Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ali'i Aniani: The Making of an Exhibition Piece

The necklace and earring set Ali'i Aniani was created for a multi-media juried exhibition at Hui No'eau Visual Art Center. The theme of this six week exhibitiion is: "Primarily Red". Artists were asked "to interpret red literally, figuratively, financially, emotionally, spiritually, chromatically, politically, and socially, etc. in all it’s various forms and create work based on that interpretation." (

For me, creating a new bead or necklace starts with a picture forming very vividly in my mind. In this case I contemplated the theme of the exhibition until that image appeared. Sometimes the finished piece closely matches the inspiration. Sometimes it wanders off in another direction as image is translated to form and the piece takes on a life of its own.

For this exhibition red glass was a must. I had worked with red glass and 24 karat gold leaf before but only slightly and most often I encased the finished beads with clear glass to prevent the gold leaf from burning in the torch. The image that was developing in my mind for this project, however, was simply red glass and gold.

As I created beads with the glass and gold leaf the piece began to not only take on form but feeling as well. Together form and feeling began to suggest a title for the piece. Words like regal and royal floated through my mind but were quickly replaced by Ali'i, the Hawaiian word designating the noble or chiefly class. In today's usage Ali'i is often translated as royal. Commercially we see it used to imply top quality, the best; as in Ali'i Services.

At this point I consulted with my Hawaiian mentor Rachael Kimmel ( We briefly considered Ali'i 'Ahu'ula; the cape or cloak made of feathers and worn only by the noble class. These were traditionally red and yellow trimmed in black with the yellow feathers being more rare and valuable. Hence the all yellow cape of Kamehameha I with its 450,000 feathers. It was Kamehameha I who unified the islands of Hawai'i in 1810. See: for a picture of his cape which now resides in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Be sure to click the link, "Feather Bundles - Kamehameha Cloak.

But a necklace is not a cape or cloak. The colors were right but we rejected Ali'i 'Ahu'ula and settled on Ali'i Aniani; Royal Glass. The title, like the beads, is simple. It has a ring to it and it conveys the feeling that is inherent in the piece.

Getting a matched set of beads requires exactness in color, length and diameter or width. This is always at least a two day process as, once a bead is made, it goes into a kiln to be annealed (tempered) and properly cooled. At that point it is not available to be used for comparison when making the next bead.

I might add here that I'm either a purist or a fool (I like to think the former) in that I do not use the presses and molds that are available to ensure uniformity of size and shape. All of the beads in this piece were made with just a torch to heat the glass to working temperature, a stainless steel rod (mandrel) on which the molten glass is wrapped, and a flat graphite paddle used for shaping.

Because of my late decision to enter the exhibition, the deadline for delivering the finished piece to be juried was looming as I worked on it. Along the way I had encountered delays born of trials and tribulations (mistakes) that challenged my intention and commitment. While several times tempted to give up, in the end this was a wonderful process calling forth perseverance.

Twice I used rods of glass that came from different batches with the result that, once cooled, I had colors that didn't match. After the gold leaf is applied to the already formed bead, the bead needs to be heated just enough to ensure that the gold is well adhered. I also wanted enough heat for the gold to crackle and provide interesting visual patterning and "texture". However, just a bit too much heat and the gold will burn off leaving an ugly black spot.

Because red glass (and orange and yellow too) is black when heated to working temperature color variations and black burn marks can't be seen until the bead has cooled to room temperature. Cooling is a process that takes hours; for me that usually means over night. For both reasons, mismatched glass and burned gold, I had to go back and make more beads: the last time on the morning of the submission deadline! That meant hours of waiting for the beads to cool and then stringing the necklace and making the earrings.

In the end, though, I was happy with what I was delivering the short distance down the road to the Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center. I made it with just over an hour to spare!

Unfortunately, the email arrived today saying that Ali'i Aniani was not accepted for the exhibition. I try to live my life with positive expectations while not, as the old adage goes, counting my chickens before the eggs have hatched. In this case, I must confess I crossed the line. I had no doubt and the disappointment was very real.

I'm left with "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." and "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

The necklace is strung on 19 strand, 24 karat gold plated, stainless wire encased in nylon. This excellent product made by SoftFlex provides exceptional strength while maintaining flexibility. The handmade beads are complemented with hammered gold vermeil beads and red and black Swarovski crystals. The clasp was hand formed from heavy gauge gold fill wire by Leo Norrie (The Maui Bead Shop) and then further modified by me. Ear wires are 14 karat gold fill.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Facebook Contest Winners

Congratulations to the five winners of The Hoffmeyer Collection Facebook Contest. This has been fun for me and I hope it was for you!

To claim your 50% discount, browse my website. You get 1/2 off on anything there. When you have found a piece you would like (for yourself or as a gift) send me a Facebook message or an email and I'll respond with the code you will need to get the discount when ordering. The discount is good until December 15. Please note that most of the pieces on the website are in galleries here on Maui and are subject to prior sale. So, if there is a piece that you really, really like, it is best to order sooner rather than later.

Some facts about the contest:

1. The preselected numbers and the winners who came closest (no one had an exact match):
• #05 ... Dana Hegre entered #6 on September 2 at 1:29 a.m. HST (two people entered #4 but entered later)
• #18 ... Sarah Ing entered #21 on September 8 at 9:26 p.m. HST
• #26 ... Susan Shoshana Cole entered #22 on September 9 at 1:32 a.m. HST
• #32 ... Deborah Welsh entered #36 on September 9 at 11:59 a.m. HST
• #40 ... Katharyn Waterfield entered #42 on September 9 at 4:12 a.m. HST

2. There were eleven entries ... ten women and one man. I guess no surprise here but come on guys, there are great gifts to be had for someone special in your life.

3. The very last person to enter became the 50th fan of The Hoffmeyer Collection and also WON!

4. Entries came from far and wide:
• Makawao, Maui (2)
• Portsmouth, New Hampshire
• Hali'imaile, Maui
• Erie, Colorado
• San Rafael, California
• Sausalito, California
• Taipei, Taiwan
• Portland, Oregon
• Waikapu, Kamalo, Maui
• Kihei, Maui

Thanks to all for playing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Facebook Contest

Facebook Contest Rules
Win 50% Off on any item of your choice on my website (

Here’s How It Works

1. I randomly picked five numbers between one and fifty and have them in safekeeping with a disinterested third party.

2. You go to The Hoffmeyer Collection Page on Facebook, become a fan, and make a comment.

3. You pick a number between 1 and 50. That number is your chance to win.

4. Send a private Facebook message to me that includes your entry number, your email address, and your phone number. The number must be between one and fifty. Only one entry per person, please.

5. Already a fan? No worries, you can still participate. Just do step #3 above, send me the private Facebook message in #4 and you are entered.

6. As soon as I have 50 fans (or October 31, 2009, whichever comes first), I will identify the five people whose numbers matched or came closest to each of the five numbers I randomly picked. These five people are the winners. If there are ties (e.g. more than one person entered a matching number), the first entry received will win. Improve your chances; become a fan now.

7. Winners will receive a 50% discount on any one item of their choice offered on my website ( Discount must be used by December 15, 2009. Winners will be notified and, when they have selected an item, will be given a code to use when ordering to get their discount.

8. Can’t wait to make a purchase? Great! Go ahead and enter, make your purchase now and, if you win, I’ll retroactively apply the discount.

P.S. If you are reading this and we aren’t friends on Facebook yet, do that first. You can search for me on Facebook using Then do steps 2, 3, and 4 above.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Recently I've been fascinated with the combination of pure silver and molten glass. One day that lead to wondering "what if I made a pure white bead and wrapped pure silver wire around it". I'm probably not the first lampworker to try this but I had never seen it done.

I loved the golden hue the glass took on from the silver.

As I made more of these beads qualities of classic beauty which, to me, are simple, clean, understated, occupied my mind and feelings. I began to remember art representing the Greek Goddesses; particularly the Winged Nike of Samothrace, my all-time favorite piece of art. But nike is Greek for victory and that wasn't the quality that this collection of beads was conveying. I finally settled on Aphrodite the goddess of beauty and love as the name for the completed piece. (See Necklace and Earring Sets — NE-115).

From wire I went to silver foil as the combination with pure white glass. Again, the soft golden hue—but different. As I experimented (played) with this combination I became fascinated with the variations; variations that resulted from the relative mix of propane and oxygen in my torch flame, from how hot or cool I worked the glass, from how often I cooled the bead and reintroduced it to the flame. Even humidity seemed to make a difference as I made these beads on different days.

From "what if I made a pure white bead and wrapped pure silver wire around it" has come three necklace and earring sets. All made with just the same two materials—but quite different. (Also see NE-116 and NE-117).

Once again I have realized, Molten glass has its own organic nature and working with it successfully requires that that nature be honored. If I let it, the glass will guide me in a co-creative process. With some creative expression in mind and sufficient technical skill, I can push the limits. However, for the magic of creation to happen, I must remember that the limits are set by the glass itself.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I have no idea where this blog idea will lead. I just know I was inspired, even compelled, to include one on the new website.

For now, I'll start with expressing thanks ...

• to Frank Wolfe for the design and his dedication in creating my new website
• to my wife, Sylvia, for her unflagging support, for her willingness to be honest even when she thinks I might not agree, and most of all for her unconditional love
• to my friend, Denny, for proof reading all of the copy and for spending time checking for glitches and offering feedback.
• to Rachael at Randy Jay Braun ( for her fabulous displays of my jewelry and, especially, for the inspiration she provided to upgrade my presentation ... including changing the name to "The Hoffmeyer Collection"
• to bead artists Judi Belt, Andrea Guarino-Slemmons, and Lara Lutrick (none of whom have I ever met) for the inspiration their work has provided
• to Susan Shahinian for her inspiration and willingness to teach and share technique
• to my first teacher, Marty Meade, for getting me started, for her encouragement, and for always finding beauty even in my first feeble efforts
• to Cynthia Leonard for teaching me the basics of jewelry design and for her collaboration on early pieces
• to my family for their support and encouragement and for even buying some of my stuff
• and last, but not least, to Hot Island Glass on Maui for all of the beautiful art they produce that was the inspiration for me to even try my hand at "melting glass"

Beauty and goodness and positive, willing support surround us ... uniquely wherever we are ... if only we are open and willing to see ... and to accept.

For this first blog I'll end by sharing a bit of beauty captured in Sylvia's garden.

White ginger bloom