Beadwork October/November 2019: Lampwork Beads and More

Lampwork beads hold a magic in them that’s hard to describe. For me, they ignite a passion, a need, and make my mind water, like my mouth would if I were eating the sweetest, freshest slice of watermelon on a hot summer day. Lampworking is the catalyst that changed my artistic direction from Tole painting and dried flowers to jewelry. Through lampworking, I discovered a new creative outlet and a welcoming community of people who love to make, collect, and use lampwork beads.

ABOVE, left to right: Holly Cooper uses a Hot Head torch to layer color upon color. PHOTO: TAKAYUKI MATSUZAWA. Holly Cooper draws inspiration from a variety of cultural and historical traditions to make unique glass beads. PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE ARTIST. Kristen Frantzen Orr uses her background in watercolors to create colorful beads. PHOTO: DAVID ORR.

I remember the first time I heard about the process of melting glass and forming beads and how the color “got in there.” It was during a conversation with the husband of an artist during a local art show. He knew the lampworking dance start to finish, and you could tell that he was very proud of his wife. I didn’t get my hands on a torch for some time after that. But to this day, the torch and the process of melting all those colors still calls to me.

Laura Sparling uses steady hands to melt thin glass stringer onto a hot bead in the flame.

Laura Sparling uses steady hands to melt thin glass stringer onto a hot bead in the flame. PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.

What is Lampworking?

Lampworking glass is an ancient art form that has continued into this century. The earliest lampwork beads are marvels of ingenuity, patience, and practice. Many of the foundations of the process remain the same today, but there has been a constant flow of innovations. New techniques and tools make it possible to keep pushing the boundaries of lampwork glass.

Darryle Jada shares her take on the lampworking process along with a brief history on lampworking, starting on page 30 of this issue. Glass artists Hannah Rosner and Stephanie Sersich share bead-weaving and jewelry-making projects that incorporate lampwork beads, starting on page 34. If you’re new to working with lampwork beads, be sure to read Darryle’s 5 Tips for Buying Lampwork Beads, a guide for purchasing quality art beads.

Stephanie Sersich is known for her playful use of color and eye-catching motifs. PHOTO: TOM EICHLER

Stephanie Sersich is known for her playful use of color and eye-catching motifs. PHOTO: TOM EICHLER.

Lampwork beads hold a special place in the heart of many of us, including those who are involved in the Beads of Courage program. Take a peek inside this amazing organization (page 88) to learn more about how they are helping thousands of children battling serious medical illness, including cancer, through beads.

Also in This Issue…

There is more to this issue than just lampwork beads! We have three Designer of the Year projects, starting on page 14, along with a Q+A with Vezsuzsi, one of our DOYs, on page 10. And many other tremendous bead-weaving patterns that are sure to inspire you to get thread and needle out.

Beaded beads are the perfect way to experiment with color. PHOTO ÁKOS HEGYESI

Beaded beads by Vezsuzsi are the perfect way to experiment with color. PHOTO ÁKOS HEGYESI

As we head into the holiday season, my wish for you is to find time to enjoy a passion of yours, a friend to share your passion with, and the opportunity to explore something brand new and exciting!

Tammy Honaman
Editor, Beadwork
Group Editorial Director, Interweave Beading and Jewelry

 


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