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John Brana Barbary Coast Collection

14 Aug

Bead and Gemstone Jewelry

John S. Brana's collections of distinctive handcrafted designer jewelry include beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces designed to set the wearer apart from the crowd. John creates all of his jewelry in his San Francisco studio and works in sterling silver, fine silver, 14K gold-filled wire, 14K – 24K gold, copper, and silver and gold Precious Metal Clay.

bead necklace
Crystal Quartz, Onyx, & Amber Necklace
Round smooth Crystal Quartz beads graduate into freeform Amber, 24K Gold Foiled Venetian Glass, and Pineapple Quartz, which crescendos into bold round and faceted black Onyx, Buffalo Horn, and Lava beads. 24K Gold Vermeil beads accent the necklace with a touch of sparkling shine. Measures approximately 23 inches in length.

amethyst earrings
Amethyst Wire Wrapped 14K Gold-filled Earrings
Polished 14K Gold-filled spirals are hand-wrapped with round Amethyst beads, creating a daring dimensional look that complements any outfit.
• Measures approximately 2 3/4" L x 1 1/4" W
• 14K Gold-filled French Ear Wires

gemstone necklace
Amber, Prehnite, Amethyst, & Citrine Necklace
A cluster of smooth Amethyst, Yellow Jade, Prehnite, and Freshwater Pearls, and faceted Amethyst, Yellow Quartz, and Prehnite beads cascade throughout this one-of-a-kind necklace. The elegant combination of soft pastel colors are sure to bring out your flawless feminine features. Measures approximately 24 inches in length.

Brana's original designs incorporate sterling silver and vermeil beads, faceted gemstones, freshwater pearls, Venetian glass, hand-carved precious and semiprecious gemstones – all carefully selected during John's frequent trips to Europe, Asia, and throughout the United States. Whether classic or contemporary, each piece is unique, meticulously handcrafted, and made from top-quality materials.

Sugar Beads

1 Apr

I once thought Polymer Clay wasn't a medium for real jewelry designers. It was for stay-at-home moms who wanted a material they could play around with, to make a cute little ladybug charm or whatever, and throw it in their kitchen oven to bake. A few projects to break the monotony of being at home all the time, that would give them something to talk about and show to their friends.

Boy, have I proved myself wrong! I have seen beads and jewelry that I NEVER would have dreamed could be made using polymer clay.

jewelry beads
Seafoam Blue Green Polymer Clay Sugar Beads

Polymer Clay Sugar Beads
Today I discovered sugar beads, and I found two methods of making them – one using teeny tiny micro beads, and the other using frit. Both begin as a polymer clay bead that is then rolled in the beads or the frit. Both are beautiful, but I like the micro bead version because it gives a more uniform shape.
Beads by Michelle Hynek

These are the modern version of vintage beads that were made of glass or Lucite. Each bead is formed first from polymer clay, then baked at 275 degrees for about 25 minutes. The sugar is then applied, and the bead is baked again. The last step is two coats of water-based polyurethane to give extra strength and a glossy shine. I love the texture.

jewelry techniques
Grape Purple Polymer Clay Sugar Beads

Sugar bead are easy to make and can add a little pizzazz to an otherwise plain spacer bead. You simply roll the bead in the frit or micro beads when it is hot enough to pick up the coating but not so hot it loses its shape. Then put the bead into the cooler of the flame to make sure all the bits are firmly in place.
Beads by Michelle Hynek

Vintage Glass Sugar Beads
Sugar beads were originated in Japan in early 1900s. They were coated with small grains of plastic or glass that looks like granulated sugar. Vintage sugar beads were very popular during the 1950s. After WWII, labor in Japan was cheap, and the Japanese produced inexpensive jewelry in large quantities, but it wasn't well regarded.

The artisans in Japan, as impoverished as they were at the time, were also highly talented. They also used lampwork beads, hand-painted art glass and plastic beads, and acrylics with foil and aurora borealis coatings in their jewelry. The fabulous color and shape combinations are now being valued.

handcrafted beads
1950s Japanese Dark Aubergine Micro Glass Sugar Beads

The polymer clay beads are a pretty good representation of vintage glass beads, I'd say. And they're certainly less fragile.

vintage jewelry
Vintage Sugar Bead Celluloid Necklace
This vintage necklace is a fun combo of sugar beads, celluloid chain, and leaves. The chain is attached to black satin twisted cording. The necklace has no clasp closure, but instead is tied on.

Glasscapes by Mingo and Asho

17 Mar

A Bead's Life on the Glasscapes website is a complete explanation of how glass canes are made, including pictures. I have attempted to give a shorter description of the process below the images, if you're interested. If not, just enjoy the beautiful images of the beads and cabochons that are then made with the glass canes created by Mingo and Asho.

You can buy large fused glass cabochons at their website, like these:

glass beads
Large Fused Glass Cabochons

These are some of the glass canes that are made during this process:

jewelry techniques
Sample of Multicolor Glass Canes

They also have an eBay store where they sell beautiful fused glass pendants, like these:

jewelry necklace
Deep Blue Sea Glass Pendant
Fused furnace glass pendant with dichroic glass background

jewelry designer
Amber Lights Pendant
Fused furnace glass pendant with black and brown swirls

Essential equipment for glass blowing:
1. The crystal glass furnace
2. The "glory hole"
3. The blow pipe
4. The marver table
5. The annealing chamber

The crystal glass furnace holds large quantities of crystal glass. Once fired, it remains hot while molten glass is present inside. It's very hot and noisy. The raw crystal glass, which is like fine white sand when cold, is placed in a crucible inside the furnace, which is surrounded by a blown oxygenated propane flame.

After heating, the sand-like particles become molten crystal clear glass, something like smooth lava. The glass artist works the edge between the liquid and solid state where mental images magically transform into physical reality.

The glory hole is a blast furnace used by glass blowers to maintain the temperature of the piece they're working on. It can also be used to melt smaller pieces of glass that are used in small quantities (i.e. the colored glass used for beads) or to warm up a larger work in progress.

The glass artist inserts the work in progress through the hole, and holds it in the extreme temperatures for the time necessary to provide the desired amount of workability required for the glass object under construction.

The blow pipe is a device used by the glass artist to create an air pocket inside the molten glass, as well as a tool to balance the molten globule of glass on. The application of molten glass to the end of the blow pipe allows the glass blower to start the process.

The liquid crystal glass being applied to the working end of the blow pipe will become the glue used to attach other warm but still solid glass piece to the end of the blow pipe. The liquid crystal glass being applied to the working end of the blow pipe will become the "glue" used to attach other warm but still solid glass piece to the end of the blow pipe.

Once the glass has been heated to its liquid state and worked for perfect centering, the glass is dipped into the liquid crystal glass from the furnace. Mingo rotates the molten glass globule until it is the proper shape and ready for blowing.

When ready, Asho blows into the far end of the blow pipe. The air pocket created inside the piece must be just the right size in order to produce a hole that becomes the center in every bead. Too much and the hole is huge, too little and the hole is too small. This is truly an art that requires knowledge, experience, and intuition in order to get it just right.

Various colors are prepared and applied to the molten glass globule that is to become the exquisite beads Mingo and Asho are world famous for producing. The piece is blown, then dipped in the crystal glass several times in order to create the desired effect.

The marver table is essentially a large steel plate that is very clean and smooth. The table is located fairly close to the glory hole and is used to work the molten glass as it is heated, shaped, cooled, and reheated. The colors are then applied and worked into the piece on the marver table. Sparkles and/or dichroic glass may be added to the molten globule.

The glowing globule of glass dangling from the blow pipe is then stretched and cut into canes, thin multicolor rods of glass that are cut into workable size pieces. The bead canes are then placed into the annealing chamber, which is a large well-insulated chest that can slowly increase or lower the temperature of objects placed inside. The chest is necessary to protect the glass objects and to prevent breakage from the stress of rapid temperature changes.

This whole process is repeated three or four times, until all the glass has been removed from the blow pipe. One of the more astonishing aspects is that nobody knows exactly what the beads will end up looking like until the very end after the cane has cooled sufficiently for the colors in the glass to emerge.

Very interesting stuff!

Glass Rave

11 Mar

I was doing some research for a post I'm writing about Lampwork Beads when I found this website, and I soon discovered that it's about so much more than just lampwork beads.

Andrew Roberts at Glass Rave has been working with borosilicate glass for more than a decade now. This glass is distinguished by high refractive and transparency properties and superior durability.

Borosilicate Glass
Andrew uses various borosilicate glass mineral colors as well as fusing 24k gold and sterling silver overlay fumes to give unique appearance and appeal to his pieces. He then kiln fires the finished pieces for up to 15 hours for maximum strength and durability.

glass beads
Frit Spiral Flower Glass Pendant
This hand blown glass pendant features multi green colored frit imploded and nicely spiraled.

Borosilicate glass was developed originally for cookware (trade name PYREX) and scientific glassware such as test tubes. This makes borosilicate glass much more durable than soft glass (soda lime) which is used to make most glass beads, art glass vases, ornaments and paperweights. The durability of borosilicate glass makes it a great product to use for glass beads.

designer beads
Pink/Purple/Blue Pulled Style Blown Glass Pendant
This hand blown glass pendant features a blue and pink color scheme in a raked swirl pattern. This piece was worked at high temperatures and pulled into shape. Comes with a colored loop.

Andrew's Story
Andrew developed an early fascination to the form, learning as a child that glass is a liquid and formable when heated to higher temperatures. His introduction to lampworking (torch glassblowing) came naturally in 1996 in Boulder, Colorado, where a small growing number of lamp workers were gathering. He is thankful for the opportunity to make things of value for people who appreciate artistry and glass work.

Andrew creates out of inspiration gathered from both the solitary pace of nature and opportunities presented in modern life. He believes his true glass purpose will come in the future, that he is just beginning to create out of sole artistic inspiration, his technical skills adding from every torch experience.

Andrew Roberts has been working boro glass on and off since 1997, with a little soft glass thrown in. He currently works from a studio in Southern Minnesota.

jewelry techniques
Cane Work Rings Pendant
This hand blown glass pendant features handmade color cane laid into the piece hot in ring patterns, creating a unique look and appeal. This piece was worked hot at high temperatures and melted into a round optic.

Artist Statement

The individually created blown glass pendants and focal glass jewelry pieces for sale here are made out of durable borosilicate glass. Some of the ingredients used for our hand blown glass jewelry and lampwork pendants are .999 pure silver and pure gold and colored borosilicate glass. All glass items have been properly annealed in a digitally controlled kiln for maximum hardness.

As with all of the glass on this site offered, our standard blown glass pendants are brought to you at prices greatly reduced from retail, because you are buying from the actual artist created and self-run website which offers the lowest retail environment pricing. Thank you, and I hope you appreciate my work – Andrew

Lampworking 101
What is lampworking? Lampworking is a type of glass work that involves using a torch as a heat source to melt, work and shape the glass as opposed to hot glass blowing or furnace glass work which uses a furnace to keep liquid pooled glass hot. Lampworking is also referred to as torch work.

What kind of stuff do you make the designs in the glass out of? Designs in glass are usually made from small layers of gold or silver or colored glass, which is made from regular glass and metals and additives. But sometimes we put other materials inside like sulfide or meteor glass.

How do you make all those designs? By hand or with a machine? Yes. By hand, it takes some imagination. You've got a substance that can flow like honey, can become sticky or brittle, you can condense and twist and pull and add and shape. Think 3 Dimensionally on a hollow ball, and how that shape could be condensed into a thicker solid form.

Do you really blow the glass? Yes, when we work with a tube of glass we condense and expand the glass, which we do by using gravity and blowing of air. When we blow air into a hollow closed off ball of glass, the air pressure forces the glass ball to expand.

Want to learn more?
Watch the Twisted Cane Glass Video Tutorialor read the Dot Implosion Tutorial for a visual explanation of how Andrew does his work.

This is beautiful stuff!

Bead for Life

29 Feb

Bead for Life
Eradicating Poverty One Bead at a Time
It's a pleasure to write about projects like the Bead for Life program. This organization has found a way for impoverished women in Uganda to generate an income, and to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Women are invited to join Bead for Life if they are living on less than two dollars a day.

The beaders make handcrafted paper beads and turn them into necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. The tailors make elegant jewelry bags from hand printed cotton fabrics.

bead jewelry
Paper Bead Bangle Bracelet

AIDS and War
More than two-thirds of these women are women living with HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS has wreaked havoc in Uganda and throughout Africa. In Uganda alone, over 1 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. More than 1 million children have been orphaned. Every family has been affected.

Many of these women are from the Acholi tribe that were driven from their homes in Northern Uganda by a brutal warlord. They left their agricultural way of life to avoid the violence and to protect their children from kidnappings. Over 1 million Acholi are now living in refugee camps. The Acholi in Kampala have built a mud village on the outskirts of town.

Living Conditions
The members of Bead for Life live in rented mud rooms without electricity, windows, or running water. Most of the rooms are small, measuring 10 by 15 feet. They have large families, and six or more people live in one small room. Several generations of siblings, grandparents, and cousins often live in one household. They cook outside over charcoal.

jewelry designers
The Beaders and Their Village

Earning a Living
Before Bead for Life, the primary means of earning a living was at the rock quarry next to the Acholi Quarter. Sitting in the blistering sun, workers break rocks by hand to make gravel for about a dollar a day. Some earned a few shillings washing clothes or selling vegetables.

Many of the beaders have become entrepreneurs: they now hire others to help them cut paper and roll beads. Besides the 150 beaders and 15 tailors working with Bead for Life, another 300 people are earning a living from the beads. An average member makes about $100 a month.

In addition to buying and selling the beads made by these women, Bead for Life sponsors community development projects in health, education, vocational training, affordable housing, and savings programs.

Bead for Life Mission Statement:

Bead for Life creates sustainable opportunities for women to lift their families out of extreme poverty by connecting people worldwide in a circle of exchange that enriches everyone. Bead for Life is guided by the following principles:

  • Creating jobs through local partnerships is a more sustainable approach to poverty eradication than providing aid. Rather than become dependent on handouts from abroad, the beaders build their skills and long-term capacities through meaningful creative work.
  • Concerned citizens in resource-abundant countries care about the issues of extreme poverty and are willing to get involved.
  • Paying our beaders fair trade prices allows them to meet their daily economic needs. Investing 100% of our net profits in community development projects for impoverished Ugandans allows for a long-term sustainable future.
  • Partnerships formed between North Americans and Ugandan beaders enrich all of us.

Who knew beads could save lives?

Bead For Life

Heart Bead Art Glass

27 Feb

Kim Wertz and Greg Galardy "escaped" from the high-tech world, and opened one of California's premier bead stores in 1990. After five years of buying, selling, and admiring contemporary American Lampwork beads, they began lampworking in the spring of 1995.

After a few weeks of learning what they could do using a "hot head" and vermiculite, they purchased a Nortel minor burner, and fabricated a gas-fired annealer for their studio. Fully self-taught, they always strive to produce beads unlike any they have seen.

I love these Fritter Beads:
lampwork beads
jewelry beads
Inspired by wild rivers, these beads use the properties of reduction frit to achieve their look. The colors vary from neutral tans and beiges to deep vibrant blues, greens, and lavenders, and the colors go from transparent to opaque and even metallic.

Lampworking is a skill that requires a great deal of practice and patience. You have to learn how much heat it takes for the glass to flow, when to add decorative elements, and how different colors of glass interact with each other. And that's only the beginning. There are many other techniques involved.

To create glass beads, lampwork artists melt narrow rods of glass in the flame of a torch. Early lampworking was done in the flame of an oil lamp, hence the name. Most artists today use torches that burn either propane or natural gas.

The molten glass is wound around a mandrel, which is a thin rod of stainless steel. By turning the mandrel and holding it in different positions, gravity helps the bead take form, but there are also tools that can be used to push and pull the glass beads into shape.

bead jewelry
Lizard Eggs Necklace
Lizard egg beads, Chrysoprase, and Vermeil
Lizard eggs are the large round beads with tiny aqua dots.

Kim's and Greg's work has appeared in several publications, and is available in stores across the country. Taking their inspiration from their natural surroundings, their art has evolved to a point where the process is a pleasant step on the way to the desired end.

Heart Bead Art Glass

Inside Out Beads

19 Feb

Great Design Idea: Silver-Core Focal Beads
These beads have been designed to be worn with the Silver Core prominently visible. The openings of the silver cores inside the beads come in small, medium, and large. Small for a simple chain, medium for a larger necklace, and large for a very heavy necklace.

The concept is simple, but not so easy to explain. So, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Candy Egg Bead Pendant
This Candy Egg focal bead has a large Silver-Core opening, and looks great as a slider pendant on a thicker chain.

Can't get much easier than that. Anybody can do this stuff!

Bracelet Beads
I think these are the best of the bunch! What easier way could there be to make a bold and colorful bracelet?

bead bracelet
Simple Silver-core Bead Bracelet
These beads are the smallest beads – approximately 14.5mm – 15.5mm in diameter. They have a silver core which is 4.3mm inside diameter. The beads can be added to the bracelet singly or in groups with sterling silver spacers.

I love this bracelet bead:

glass beads
Molucca Sunset Bracelet Bead

Then, he has Kaleidoscope Beads that would definitely make a stunning presentation:

glass bead jewelry
Five Ocean Paths
Five individual lampwork beads, six sterling silver disks, all joined together on a SilverCore tube. The beads rotate freely on a chain. Like a kaleidoscope you can spin the beads, and change the patterns. An absolute knockout on a thicker chain or cord.

Artist Statement

Hi, my name is David Palnick. I live in a small Atlantic seacoast town in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where I have a glass working and metalsmithing studio. My home is a short walk to four large sandy beaches, two parks, two yacht clubs, a wildlife sanctuary, conservation land for migrating birds, and a harbor with working fishing boats and ferries to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. From an artist's perspective, this is an area extraordinarily rich in visual stimuli, which is a continuing source of inspiration.
After working in the corporate world for a couple decades, I decided to follow my muse and become a full-time artist. Initially, I began as a metalsmith in 1995, and my focus was on traditional jewelry work with silver, gold and gemstones.
A year later, I became entranced with melting glass through studying Cloisonné enameling, and created many complex pieces which were then set in gold or silver along with accent gemstones. In 2003, I started working with flame work glass, and almost as soon as I could make a presentable bead I began searching for a way to combine the glass with a silver component.
My initial work focused on a single bead and a single riveted silver core. Now I am creating pieces composed of multiple bead and silver components. I hope to continue pushing the envelope of my work, and have many ambitious projects planned that I can't wait to get started on.

How clever!

Venetian Glass Beads

18 Feb

Venetian Glass is so named because it is made by Old World artisans on the island of Murano near Venice, Italy. They make some of the most beautiful glass produced in the world, and have done so for centuries. Combining the Old-World charm of Venetian Glass and the Space-Age flash of dichroic glass produces stunning effects.

Dichroic Glass
NASA developed dichroic glass for use in satellite mirrors. This glass contains multiple micro-layers of metal oxides, such as gold, silver, titanium, chromium, aluminum, zirconium, magnesium, silicon. Certain wavelengths of light will either pass through or be reflected, displaying an array of colors.

Dichroic Venetian Heart Beads
These hearts are available in gold, aqua, opaque black, herb green, blue, dark aqua, aquamarine, and rubino. Rubino is the hot pink color. Each bead is handmade in Murano by layering Venetian Glass with chips of Dichroic Glass, then encased in transparent glass.

Dichroic glass can be fused with other glass in multiple firings in a kiln. Due to variations in the firing process, individual results can never be exactly reproduced. Each piece of fused dichroic glass is unique. It makes stunning pendants and cabochons for jewelry.

glass beads
Manuela Silver Foil Multi Bracelet
Venetian bead bracelet adorned with multi-colored silver foil disc beads and separated with .925 sterling silver sparkle beads.

Aventurina Glass
Aventurina is one of the most popular Murano glasses. It contains micro particles of copper filings or chromic oxide.

glass bead jewelry
Aventurina Floral Heart Beads
Venetian glass painstakingly decorated with floral designs of Aventurina in a delicate pattern. Available in blue, red, topaz, and black, these handmade Murano glass beads begin as a mass of colored glass, then they are shaped and worked under the torch, adding the white gold and Aventurina detail in floral motifs.

This stuff is absolutely stunning!

Mary Harding: Bead Artist

1 Feb

Mary Harding works mostly with earthenware and low-fire clay. She likes the way the clay expresses itself even after multiple firings. There is always that element of the unexpected. Mary's work expresses the subtle undercurrents and eddies stirred by her lifelong interest in contemporary masters such as John Cage, Freda Kahlo, and Marguerite Duras.

Mary's recent work involves gathering the timeless and enduring plants of the pastures of Northern New York and channeling these plants to create ceramic pendants, marks a fresh and imaginatively interpreted fusion of styles and material embodied in her colorful renderings of these resilient beauties.

ceramic beads
Purple and Green Wild Leaf Ceramic Pendant
This earthenware ceramic pendant measures 1 1/4 inch in diameter. It is mason-stained and hand-painted. It has been fired multiple times at my studio in a digitally-controlled ceramic kiln. Mary designs and individually creates all of her ceramic pendants, and each one is a unique work of art.

Careful attention to the nuances of her work reveals the cross-current created by her fascination with folk artists, and her search to find and celebrate their work in both Northern New York and Mexico.

Each pendant marks its own creative journey as each work is individually hand-painted by the artist, fired, inspected, and then creatively finished to bring out the fusion of contemporary and folk art drawn from the qualities of the clay, the form of the pressed plant, and the glaze that brings the impression to life.

Mary uses dichroic glass in almost all of her fused glass work. This glass gives each piece a unique sparkle and a wide range of colors. This is one of her lovely dichroic glass pendants:
bead artist
Fused Glass Pendant
This fused glass pendant in shades of blue and aqua looks like an underwater scene and is complete with some lovely tiny bubbles. Pendant measures 1 3/4 inches in length and 3/4 inches wide. It comes with a cold fused Sterling Silver Plate bail that is large enough for most chains and cords. Can be worn solo or as part of your beaded creation.

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.