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Connie Pollard no longer melts glass

The magic of glass, by Allison Dahlgren
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The magic of glass, by Allison Dahlgren
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More "Frida" bead necklaces by Connie Pollard
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The following article was published in November, 2005, in Community Magazines Gift Guide.

     The film industry and beads have much in common in the mind of artist Connie Pollard. She has drawn upon themes and art for inspiration from cinematic classics such as Frida and the score from Arthur, Caught between the Moon and New York City.
     Pollard is a master of glass art who has achieved national note. She offers here holiday suggestions of post earrings, or flower and leaf pendants tied with a ribbon around the neck.
     In Pollard's view, jewelry lovers find themselves yearning for a unique twist on the style to set themselves apart from the masses. She describes her glass creations as "bold and expressive," and they are sure to make heads turn and hearts yearn.
     Her work has acheived national recognition in the book 1000 Glass Beads that features Pollard's work, and a glass bead abacus is on display in the Bead Museum in Washington, DC, in a show entitled "The Eternal Bead." It runs through March 2006. Photos of her necklaces and buttons have been published in two jewelry magazines in 2003. Currently, her work is on show at Arts Afire Glass Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia.
     A creative soul, Pollard has always enjoyed sewing, making crafts and cooking. She found that a creative outlet made her days more pleasant and fulfilling while studying for a graduate degree. Pollard decided to focus on beadwork.
     "Beads were portable and appealing, and their history of use by humans, stretching back at least 70,000 years, fascinates me," she said. She started melting glass and making her own beads and other glass objects in 1995. Pollard also made and sold knobs for drawers and cabinets, as well as tiny glass vessels and buttons.
     Pollard's first inspiration was color. "My earliest memory of glass was encountering a Venetian paperweight with millifiore designs in my grandmother's living room," she said. After that, it was the exquisite color designs created by sun shining through stained glass that captured her fancy.
     "Glass, as a material, has long fascinated me. So when I learned that I could melt it and make small objects from it at home, I was most pleased," she said. "I learned to melt glass so that I could create my own millifiore designs, and I have been doing that for ten years. Along the way, other design possibilities have presented themselves, and this point, I still have not tried all of the ideas I have thought of."
     As of the moment, Pollard is starting a new project: breaking out of the round bead shape. She wants to make more sculptured objects, like flowers and leaves. In October, she took a class on using glass to make shapes from nature, which has inevitably improved her ability beyond the oval. 
     A large portion of Pollard's collection is dedicated to the movie Frida. "I was struck by the 'chunky chokers' of pre-Columbian jade, turquoise, etc., that the character Frida was wearing," she said. "I was equally influenced by the imagination of the director of the movie, Julie Taymor, a Newton native.Some of the scenes in the movie were magical with collage and humans flying through the air. My jewelry became a mixture of the magic of Taymor, the boldness of the Mexican esthetic and the dauntless and indomitable spirit of the real Frida Kahlo." The jewelry she created imitated her ideal of the woman who could transcend all sorts of bounds, "who refuses to be bound to the ground."
     Another movie provided the inspiration for Pollard's work, although less directly. A line from the theme from the movie Arthur, Caught between the Moon and New York City, was the inspiration for a series of jewelry made with dichroic glass which "has glitz and sparkle." Although she hadn't seen the movie, the line captivated her to express the idea through her jewelry.
     Pollard has lived in Brookline since 1971 and raised two children in the area. While they were growing up, she worked at what she calls "cottage industries," making soft toys to be sold in the Christmas Store in Cambridge. After a short period of time catering and making wedding cakes, Pollard returned to school to study for her masters in social work and has worked in the field for almost 15 years.
     In her spare time, Pollard attends bead shows around the country. Along with the vast array of old and new beads from around the world, she enjoys talking to her customers. "One of the pleasures of these shows is when repeat customers come back to show off necklaces or bracelets they designed around my bead or beads in ways that would never have entered my imagination," she said.
     Her current favorites are two necklaces that both feature her signature millifore beads. "One is strung with old coral beads, and the other is strung with turquoise nuggets.And then there is the necklace with a 'goddess' bead (part of a female torso) which is strung with some of my favorite 'bought' beads, some made by artists whon I have met," she said.

Newton Magazine and Brookline Magazine