● By Style
Photo by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group
"I’ve always loved beads and beading,”
says Anne Dodd, a local lampwork glass bead artist and owner of Spare Time Designs. Although she started off making polymer clay beads, she admits to having a strong desire to work with glass. “I purchased a set of lampwork glass beads on eBay, and thought to myself, ‘I would sure like to be able to make these beauties myself...so why can’t I? What’s stopping me?’”
She researched the industry and found a local glass supplier in her area, Arrow Springs, that offered classes. After completing a two-day course in 2005, she bought all of the necessary glass, tools and supplies needed to make the transition. “From then on I was hooked and have never looked back,” she shares.
What is it about lampwork beads that attracted the artist? “I love the ‘glass’ aspect of lampwork beads,” she says. “Taking a single rod of colored glass and melting and forming it into a beautiful bead is what makes it so special.” Dodd adds her own designs and color to each bead, experimenting and fashioning new creations. “The possibilities are endless,” she says. “Every day I’m still learning and continuing to stumble on new ideas and designs.”
“Frosted Cocoa Rose” glass beads
Dodd begins each process using a torch to heat the tip of a 12-inch rod of glass. Once the glass becomes molten, she winds it around a metal mandrel to start forming the bead. “I sometimes use a press to shape the bead or sometimes just go free-form,” she adds.
As the process continues, several other colors of glass, frit (crushed glass) and silver foil are added to create the elaborate designs. A bead can take anywhere from five to 30 minutes to complete depending on its size; Dodd usually makes between 10 and 20 beads per session.
Once formed, the bead goes into a kiln at 940 degrees Fahrenheit. “When I’m done for the day and the last bead goes in, I ramp down the kiln a little at a time before completely shutting it off. This is part of the annealing process, which is important in keeping the beads durable and strong.” Since it takes several hours for the beads to cool, she’ll typically wait until the next morning to take them out of the kiln.
Following the lead of other “handmade” artists, Dodd has relied on the success of Esty to market and sell her pieces. “It has grown so much in the past few years,” she says. “Listing my beads is simple on their site, and I especially like all the other ‘beaders’ and crafters I’ve connected with.” Dodd’s beads are typically sold loose in sets of five and 10, and purchased by those looking to make jewelry pieces of their own.
If she could pick just one of her favorite beads to make, it would be the “pillow”-shaped ones. “They have a nice sleek rectangular shape that everyone likes,” she notes. “They are not too big or too small and they lay flat...a nice size for bracelets, earrings or any other type of beading project.“
Visit freewebs.com/sparetimedesigns for more information.