I took a class with Joy Munshower back in November - which I have to recommend. Cancelled flight, sick students, etc., I was starting to feel like the class was cursed, but it all worked out. I definitely enjoyed it, and it was totally worth it for all the insights into how she makes her beads. She was kind, generous, down-to-earth, and completely prepared and organized (even if the airline wasn't!) If you have a chance - definitely you should take a class with her.
I'm focusing trying to make carousel ponies - I love Joy's work, but don't want to seem imitative, so I'm going for the flamboyant, exaggerated, stylistic carousel horses of the turn of the century. I've long been fascinated with the art of the carousel horse. There was an oh-so-brief moment in history when the fascination with the mechanical and the craft of the artisan stood side by side as equals - and it produced some stunning works of art - IMHO.
Anyway - here is where I am so far - these are shot "hot" before going in the kiln - and I have to say - I like some of them a lot less once they come out. (Damn those kiln fairies.) Also - the failure rate is currently above 50% - some of them are so butt-ugly (not pictured here) that I am actually just throwing them in the garbage - a completely unprecedented move. If it wasn't for wanting the mandrel back - I wouldn't even pull them.
I'm also learning that some colours don't really stay the same after an hour of flashing it in and out of the flame. My favorite so far is CiM Adobe, which, is, of course, discontinued. Figures.
Anyway - it's a process.
Just remember - when someone asks you how long it takes to make a bead, the answer is "time at the torch" + "number of years of practice."