Video interview #2… about process (and featuring my son)

This is the other video that Liana, the host of Contemplative, Expressive and Imaginative Arts, shot last weekend… it was an intro/warm-up session right before we did the live radio interview & video. In this one, we discuss the glass beadmaking process a bit more and you’ll get to hear what my son thinks about having a mom who plays with fire…

At the end, there’s no demo because my hands were shaking so much I couldn’t get the tank attached (doh! LOL).  At some point, I’ll have to make sure i actually post a video working on the torch.

Also, the full annealing cycle for each of my beads takes about 6-8 hours – i only mention the soak time (to even out the heat in each piece) in the video.


Live radio interview & video about my art…

This past weekend i was interviewed by Liana Voia, the host of Contemplative, Expressive and Imaginative Arts for her live radio art therapy show.

I was a nervous wreck in the beginning but once i calmed down i think it went well. Liana asked some great questions and it was wonderful opportunity to explain my passion for glass to someone who appreciates art and supports local artists. For those with a slow connection there’s an audio-only version as well.

There’s also a second video with my son participating which i’ll post tomorrow.  Anyhoo, enjoy and leave a comment!  I’d love to hear what you all think…

Glass Class 101:Making Lampwork Glass Beads

Soooo, how do you DO that???

This is the question I’m most frequently asked when i mention i make glass beads (after of course, we get past that initial stage of incomprehension where i explain that yes, a person can make their own glass beads if they so choose, and no, it’s not really like glassblowing). 

SO! in honour of that ever repeating question, i decided to make a video demonstrating that process.  Ha!  easier said than done.  Unfortunately life and the whims of a teenage schedule means that video never quite happened. 

Instead, thanks to the wonder of modern technology, the internet and lots of people with way more time and video talent than I will ever have, here are some YouTube videos (of other glass beadmakers) demonstrating how they make their glass beads.  I’ve explained the process and components on this page: My Glass Beads.  Any questions? let me know…

My beads are essentially made just like these – but bigger.  Enjoy!

Simple disc bead:

Encased floral:

Sculpted polar bear:

(Yes, someday i will get my own video made and posted… someday…)

Glass Class 101: Bead Poop

Bead Poop 

 Photo:  Mass market, lampwork beads –  lightly dry-reamed
BEAD POOP: Definition: (1) the crumbly, dirty remnants of bead release left in a lampwork bead’s hole once it has cooled and the mandrel removed; (2) the powdery crap you’ve learned to clean out of mass market lampwork beads so it doesn’t leave a mess all over your design; (3) the chunks of clay inside your bead holes that you eventually learn should be reamed under water so you don’t inhale all that dust.

Bead poop.  Yup, that’s what you’re seeing.  Now if you’ve ever bought mass market, lampwork beads like these, then you know exactly what bead poop is and how much of a pain it is to remove.  The beads above are from my old glass bead collection, purchased about 12 years ago (long before i ever knew anything about artisan lampwork) and at the time, very popular with my customers. 

Until I discovered artist-made lampwork, I accepted these glass beads as among the best I could find, bead poop as a normal part of bead buying and had an assortment of reamers to clean it out on my own.

So why is bead poop the topic of the day?
Because it’s a such simple thing yet one of the key differences between beads made by individual lampwork artists and factory-made, mass market lampwork beads.  Yes, both are made of glass.  Sure, both are made by hand.  And of course, both came off the torch with their holes filled to the gills with chunks of powdery bead poop.

Well, what’s the difference?
Lampwork artists clean out their bead poop.  Reaming bead holes is a sucky job (even for us) so we don’t make you do it.

And we won’t use just any bead release.  We worry about it.  We discuss it.  We even argue about it.  We hound bead release makers about improving their product and expect them to follow up.  We constantly experiment with multiple bead release formulas and various types of diamond reamers to figure out the clearest path to a completely poop-free bead.

You may not know this but lampwork nirvana is a transparent bead with a completely clear (not frosted) hole.  It means we’ve found that perfect combination of a bead release strong enough to securely hold the bead on the mandrel while we’re making it yet smooth enough to leave a completely clear hole.  And it means that one of the many reamers we’ve tried has just the right grade of fine diamond grit to clean out every last scrap of bead poop without also scratching up the inside of the glass.

But why such effort?
Because we care.  Every sale is an affirmation that one more person out there has become informed enough to appreciate what each of us has worked so hard to create.  Because we know you could have bought any of the gazillions of inexpensive, mass market glass beads out there but instead you bought ours.

Each and every purchase makes it all worth it: the hundreds (or thousands) spent setting up and stocking our studios; the many hours bent over the torch mastering each lampwork technique and exploring the possibilities of each rod of glass; not to mention the time spent ducking exploding glass, nursing burns and blisters, calculating ventilation, oxygen and fuel requirements, and researching the latest developments in hot glass, equipment or a new source of design inspiration.

Get it?
When you buy artisan lampwork, you’re not just buying a poop-free bead.  What you have in your hand is the accumulated effort of everything that one lampwork artist has struggled to achieve since they first sat behind a torch.

And that my dear readers, is the significance of bead poop.

Pages are updated

OK, I’ve updated the main pages I wanted to add and I think I’m happy with them.  Take a look, there’s a page introducing me, why i chose the name ShebaMakeda, as well as one with the usual questions I’m asked every time I show someone my glass beads…

This weekend I’ll try to get some nice, sharp bead pics uploaded – you’d be surprised at how difficult it is to get a good, clear macro shot of a bead.  Probably doesn’t help that I only have a 3MP point and shoot digicam.  I think I better pull out the tripod cuz so far the blurry hand shots sure aren’t working.

Now I have to go make some beads – I promised to donate a couple for a charity silent auction at work.