Ceramic beads - interview with Vladislav Ivanov and Kremena Ivanova from Golem Design Studio

Golem design studio, pendant

For those of you who are following this blog or my facebook page, know I’m addicted to art beads, especially ceramic beads. And for those who are familiar with my jewelry know a lot of times a whimsical bead or pendant from Golem Design Studio finds its way into it.
So you can imagine I’m thrilled that the lovely couple Vladislav Ivanov and Kremena Ivanova  agreed to do this month’s interview.




Q: In an earlier interview with Michelle Mach (Beadwork juni/juli 2012) you told her you both worked as teachers before starting Golem Design Studio’s. You quit your job in 2000 and your wife Kremena in 2001. Why did you choose ceramic as your media and why making beads?
A: From my early school years I loved to make small things from clay and plasticine; and later on wax, which was probably my absolute favorite.  In high school I was studying wood carving for 2 years, so I became pretty familiar with the basic carving techniques and tools. At the same time my fascination with history and especially, with archaeological artifacts was growing with each visit to an archaeological site or museum.
Another completely different interest of mine was chemistry.  Mostly because I was charmed by the magic of fire. The almost magical high temperature reactions between the metals and non-metal elements still fascinate me. My last 2 years in high school were dominated by hesitation about what I wanted to do, what kind of career I should start working on?  I suppose this sounds pretty familiar for most of you :-)
In 1989, after I finished high school, I finally made a decision and started studying education at the Veliko Tarnovo University, bearing in mind that there was a sub department “Fine and Applied Arts”.  At the same time, I started my own research and experiments in the area of reproduction of archaeological artifacts from different epochs, using different materials and techniques.

Golem Design Studio ceramic arrowhead pendantCan you guess what I found waiting for me on the crossroad between the art history and chemistry during this researches? Yes, you are right – the ceramic art, with all the unlimited shaping and decorating techniques, the different clays and unlimited palette of colors, the excitement of opening each kiln firing and the promises for even greater miracles in the next one.
After I finished my MA in Pedagogic, Fine and Applied Arts in 1994 I started work as a teacher in the primary school. Teaching had its great moments, and it had its bad ones, but it was far from satisfying for me. My desire for independence was also inspired by the traditions in my family, especially the ones that come from my mother's side. They were craftsmen for centuries – black smiths, carpenters, wood carvers, silversmiths. My Grandfather was a very skilled blacksmith and carpenter. So maybe my passion for creating a life based on things you make with your own hands came from there. I quit my job as teacher in the year 2000, and up to now I'm a full time self-employed artist. It looks like my ceramic "passion" was very "infectious" - my wife Kremena got the "clay bug" from me soon after we married, she started making pots and other objects in 1997 - 1998, and in the year 2001 she ended her teaching career too.  That was the official beginning of "Golem Design Studio.

Golem design studio handmade ceramic daisy pendant

Q: Are you self-taught?
A: Pretty much. I was apprentice in the studio of some big scale potter for one year, in 1998-1999, but we was making large pots and dishes there, nothing related to beads.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about the early days of Golem Design Studio?
A: Here is our almost official “Business history” :-)
Up to 2002 our studio was split between the basement and the dining room a.k.a. “Studio
room” at that time. The prize from the Bulgarian American Enterprise Fund” competition together with some bank loan was fully invested in the building of a real studio, attached to our house. We put a lot of work and efforts in this project, so finally in the late autumn of 2002 we was able to move in the studio which really increased our productivity and possibilities. Currently we have one big studio room, around 320 square feet where we are spending most of the days, and attached to it a smaller kiln room where we fire the ready items.

Golem Design Studio, handmade ceramic flower pendant

Some more history - How the brand “Golem” started:
In the year 2000  I won third prize in a competition called “Best Young Developer of the
year”, organized by the Bulgarian American Enterprise Fund.
At the final stage of the competition each participant as part of the presentation of the project should present the brand name for the business that they are starting. I was running out of time, there was just few hours for brainstorming about the name. I was trying really hard to figure what name will work best for us. Even with almost 0 business experience at this time I understood that once you start developing some brand name it's really important five or more years later this name still works good for your business. At the end of the evening I remembered the legend about the Golem of Prague. According to the legend the Golem was an artificial clay man, made by the Rabbi Yehuda Leow Bezalel. This clay man was a servant to his creator until one day he suddenly stopped being obedient to his master. There are few different versions about the reason why this happened. He became a rebel and devastated half of the town Prague, which was at the time the capital of the Bohemian kingdom. According to the legend all this happened in the sixteenth century. What we liked about this story was the idea that the fate of human creations does not lie in the hands of its creator, and in the end, it is about a guy made of CLAY - our favourite media. So we chose him for our name. The logo was created little bit later by our good friend Petar Boychev.
We still like the name and the logo after so many years, so look like that rush brainstorming worth the efforts :-)

Golem Design Studio, handmade ceramic pendant

Q: What inspires you in your work?
A: Living in Bulgaria, the crossroad between Europe and Asia we have developed eclectic
interests and tastes, which are reflected in each of our creations.

Golem design studio, handmade ceramic pendant, Istanbul

Although most of our work cannot be associated directly with any specific national tradition or style, we incorporate patterns taken from a variety of ancient and contemporary art forms. We find our inspiration from different parts of the world and ages.
Traveling is our favorite way to spent our time and money, but we are also trying to get some small bit from each travel to incorporate into some of our pieces.

The visits in Istanbul for example was resulted by this pendant together with few else:


Probably the most inspiring place that we ever visited is the town of Barcelona, Spain. It's a real heaven for any artist, especially for the ceramic artists. Our visits there ended in a whole category of pendants. Here are some examples:

Golem design studio, inspiration in BarcelonaGolem design studio, inspiration from Barcelona












Q: You told me that since a couple of years most beads are designed by Kremena. Does each of you have his/her own tasks while making the beads?
A: The things in the studio really changed in the last few years – Kremena is the current leading designer at Golem Design Studio. Since I'm her teacher in carving and the other techniques, I'm really proud of my student :-). Currently I'm the one in charge for all the technical and marketing stuff: tools, equipment, supplies, orders and work schedules, website updates, everything needed for the non stop work in the studio. Also I'm the “sales person” most of the time - I'm in charge for the clients/sales in USA and EU. This doesn't mean that I'm not making beads anymore of course, it just means I'm spending now only half of my work day playing with clay.
Usually we are working in the studio side by side, splitting the tasks needed for the current project between us. We are full time working-at-home bead artists – our work day starts around 8 – 8.30 a.m. We are trying to be in the studio as early as possible and our work day ends based on how busy we are with the orders, usually between 6 and 7 p.m. Usually I'm spending the evenings at the computer, working on the website, answering emails and so, taking care for all the online activity and paper work.

Golem design studio, handmade ceramic daisy beads

Q: I understand a single bead can take anywhere between six to thirty minutes to complete, depending upon the complexity. Can you tell me a bit about the work involved in making a bead.
A: Below are the links to some online tutorials that I created some time ago, they show some details about each of the different stages of our producing process:
In general all of our beads, pendants and cabochons are first hand shaped:
1. Changing the world - one bead at a time (How to make simple round bead)

Next stage for most of them is the hand carving of the design:
2. Birth of a ladybug (Hand carving process – tools and techniques)

After the drying all the items go in the kiln for the first firing, also known as “Bisque fire”, after it they are ready for glazing:
3. Glazing of solid color and carved beads with opaque glazes (pictures and video tutorial)

Once the items are glazed they should be fired so the glazes melt and show their color. This second firing is known as “Glaze firing”
4. Kiln Tetris (Glaze firing of ceramic beads and pendants)

Here you can find some video tutorials:
Daisy Lentil Bead - Part 1 (Petals):

Daisy Lentil Bead - Part 2 (Middle of the flower):

Daisy Lentil Bead - Part 3 (Background):

And this is what it looks like when ready:

Golem Design Studio, daisy bead
Glazing of a Solid Color Bead

Q: Both of you had a career as a teacher. Do you consider giving workshops in making beads a possibility in the future?
A: Actually yes, probably we will give it a try some day. My plan is actually a bit more ambitious – ceramic art workshop here in Bulgaria for small group of students (probably no more than 10), combined with introducing them to some of the Bulgarian cultural heritage, and sweetened with some culinary adventures, probably a vine testing or something like that. Sounds like fun to me, now need to find some time to try to organize it. Another option is to be a guest teacher somewhere, I'm open for such projects too.

Q: Are you planning to explore other materials as well in the future, like polymer clay or glass?
A: We are very interested in the glass and the metals, so if we'll start playing someday with other materials I suppose this will be the first choices.

Golem design studio, winner 2014

Q: There are a lot of bead and jewelry artists. Is there a particular artist you admire or who you consider a role model?
A: There are many very talented bead artists. I'll mention just few names, but the list is really not limited to just this ones: Joan Miler, Melanie Brooks, Marsha Hedrick and Lisa Peters.

Q: If you were not a bead artist, what would you be doing?
A: Mad Scientist? Or more likely field archeologist. Who knows?

You can buy Golem Design Studio’s beautiful beads here through their website.
Golem Design Studio also has a facebook page as well as a blog were you can find the latest news.

And of course this interview would not be complete without a give-away.

Give-away 1

Vladislav and Kremena are very generous and offer a very generous gift voucher for $25, to be used in their shop.

 Golem design studio, gift certicate

Give-away 2

In just a short period I was able to hoard quite a few beads of Golem Design Studio. And this is what I made with some of them. The first bracelet has been published in 101 Bracelets, Necklaces and earrings, issue 2014.
The winner can choose from these three bracelets:

Esfera jewelry, handmade unique bracelet with artisan beads

Esfera jewelry, handmade mixed media bracelet with golem design studio

Esfera jewelry, artisan bracelet with golem design studio

How can you enter this give-away?

Very simple, all you have to do to enter is comment on this post, to get a change to win one of these give-aways.

There are lots of ways you can increase your chances of winning too...

Do any of the following and leave an additional comment each time and you will get an extra entry for each one (yes you will enhance your changes of winning, so please do):

·    Share this give-away on your own blog
·    Share this give-away on your Facebook pages, Google+, Twitter etc.
·    Subscribe to my newsletter (see top of page, to the right hand side)
·    Subscribe to my email-list (to receive special promotions)
.    Follow to the blog of Golem Design Studio
·    Become a follower of my facebook page
·    Become a follower of the facebook page of Golem Design Studio
·    Follow me on Pinterest
.    Follow me on google+
·    Like my Etsy shop
·    Anything else you can think of to spread the word.

Don't forget to leave a separate comment for each method to maximize your chances though!

Please don't let the captcha scare you off. It is to prevent the spam robots enter this give-away as well.

The draw will close at 10am GMT on Sunday October 19, 2014 and I will randomly select and announce the winners later that day.

The next artist in this series of interviews with Bead Artists is......going to be a surprise!

Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope to see you next time.



such beautiful beads! I love the bracelets you've made with them too

I've been following Golem's

I've been following Golem's blog for some time now. Okay that does it for me and my entries. Thanks so much for sharing and letting me participate in this awesome giveaway!

Now following you on Facebook

Now following you on Facebook

I so liked your Etsy Shop!!!!

I so liked your Etsy Shop!!!!

Now following your designs on

Now following your designs on Pinterest

Signed up to receive your

Signed up to receive your e-mails!

I have been following Golem

I have been following Golem on FB. Looking forward to the buttons they showed being available.

I had been curious....

I had been curious.... knowing a bit about the story of Golem..I had wondered why they had selected the name.This was a very very through and interesting interview.

Golem fb fan

Golem fb fan

Fb fan

Fb fan

So wonderful!

So wonderful!

Following Golem's facebook

Following Golem's facebook page

Following your facebook page.

Following your facebook page.

shared on Google+ as DESPINA

shared on Google+ as DESPINA VENETI

shared on

shared on Twitter:

shared on

shared on Pinterest:

Subscribed to your email-list

Subscribed to your email-list

I like your Etsy shop as

I like your Etsy shop as DESPINA VNT

I follow you on Pinterest as

I follow you on Pinterest as DESPINA VNT

I follow you on Google+ as

I follow you on Google+ as DESPINA VENETI

I follow you on FB as Despina

I follow you on FB as Despina Vnt

I follow Golem Design Studio

I follow Golem Design Studio on FB as Despina Vnt

Happy newsletter subscriber!

Happy newsletter subscriber!

Another greatb interview, and

Another greatb interview, and gorgeous work!
I'd be absolutely THRILLED with ANY of the prizes!

Excellent interview, can't

Excellent interview, can't wait to see Golem at South Jersey Bead Society in January!

Golem Giveaway

Following on Pinterest too!

Golem Giveaway

Fantastic post! I love your blog and Golem beads it's a win-win! I already subscribe to your newsletter! I hope that counts for an extra entry because I want to WIN!!!!!


Esfera Etsy shop

I already had your Etsy shop as a favorite. I love your jewellery. Thank you for the interview too.


I am already following you on Pinterest.

Golem blog

I am now following Golem Design Studio blog with bloglovin.


I've shared this interview and giveaway on my own blog which is acbeads.blogspot.com


I love Golem Design Studio beads.

I am now following you on

I am now following you on Pinterest :)

Already had your Etsy shop a

Already had your Etsy shop a a favorite :)

Already a Golem FB follower

Already a Golem FB follower :)

Already your FB follower :)

Already your FB follower :)


Shared https://plus.google.com/u/0/

Love Golem!

I have always loved Golem... thanks for featuring and for your giveaways :)

Fantastic interview and the

Fantastic interview and the videos were fascinating to watch. What a huge amount of work goes into each bead. Thank you so much for this. Loved reading all about their processes.


I pinned this interview.

Golem Studio

I'm a fan of Golem Studio. I enjoyed reading your interview. Thanks.


I'm following the Facebook page for Golem Studio


I'm following the blog of Golem Studio. thanks for the intro.


Love these beads and it's fascinating to see the process of making them! Great interview....I'm following and sharing.


Started following you on Google+. I don't think I followed you there before, but in any case my Google+ recently erased most things, so I'm glad to start following you or add you back in.

Golem FB follower

I just became a follower of Golem Design Studio on Facebook. Don't know how I overlooked doing that before. That's another great benefit of these interviews. Now I won't miss out on any of their new things.

Great interview

I loved reading about this team and how they make their beautiful beads and run their business. I especially liked the story of choosing the business name. I had recently read that legend in a book!

I shared on

I shared on Pinterest


I follow Golem Beads on

I follow Golem Beads on Facebook as Shaiha Williams.

I follow your facebook page

I follow your facebook page as Shaiha Williams

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