Actually, that's not quite true; I took up glass beadmaking because it was either that or resume metalworking—no matter how stupendous a bead stringer one may be, there is still enormous prejudice amongst art fair jurors against the medium. (It was a bit of a shock to discover that it was my mediocre metal work, not my wonderful stringing, that got me into shows. I know this because the year I couldn't work metal at all, my acceptances dropped to about zero.)
Glass meant setting up a new studio, sigh, in the basement, double sigh, but it has color. That lure, and the offer to take classes in exchange for a bit of room, board, & accounting, proved irresistable. I was hooked. Though I'm sure I cherished fantasies of making beads and then stringing my creations, in fact I find I don't have time to pursue both media seriously. So I sell my beads to other people to string. One large and unexpected benefit has been bringing so much pleasure to other beadworkers. I loved having my jewelry customers’ faces light up over my work, but there's something special in having fellow beadworkers experience that joy.
Now I'm a real glass beadmaker, because I have a four color postcard. My profound thanks to Candy Orow of CO&Co., for the color separations, graphic design (on the back) instructions to Modern Postcard, etc etc.
Here I show some of the kinds of beads I make. All of these are hollow beads. Hollow beads have many advantages: beads are lighter, always a consideration for use in jewelry; it requires less heat and less glass, and beads anneal quicker; they're easier to take off the mandrel—I can often pull them off with my fingers; there is no line running down the middle of a (transparent) bead; and it allows for some cute and quirky tricks, such as beads within beads or musical (chiming) beads. I quite often let my simple hollow beads air cool (if I want to measure them for pairs, or know what color they'll be at air temperature, say) and then stick them right in the annealing kiln—at 900 degrees. I've poured boiling water on them without ill effects, I drop them on my concrete basement floor all the time, and one of my partner's favorite demonstrations when customers ask her if they break is to drop a bracelet. On asphalt.
Update, 18nov04. Before purchasing or using any of my beads or items containing glass beads, please read the Disclaimer.
Hollow beads are cool.
Strictly speaking, what I make are mandrel wound hollow beads. They're not blown, at least not by me: the air enclosed inside heats up and puffs the glass. Thus, there are some limitations to the technique that are not a problem for someone who truly blows beads. I think it's easier to learn than blowing glass (no points to pull); it doesn't require tubing (which really isn't available in the soda lime glass I typically use) or a blowpipe (which really sucks the heat out of beads and causes them to crack.) On the downside you do have to remove bead release and you can't get as thin as with blown beads, and it's much more difficult to get even wall thickness. Still I feel hollow beads have many advantages over solid ones, while allowing the beadmaker to do “solid” bead techniques such as dotties that are difficult if not impossible to imitate precisely in blown beads. (To be fair there are blown techniques that are difficult if not impossible to do in solid mandrel wound beads as well.)
Note, 02may05: I've been posting a lot of little posts about beads lately, and finally collected them (I hope) onto the main bead index page. (No, I collected them on the Howto page, darn it...!) Two-thirds of the way through this process I stumbled upon a sub-index page, and realized the new pages should've been linked on the subpages, which then would be moved up the queue on this page. (Still) shuddering at the thought of all that re-organization, I rationalized the decision to leave (move half) the posts here to make them easier to find—and I'll bury them on their appropriate sub-pages as they age, in effect archiving them. Isn't laziness wonderful? (Check the HowtoGlassBeads/ page for the rest of orphans:) —Someday I'll automate this stuff, I swear.
Some so-so beads serve as a springboard for some mild philosophical musings on the state of the bead world. File created 29apr05, index updated 02may05
The joys and frustrations of making floral vases in Satake. File originally posted 26apr05, index updated 02may05.
I've posted some pages of my various studios, old and new (02mar05), though the pix and even some of the files date back a couple of years (one for a studio that no longer exists!) and “moved” one old pic to that directory.
4 frit and powder floral vases: abstracts taken a step further. In ‘sunshine coral’. (posted 14aug04; also added text links to other files in this directory, in addition to the thumbnail image links)
My take on the big expensive gaudy bead. Bead release keeps breaking on me, and so, in attempting to overcome this, I've keep making more. I could just buy heavier duty bead release, but no...Lots of new pix, 17mar04
howto page: cleaning & dressing beads; jury slide setups (for beads and jewelry); dot florals; hollow beads; striking silver pink. Studio pages added, 02mar05
I've created a new directory for bead trades and posted a bunch of beads I've traded for, though not all of them! Yet... Yummy new beads added, 03mar05
I belong to GlassAct251, a glass bead guild. Check out some my fellow beadmakers’ work by clicking on the member sites link.
Unless otherwise noted, text, image and objects depicted therein copyright 1996--present sylvus tarn.Sylvus Tarn