I have a bead show next weekend, I am making beads each night, trying to have enough stock to put on the table. Most of our shows are about the camaraderie of being together as bead makers. We aren't really all that competetive with each other. All of us work full time except for a few that have made a business out of lampworking.
For those of you that don't know what lampworking is, it is an old form of melting glass over the top of an oil lantern. Glass in a molten state is a liquid. To get the hole in the bead, the molten glass is wrapped around a metal rod called a mandrel. The rod is stainless steel, coated with a clay like substance that will allow the bead to come off the rod after it comes out of the kiln. Once glass is heated to molten, it is not stable, the molecules have moved around in such a way that the piece could explode without warning. Once the bead is cool, it is taken off the mandrel, the hole is cleaned to remove the bead release, and the bead is born. When purchasing glass beads, it is important to look at the ends of the beads to be sure they are not ragged, and the bead release is gone from the center of the bead. If you don't do that, any time you wear the bead, your clothes will be covered in little gray or white specs. The bead release will chip off the inside of the bead.
Putting the bead in the kiln is a process called 'annealing'. The debate amongst glass artists is a continuous process of debating whether a bead should be annealed or not. Most will say beads of a certain size don't require annealing, while others should be placed in the kiln. I made a bracelet out of some of the beads that I created before the kiln. I have worn that bracelet for 4 years now. Guess what? Just last week, I cleaned the silver on the bracelet, and noticed the beads were cracking. So, in my opinion, each bead will need to be put in the kiln, no matter that size to prevent a customer from being harmed, or worse yet, one of their children. I never sold any beads that had not been placed in the kiln. I am pretty stubborn about things I think are 'right' and 'wrong'. So, instead of debating the issue, I quietly did my own research. This proves to me that you should always ask before buying beads if they have been KILN annealed. You will find beadmakers that want to sell beads quickly, they will tell you they 'flame anneal' their beads. It's not the same.
I have also had people tell me, Oh, I made beads and it has been 2 years now and they are still ok. Now I can tell them that I KNOW THEY WILL CRACK eventually. It is only a matter of time.
Well, sorry for the long rant, if you all want to see my work, or come say HI, I will be at the Westside Community Center in Omaha, Saturday March 31st. I will try to get photos posted of the beads.
Today we continue to call the process lampworking, but we use a torch. There are a variety of torches on the market that are 'clean' enough to use for melting glass. Some torches use oxygen and propane, some use plumber's fuel. The beginner torch is a very inexpensive one, called a hothead. It is a good way for people to try the art without a huge financial investment. I used that torch for a short time, decided I liked what I was doing, and moved to the next level. My husband bought me a kiln within a week of my working at the torch. It allowed me the opportunity to do the larger beads, eventually getting to a point where I could market the beads I created. It is a hobby for me, one that I enjoy, but I don't take it all that serious. I don't think I 'have what it takes' to make it big in the bead world. I am happy doing what I am doing. I will post photos of the beads I am taking to the show. My camera is not that good at photo taking.
I have a little sister that bought some fancy shmancy camera that would most likely take awesome photos, but I don't like to impose on people to help me with things. WE are all busy in our lives. She is really busy, a school teacher, mother of 2 little ones, and is going back to school to work on her masters in Education. So, no spare time for her, plus she is an amazing scrapbooker, going to scraps all over the place when she has free time.
Details for the show:
Sat, 3/31/2007TimesSat. 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Location:Westside Community Center
3534 S. 108th Street
AdmissionFees: $3 coupons at local bead stores.
DescriptionThe Bazaar will be filled with exhibitors, both nationally known bead vendors as well as local bead shops, displaying and selling beads.
Free demos on jewelry techniques and lampworking will be ongoing through the day.
Additional InformationWheelchair Accessible - Yes
Adjoining Parking - Yes
Credit Cards Accepted - Yes