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Q: So you actually make the beads? how?
A: the short(ish) answer: I melt rods of coloured glass in a flame, wrap them around a stainless steel rod called a mandrel, I decorate using further rods of coloured glass, some of them pulled out to a hair thickness ‘stringer’. no paint is used, its all glass!
I shape the glass by using gravity and heat, or sometimes special tools like graphite marvers – a flat pad of graphite I can roll and press the bead on, or a shaped one with a cavity the right shape for the bead I want to make, or brass presses. I also sculpt in glass using a variety of tools including dental picks, various specialty shapers and more everyday things like knives, spoons and any other useful looking implements I find lurking at the back of the kitchen drawer!
The beads are then very slowly cooled in a digitally controlled kiln in a process called annealing, which prevents stresses forming in the glass.
Heres a short video
Q: How do you get the hole in it?
A: The mandrels I make my beads on are coated in special ‘bead release’ a ceramic substance which allows the glass to grip whilst hot, but can be removed easily and cleaned out thoroughly once the bead has cooled, leaving behind the bead hole. The size of the mandrel and the thickness of the bead release determines the size of the hole
Q: Do you Teach?
A: Not just yet, but I plan to in the future, why not sign up to my mailing list to get updates
Q:They’re like that Murano glass aren’t they?
A: Murano is an area of Venice where they produce various styles of glass work, from lampworked beads to blown pieces.
Many of todays glassworking techniques originally came from Venice, though they used to be very secretive and severe punishments were handed out to anyone who shared these secrets!
A lot of the glass rods I make my beads from are from Effetre, a glass factory in Italy.
There are many glass beads available that call themselves ‘Murano glass’ or ‘ Murano Style’ but that may not mean they were actually made there, or made with the care and skill associated with this historic glassworking area.
Q: Do they break?
A: At the end of the day, it is glass afterall, and yes, if treated very roughly, dropped on a concrete floor for example, it can break. But in normal use like wearing it, they don’t generally break. Items with sticking out bits will be more succeptible to breakage by their nature and care should be taken not to knock them against hard objects.
All my glass is annealed, which is the process of cooling the glass slowly in a digitally controlled kiln to relieve stresses in the glass.
If you do manage to break a piece of my work, do tell me, I want to now how and why so I can stop it happening again!
Q: How long does it take to make a bead?
A: a single bead can take anything from a couple of minutes for a simple spacer type bead, to a couple of hours for a bigger sculptral bead. for almost every bead I sell there will be countless other experimental beads leading up to it, colour tests, practice beads and so on.
Each bead will then soak overnight in the kiln, gradually bringing the temperature down at a controlled rate to anneal it. The beads are then removed from their mandrels, all the bead release cleaned out, washed and dried.
Got another question? contact me!