Schermo Beads

30 Jan

Ann Baldwin at Schermo Beads started out using seed beads in her teens, and has evolved into a full-blown glass bead artist. Her site is extremely interesting and informative, complete with pictures, especially the Art of Making Glass Beads page. She even teaches bead making in her area.

And believe me, the lady makes some gorgeous beads:

lampwork beads
Iris Flower Bead

The art of bead making by winding molten glass around a steel mandrel is often referred to as Lampworking, because the early glass bead makers in Venice used oil lamps as their heat source for melting the glass. Today, it's more common to use torches that use a mix of propane and oxygen to get a precise flame that allows the bead artist to control the heat as the glass melts.

How long does it take to make a single bead ?
Ann says:

About seven hours from start to finish, including dipping the mandrels in bead release, preparing the glass rods, melting and forming the bead in the flame, annealing the bead in the kiln (that's about five + hours right there, but I can go watch TV during that stage of the process), and then cleaning out the beads when they're done.

In truth, most beads take from 20 to 60 minutes to actually make the bead in the flame, depending on how many layers of glass and sparkly bits like dichroic, goldstone, or foils I add. It also depends on how much sculptural work of melting, shaping, pushing, pulling, pinching, forming and cool down is involved.
I've tried to time it, but when I am staring at a the flame, I lose all track of time.

handmade beads
Chubby Stripes and Swirls Beads

Artist Statement

My interest in all things beady goes back well into my teen years when I made beaded cigar band rings and love beads like every other teenager in the late 60s. My bead obsession went into remission as I was making my way through raising children in the real world in my 20's and early 30's.

About ten years ago, my interest in beads was reawakened by two curiously unrelated events: I started noticing the beautiful seed bead work done by Native Americans, and bought a huge quantity of opaque primary colored, irregular seed beads, which I still haven't figured out what to do with. I also bought a book about making beads out of polymer clay.
That, I did know what to do with!

From there on, things kind of snowballed. I started making polymer clay beads like I was possessed, and then I realized that I needed other beads to go with my clay beads. I started buying glass beads to use in necklaces and earrings. The more I bought, the more I learned. The more I learned, the more I wanted. The more I wanted, the more jewelry I had to make and sell in order to afford the beads I now NEEDED. Bead Addiction: it's not a pretty sight.

And in the midst of my obsession, an idea took hold. I had heard about glass bead making. It looked fascinating, but I actually thought that the biggest problem was that I would probably cut myself on the sharp edges of the glass. Fantasies overcame fears, and in March 1999, I signed up for a class with one of the BEST lampworking teachers in the country, Kate Fowle, and took her two day beginning bead making class. I was hooked.

That class taught me not only the necessary basics, but also confirmed that I seemed to have a knack for it. I went home, ordered my equipment and my glass rods, and started cleaning out the garage. I was on a mission.

Now I have a bead making studio in the garage, and I spend several days a week making beads, or teaching bead making to others. I have upgraded my equipment, added additional ventilation and cooling, and bought a digital controller for the kiln which handles all the steps of adjusting the temperature, so I don't have to keep running out to the garage to mess with it while the beads are annealing. This past year I bought another torch; BIGGER, hotter and scary looking. It's gone from an expensive hobby to a satisfying business.

Related posts:

  1. Czech Glass Beads
  2. My Lovely Beads
  3. Humble Beads
  4. Novice Jewelry Designer Stumbles Into Beads
  5. Cloisonné Beads

No Responses to “Schermo Beads”

  1. Barney February 19, 2008 at 10:16 pm #

    Hi there. The beads look great especially the Iris flower one. Making art can be very relaxing and fun. Whenever I find free time I try to get creative and make art pieces.

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