Archives for July 2015


In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.  Go read the book and you can learn what he did to prove this theory about becoming an elite.

My Glass Beadmaking

So I have had well over 10,000 hours of practice in the craft of lampworking.  In the beginning I spent lots of hours every week learning new beadmaking techniques and practicing them until I perfected them.  I took classes.  I practiced more.  I really wasn’t content with my beadmaking skills until about 1 year after I started (1998).  But today I feel my glass skills are pretty good, more than pretty good actually.  Of course there is always another technique to try and perfect, but I know what I like to make and when I want a bead I can go out to the torch, make it and am very happy with the result.

Then along the way I decided I needed to learn some metalsmithing in order to take my glass beads and create the jewelry designs I envisioned.  And I am about halfway into my 10000 hours and feel a little frustrated at times.  First of all there are a lot of techniques.  And you need to spend time and practice on each one.  Mistakes while learning glass beadmaking were relatively inexpensive.  Not so when using silver.  But I am committed.  And I am very happy to see that the price of silver has come down again.

What am I Up to Now

I am obsessed right now on setting my beads into silver.  And I’m concentrating on rings.  So most of my creative time in the studio recently has been playing around with setting my beads…  In Gladwell’s book he states that natural talent really didn’t play a role for those who were successful at mastering their passion. (thank heavens!)  Practice is what counts and falling in love with practice is important.  So here are a few examples of this journey….

Practice - setting beads

Since the bead has a hole the first technique I explored was the tube rivet (not so easy with glass).  But I decided that using a thin piece of cardstock between the glass and the metal helps.  Then I just remove the card stock right before the rivet is complete.  Also the hole needs to be smooth and round so I have to pay a lot more attention to the bead release on the mandrel, and how I lay that first wrap of glass is very important.

Next I tried using a tap and die technique to hold the bead in place.  I learned this technique from Kristina Logan in the book Penland Book of Glass.  I like this technique a lot and want to play around with it more.

And lastly a stone in stone technique used in the work of Michael Boyd.  I am thinking of combining my tap and die practice with a set stone on the screw.  I really like the look of a stone and glass.

Each of the rings in the photos has lots of room for improvement.

Practice, Patience and Perserverance

So I am off to the studio now….  But I need to make more beads first….  That I can do!

creating the desert in glass and metal

just finished

photo of new project just finished

Bead Crochet Necklace

Just finished another project.

If you follow my blog you know that I love to crochet with beads and these “fat” crocheted necklaces are fun to make because I love designing the pattern.  This pattern is based on a native American design called “Walk in Beauty“.  Usually these necklaces are finished with a magnetic clasp and are quite a statement just by themselves.  But this time I wanted to incorporate my hollow glass beads.  So I came up with this design… that is very easy to wear ….. as it just wraps around your neck.  No clasps.  Because the large lampworked beads are hollow the necklace is still light.

Crocheting with beads is a nice project I can do while traveling.  And I have had a busy travel schedule for the last few months.  I do hate stringing on all the beads though – about 3800 in total.  But once that is done the project can travel with me.  It’s time to get another one strung.

just finished wrap necklace


If you want to learn how to bead crochet I recommend this book….Bead Crochet Ropes

And I have a free pattern for a large diameter rope here.

creating the desert in glass and metal