Donald Schneider,
beadmaker in borosilicate. RIP

Donald Schneider, along with Ona Sostakas, were the main two influences for the style of beadmaking I'm known for: hollows.

I actually met Don long before I had any idea how to make glass beads. My first memory of him was at a lecture by a bead stringer and teacher who had such a disastrous impact on my tenure as the GLBG newsletter editor. This woman (whose name I have truly, mercifully forgot) gave a slide show in which she discussed how she got a number of focal beads from various makers: she promised to mention their names in this lecture, which she evidently gave at a number of venues.

Donald Schneider, March of 1995. Borosilicate, with hand made cane. Signed and dated with an etching tool (e.g. foredom)

And then was unable to give the names of some of her donors—‘I forgot’, she said, more than once. I was truly appalled. Don's comment to me—since I was taking notes for the newsletter—was that she didn't understand pate de verre, which I characterized as a ‘slight error’ in her talk.[1] In contrast I was impressed with Don's efforts to educate me.

Obverse. Bead is a surprisingly even 10x20x30mm

Don was a member of Glassact from its inception, and talked about batching glass (and running away from the dust as he did so); making his own tin white for boro; and finally, in some discussion or other, though he did furnace glass, preferred boro for his beads “because he didn't like the line down the middle” created by mandrel holes in solid beads. This seemed to me an excellent point, and was, along with the desire to reduce weight, the main drivers in my pursuit of hollow beads.

The bead in this post, which he characterized as a scarf clip, features his own murrini—in 1995, there wasn't much of a selection of boro color, let alone cane. He demonstrated the bead for us, and what I principly recall was his taking two graphite rods which he inserted into the tube and then rotated around each other to flatten the shape (after spending a tediously long time in comparison melting in the murrini). I'm pretty sure I bought this bead some time after I started making beads myself, most likely at the GLBG Bead Bonanza. As I recall I paid $60, and it was the most expensive bead to date I'd purchased: it joined the collection early, 1996–1998, perhaps.

He had a massive heart attack on a Monday[2] and died the following Thursday in hospital, without, I gathered, ever regaining consciousness. He was 67. In recent years we didn't see Don much at guild meetings, but he'd show up occasionally; so while I can recall my first meeting, I don't really know the last. We didn't know each other well, but my memories are fond, and I will always appreciate that throwaway comment that had such an impact on my beadmaking.

[1]That's not the reason she threatened to sue the GLBG, which resulted in my getting kicked off the board. If we hadn't been so poor/clueless, any lawyer could've told me the claims were ridiculous. But we were, and her threats terrified the board. This is one of the many, many ways the poor are circumscribed in ways more privileged people find hard to conceive—it didn't even occur to me to try and find a lawyer, even a pro bono one, who could have dismissed that stuff in 15 minutes flat. Now I'm friends with someone married to a lawyer, and know how silly all that was.

[2]Feb 8? of 2016