I started making glass beads nearly ten years ago when my silversmithing teacher offered a “taster day” on lampworking and I was hooked from the start. Now I have finally been able to give up the day job and realise my dream of having my own lampworking studio from where I can also sell my beads, my jewellery and that of artists that I admire – including my first lampwork teacher Sarah Lamb and another of my silversmithing teachers, Melinda Scarborough.
My beads are made by melting glass rods in a hot torch flame, fuelled by propane and oxygen, and winding the hot glass round a metal mandrel. This process is called lampworking, as opposed to blowing glass, and is a very ancient technique. Even the hollow beads I make are made this way.
The diameter of the rod determines the size of the hole in the bead: I use mainly 2.4mm and 3.2mm mandrels, but I also make larger hole beads, either with or without a silver core, suitable for Pandora-style charm bracelets. I use glass from Italy, Germany, Czech Republic and America, and add metals such as silver and palladium foil to create different effects.
I’ve studied with many teachers from many countries and continue to do so. Bead making in modern times started in Murano in Italy and that’s still where most of my glass comes from, but in recent decades the USA has been the home of real innovation in lampworking and I owe a huge debt to artists such as Corina Tettinger, Leah Fairbanks and JC Herrell for being such helpful, patient and generous teachers.
I have also studied on Murano with other inspirational teachers including Astrid Riedel from South Africa, Anouk Jasperse from the Netherlands and Melanie Moertel from Germany, and learned the very basics of sculptural glass from the amazingly talented Christina Sfriso.
I look forward to welcoming you to Seahorse Studio in Holt, North Norfolk, where you will find not just glass beads, fine and funky jewellery, colourful fused glass by Hazel Millington, hand-made silk devoré scarves by Sue Harris, and much more.