners send the sand and Krempa gets to work.
Beach Memories Glass Gallery sells other works by American artists along with Krempa’s jewelry and decor. There are two fulltime beadmakers on staff, and it’s the largest lampwork glass bead manufacturer in the country, Krempa says.
“I’m looking forward to expanding the glass studio,” Krempa says, adding that she currently produces cold, warm and hot glass works and is considering working with blown glass. “That will show the public all the different ways you can work with glass.”