The delicate cobalt-blue glass of the
sun-catcher sparkled, reflecting tiny rays of blue light onto the floor. Inside
the circular glass, a young mother tightly cradled her newborn baby. Only a
bare thread of fishing line held the glass disc in place as it hung from the
frame of the window. Luann Gilliland took the sun-catcher down from the window,
sliding beads from the top of the fishing line to rest against the frame of the
sun-catcher. One by one, she added blue glass beads and pearls to complement the
beauty of the blue glass. "It was like a second part of my brain woke up,"
But the inspiration for her art pieces came
from the simple act of turning one recycled disc, too beautiful to stand alone,
into an elegant sun-catcher. Her talent emerged as she placed beads on the thin
piece of fishing line, one by one. Instead of just the glass reflecting in the
sun, the beads now added a swirl of light to the floor, accenting the cobalt
glass where the young mother held her child closely. "I knew I was drawn to different things made
of colorful glass but for me to actually create it, no, I didn't expect that.
That was an unexpected pleasure," Gilliland says.
The sun-catcher was the first beaded design Gilliland created over 10 years ago. But even before she discovered her beading talent, she found interest in her mother's art. "My mother was artistic, so I was always drawn to whatever project she was working on," says Gilliland. Her mother never created the art Gilliland makes with beads, but she produced other art projects that Gilliland found intriguing. "She never worked with beads, but she boiled marbles and made little pictures and sculptures. She dabbled in something called liquid embroidery which was a pre-cursor to fabric paints, and I helped her those projects," Gilliland remembers.
Before Gilliland experienced her first epiphany with beading, her childhood dream was to work in the field of medicine. When she entered high school, she became aware of the field of medical laboratory technology. She graduated from the College of Steubenville, now known as Franciscan University, in 1974.
She currently works as a medical
technologist in Geisinger's Chemistry Lab--but beading is her relaxation and
inspiration. "When I'm beading, I'm inspired by the sheer beauty of the raw
materials. Once I sit down at my bead table, it's hard for me to get back up." she
Gilliland donates some of her designs to
many organizations, including EOS Riding Center, Bloomsburg High School, St.
Columba Church and several Bloomsburg University organizations. One of her
first donations was with La Leche League. For 12 years, she volunteered her
time as a local La Leche League leader, and also volunteered at both a state
and national level. At one annual conference, she displayed her beadwork for
the first time. "This opportunity gave me confidence that people loved my
beaded designs and were willing to pay for them," Gilliland says.