Kristen's handmade glass beads blend her love of nature with her background as a watercolor artist. A single bead can take hours to make, as she draws and sculpts with molten glass over the flame of an oxygen-propane torch. To add detail to her work, she makes special canes from multiple colors of glass, and by combining these component parts with layers of transparent colors, she creates depth and captures an exciting play of light.
After the beads have been annealed in a kiln to remove any internal stress, Kristen blends them into unique jewelry designs. This process, she says, is like framing a painting, giving the beads a beautiful setting as wearable art.
For some of her jewelry pieces, she crochets spheres of fine silver, copper or niobium wire. By stringing tiny seed beads onto the wire, she creates beaded-crocheted wire beads that resemble granulated gold.
Kristen's work is in collections throughout the U.S., and in Japan, England, South Africa and Australia. Her work has been published in the books Making Glass Beads, by Cindy Jenkins; Bead Art, by Alice Korach; and The Society of Glass Beadmakers Exhibition Catalog from the Contemporary Glass Bead and Jewelry Show at the Rockwell Museum, Corning, NY; and in the magazines Lapidary Journal, Ornament, Beadwork and GLASS.
Kristen has a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno. She worked for several newspapers before deciding she "wanted out of the rat race." She painted in watercolors for a number of years, and enjoyed a successful solo exhibit of her work at the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko. After moving to Arizona in 1979, she "took some classes in pottery, stayed with that for a while, and then got hooked on calligraphy." She was a calligraphy instructor at Mesa Arts Center for eleven years. At that time, she was also doing pencil illustrations of dogs. Her canine illustrations appeared in the American Kennel Club's Pure-Bred Dogs Gazette magazine, and as covers for two issues of the Corgi Quarterly magazine. She produced notecards and t-shirts with her illustrations of Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and to expand her corgi line to include jewelry, she began taking metals classes. That led to looking for unique beads to use in some of the jewelry, and that in turn led to her pursuit of glass beadmaking.
Kristen says, "I think that with glass, I have finally found the perfect medium! I had a feeling of 'coming home' when I discovered I could use watercolor techniques of layering transparent colors to create depth and draw the viewer into my pieces. Making beads from molten glass gives me an opportunity to capture light and reflect it. When I am working at the torch, I become centered and my mind switches over to a quiet place where I can express feelings that are too deep for words. Beads are personal and intimate, both for me as an artist, and for the person who wears them."
Women Artists of the Great Basin, by Mary Lee Fulkerson, University of Nevada Press, 2017
Inspiration in Glass, by Tanja Ostwald, 2015
Artistic Seed Bead Jewelry, by Maggie Roschyk, Kalmbach Books, 2011
Art Jewelry Today 3, by Jeffrey B. Snyder, Schiffer Publ., 2011
Masters-Glass Beads: Major Works by Leading Artists, Lark Books, 2008
Art Jewelry Today 2, by Jeffrey B. Snyder, Schiffer Publ., 2008
Metamorphosis: the Life Cycle of a Glass Bead, exhibit catalog, International Society of Glass Beadmakers, 2007
100 Lampworkers, Yoshiko Shiiba, Japan Lampwork Society, 2006
Trajectories: Progressions in Contemporary Art Glass Beads, exhibit catalog, International Society of Glass Beadmakers, 2006
Beads of Glass: the Art and the Artists, by Cindy Jenkins, Pyro Press, 2003
1000 Glass Beads: Innovation and Imagination in Contemporary Glass Beadmaking, Lark Books, 2004
500 Beaded Objects: New Dimensions in Contemporary Beadwork, Lark Books, 2004
Art Jewelry Today, by Dona Z. Meilach, Schiffer Publ., 2003
Formed of Fire, by Bandhu Scott Dunham, 2002.
Contemporary Lampworking, by Bandhu Scott Dunham, 3rd edition, 2002.
Making Beautiful Beads, by Suzanne Tourtillot (Sterling/Lark, 2002)
Making Glass Beads, by Cindy Jenkins (Lark Books, 1997
Bead Art, edited by Alice Korach (Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1998)
Contemporary Glass Beads and Jewelry (The Society of Glass Beadmakers, 1998)
More than You Ever Wanted to Know about Glass Beadmaking, by James Kervin
(Glasswear Studios, revised edition 1999)
Beadwork in America 2000, exhibit catalog (Nebraska Art Assn., 2000)
Fantastic Beads, exhibit catalog (Yeiser Art Center, Kentucky, 2000)
Bead & Button, Feb. 2008, issue 83
Step by Step Beads, Vol. 1, No. 3, Fall 2003
Lammaga, Vol. 1, 2007
Beadwork, Aug.-Sept. 2001, "Focus on Glass."
Lapidary Journal, Vol. 53, No. 11, Feb. 2000, p. 32, 34.
Lapidary Journal/Bead Annual, Vol. 53, No. 7. Oct. 1999, p. 121.
Lapidary Journal/Bead Annual, Vol. 52, No. 7, Oct. 1998,
"Drawing With Glass," (profile of Kristen Frantzen Orr) by Pamela Selbert.
"Lampworked Floral Globe Bead," by Kristen Frantzen Orr & David Orr.
Lapidary Journal, Vol. 52, No. 1, April 1998,
"Breaking the Bead Barrier," by Jennifer Whitlock.
Lapidary Journal/Bead Annual, Vol. 51, No. 7, Oct. 1997,
"The Crash of Metal and Glass," by Nina Cooper.
Ornament, Vol. 21, No. 4, Summer 1998, "News."
GLASS: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly, Number 73, Winter 1998,
"Ancient Techniques in Contemporary Glass Beads," by Robert K. Liu.
Juried Pendant Show, International Society of Glass Beadmakers, 2010, 2011
Convergence 1 (2009) and 2 (2010), juried, InternationalSociety of Glass Beadmakers
Perspectives, juried traveling exhibit, International Society of Glass Beadmakers
(Tempest, glass bead invitational, Creative Glass, Zurich, Switzerland (2009) Stourbridge, Great Britain (2008)
Masters Glass Bead Exhibit, invitational, Kobe Lampwork Glass Museum, Japan, 2008
2008, Kristen Frantzen Orr Glass Beads exhibit, Japan, Hana Gallery, ArtBox Gallery, Kinari Gallery
It’s All About Beads, glass bead invitational, Pismo Glass Gallery, Denver, CO, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Bulles de Perles invitational exhibit, Musee–atelier du Verre, a Sars–Poteries, France, 2007
Metamorphosis: The Life Cycle of a Glass Bead, juried, International Society of Glass Beadmakers, 2007
Trajectories: Progressions in Contemporary Glass Beads, juried traveling exhibit, International Society of Glass Beadmakers, 2006, 2007
Glass Jewels, invitational, Glass Gallery Aldebaran, Tokyo, Japan, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
The Japan Lampwork Festival, invitational exhibitions: Nagahama, 2000; Nara, 2001; Azumino, 2003; Matsushima, 2004; Kobe, 2005; Nagara, 2006
Obsession, juried traveling exhibit, International Society of Glass Beadmakers, 2002.
Contemporary Torchworking 2002, juried, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Feb.-March, 2002.
Lampwork Festival, Japan, invitational exhibit, Dec. 2001.
The Beautiful Bead, juried, Symmetry Gallery, Saratogo Springs, NY, 2001, 2002.
Fantasies in Glass, juried, Loveland, CO, Art Museum, May-July 2001.
Focus on Glass: the Challenge, juried, Gallery East, Loveland, CO, May 2001.
Crossroads of the Desert: Intersections of Time and Place, juried, Tohono Chul, Tucson, AZ, March-May 2001
The Lampwork Festival, Japan, invitational traveling bead exhibition, 2000-2001.
The Beautiful Bead, invitational, Symmetry Gallery, Saratogo Springs, NY, Sept.-Oct.,2000.
The Shape of Things to Come, juried PRO ARTS Gallery, Oakland, CA, Aug., 2000.
California Dreamin' juried jewelry show, Christensen-Heller Gallery, Oakland, Aug. - Sept. 2000.
When It Melts, It Pours, juried glass exhibit, Shemer Art Center, Phoenix, AZ, April 2000.
Garden Show, juried, Brooklyn Artisans Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, April 2000.
Fantastic Beads, juried, Yeiser Art Center, Paducah, KY, March 12-April 22, 2000.
Beadwork in America 2000, invitational, Haydon Gallery, Lincoln, NB, Feb. 2000, Hastings college Art Gallery, Hastings, NB, March 2000.
Bohemia to America, 20th Century Glass Beads, invitational, The Bead Center, Washington, D.C., Oct. 1999-Jan. 2000.
Arizona Designer Craftsmen juried show, West Valley Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ, Nov. 1999- Jan.,2000.
The Beautiful Bead, invitational, Symmetry Gallery, Saratogo Springs, NY, Sept.-Oct., 1999.
Glass Jewelry Invitational, Kittrell Riffkind Art Glass, Dallas, TX, Oct. - Nov., 1999.
Designer Showcase, juried, Mind's Eye Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ May 13-June 7, 1999.
Reflections, juried, Scottsdale (AZ) Museum of Contemporary Art, May 13-June 6, 1999.
Recollection and Recognition, Arizona Designer Craftsmen, juried, Shemer Arts Center, Phoenix, AZ, March - April, 1999; Phoenix International Airport, 2000.
Essentially Beads, invitational exhibit, Tempe, AZ Arts Center, Sept. - Nov., 1997.
Winchester Community Center, Las Vegas, NV, Aug. - Oct., 1998.
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum, Wausau, WI, Oct. '98 - Jan. 1999.
Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ, Jan. - Feb., 1999.
Contemporary Glass Bead and Jewelry Show, juried,
Rockwell Museum, Corning, NY, May - June, 1998.
Abington Art Center, Jenkintown, PA, Sept. - Nov., 1998
Glass Jewelry Invitational, Kittrell Riffkind Art Glass, Dallas, TX, Oct. - Nov., 1998; Oct. - Nov. 1999.
Lampworked Glass Bead Exhibit, invitational, Ariodante Gallery, New Orleans, LA, Nov. 1998.
Broadfield House Glass Museum - American Glass Beadmakers exhibit, invitational, coordinated by Kate Drew-Wilkinson, fall 1998
Beadworks, juried, The Dairy Barn, Southeastern Ohio Cultural Arts Center, May - Sept., 1998.
A Tradition of Excellence, Arizona Designer Craftsmen, juried, Tubac AZ Center of the Arts, March - April, 1998.
Scintilla '98, The Best of American Glass Beadmakers, invitational, Beadworks, Boston, MA, March - May, 1998.
The Crash of Metal and Glass, juried, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Univ. of New Mexico, Aug. 1997- Jan., 1998.
National Contemporary Art Glass Bead Show, invitational, Beadworks, Boston, MA, April - Aug., 1996.