Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Quest for the Perfect Lampwork Bead

The current economy seems to have driven many jewelry makers to go for mass produced, imported beads. While they have their place, quality jewelry must start with quality beads.
I have become a “cyber friend” of a magnificient lampwork bead artist, Joan Prichard.
I asked if she would do a “Guest Artist” article for our organization. I am delighted that she accepted the opportunity to share her knowledge of beads with us.
Let me introduce Joan to you. Several of you may be acquainted with her if you subscribe to either Art Jewelry or The Flow magazines. She was featured as one of Flow Magazine’s Women of Glass for 2010 and her work was published in Art Jewelry’s January, 2011 edition.


Joan Prichard


The Quest for the Perfect Lampwork Bead

by Joan Prichard

First it’s important to understand the artistic process behind making a quality bead. While there is an abundance of inexpensive beads on the market, be aware that you do tend to get what you pay for.

Some of the more complex beads that have intricate designs, use foils, special reactive glasses or murrini may command a higher price due to the cost of materials as well as the skill level and time involved.

Bracelet by Joan

If you are buying a bead set, check to ensure the beads fit nicely against each other and that they are all basically a uniform size and shape. Often when a lamp worker uses a mold or press to shape the bead, the molten glass meeting the cold surface of the mold can create a pattern of ripples on the surface of the bead called chill marks. An experienced lampwork artist will “heat polish” these marks away with the heat of the flame.

Look for cracks especially around the bead hole, and also make sure the bead is free of nicks and burrs. Jagged edges around the bead hole can fray or even break beading materials. Also check the bead hole to ensure that all bead release has been removed.

Check For Details!

Lampworkers use a coating of bead release on the mandrel. The release keeps the bead from sticking to the mandrel so that it can easily be removed. After the bead is cooled, the lamp worker should remove all traces of bead release. Otherwise, this substance can coat your stringing materials and flake onto clothing.

Evaluate The Comformation

Evaluate the bead’s overall appearance. If it is round is it balanced? Granted, lampwork beads are handcrafted. However, the bead should be pleasing from all sides and the design should be symmetrical.

More experienced lampworkers tend to concentrate more on the finished elements of the bead such as a pleasing shape. Beginning lampworkers are more focused on the overall mechanics of operating the torch and are less focused on the finer details.

Ask if the bead has been annealed. Why is annealing important? The annealing process involves heating a bead in a kiln to a specific temperature and allowing the bead to slowly cool and relieve internal stresses. You are basically changing the internal structure of the glass to improve its durability. Glass beads that have not been annealed are more likely to crack or shatter when subjected to small temperature changes. Therefore, annealing is critical to their durability. It is an important sign of a quality bead that it has been annealed. And if you think about it, a reputable artist who has spent hours making a beautiful bead should want to improve the lifespan and durability of their miniature work of art.

Hopefully these few tips will make your venture into finding the perfect bead less stressful and more productive. No matter if you’re spending a small amount of money or large, you still should pursue quality beads. After all, you not only have money invested, but also your time in creating beautiful jewelry.

About the Artist

Joan Prichard’s love for glass started close to 20 years ago when she took a stained glass class in Columbia, SC. She later became intrigued with glass beads while attending the Glass Craft and Bead Expo in Las Vegas.

A demonstration by a glass artist at the show was her introduction to these delicate works of art and she began her own venture into crafting her own art glass beads. In 2008 she expanded her love for glass to enamels and began creating cloisonné as well as lampwork beads and jewelry. In 2010 she launched her online website for Sand and Surf Beads. Joan lives in Navarre, Florida with her precious kitty Havana.

Her work is published in Art Jewelry Magazines January 2011 Gallery and in The 2010 Flow’s Women in Glass.

Joan, thank you for sharing this information and your lovely work with us. If you would like to see more of Joan’s work, visit her here:

Minutes of Meeting: January 25, 2011

The Mystery Is Solved! Our Member Gail May Made This

Beady Bunch Meeting Minutes for Jan 25th, 2011

The meeting was called to order by President Chris Johnson with 12 members present. The November minutes were approved.

Old Business: Discussion of the April 9th Bead Bazaar. Joan asked for volunteers to help with promotion of the event. Lisa offered her list of media contacts.

Judy Citta gave her report on possible national instructors for this year’s workshops. Judy Walker will teach the weekend of Aug 20th and 21st. Judy C. will email out the projects for us to choose from.

Judy mentioned Diane Fitzgerald as a possible teacher for spring classes and read a list of her fees. Lisa made the motion to hire Diane as the spring class instructor. Julie seconded it and the motion carried. Suggested dates are April 2nd and 3rd, or April 30th and 31st, 2011. Judy will confirm dates with Diane and send out pictures of class offerings.

Chris reminded us to be working on pieces for the Edna Perkins project for May. Bring your pieces to the April meeting so they can be delivered to recipient in May.


Bead Bazaar: Joan Duggan Chair, Lisa will help with contacts.

National Teachers: Judy Citta Chair, Gail will assist. Julie will help with contracts.

Monthly projects:

February Denise will teach beaded earrings. Instructions on website.

March Barb will teach peyote necklace

April Joan, fused glass

May Christy, beaded watches with interchangeable bracelets

June Lisa, safety pin jewelry

July Julie and Lisa, Viking knit

New Business: Virginia reported that there is a new bead store opening on Febr 5th in Fremont called “One of a Kind”.

Judy Citta announced that she and her husband will be moving to South Dakota very soon. We will miss you greatly Judy! Good luck in your new home…and don’t forget that you invited us to come and visit!

The meeting was closed and followed by show and tell.

Submitted by,

Denise Stahl Secretary

A Bit of Tongue in Cheek!

Beads Seized

Beads Seized by FDA at Import Docks Declared Illegal –

Contain Addictive Properties

Dateline Washington DC

In a renewed effort on the War on Drugs and Other Things that Might Be Addictive, the FDA recently seized an import of Japanese beads ranging from Delicas and 11/0s to triangles, 6/0s hex beads and more, claiming that the favorite among bead designers contained chemicals with possible addictive properties.

Spokesman Haam Struhng of the FDA stated “these beads contain something that we have determined to be addictive. Just look at them – once you start with a single color, you instantly feel the need to own them all. Some beaders get so far gone that they must not only have the colors in one bead style, but in ALL bead types!

This is a serious problem and is ruining budgets all over the US, including your town! Last November, the FDA began sending out operatives to various “bead shops” to investigate and to attempt to put a stop to this Menace. However, much of this campaign backfired. Says one former agent who preferred to remain anonymous “come on – if Marcus Amerman, Don Pierce and David Chatt can get so much attention by doing this then why shouldn’t I?”

Many of the female agents sent into the alleged “bead houses” never returned. It also seemed the larger the store, the worse the attrition. One female agent went to investigate a huge store in the San Diego area and was not seen again for three days. When she was finally tracked down she was found in a motel room on the outskirts of Yuma, holding 4 suitcases full of beads. The apparently half-mad woman evaded capture , mocking the Agents by shouting “I’m heading to Tucson with my expense account credit card” After backing up and pointing her vehicle towards the freeway, she rolled down her window and laughed, saying “Calgon’s got nothing on this bead stuff!” as she spun out in her “Liza Lou” Limited Edition Humvee. ”

The seats feel a bit uncomfortable the woman shouted over the roaring engine, “but so what – it’s beads” as she went skidding out of the parking lot, swinging a long hank of 11/0s over her head in a move reminiscent of that by Gina Davis’ character in the hit movie Thelma and Louise”.

This reporter got a glimpse of her bumper sticker “Bring Back Beadwork’s Bead Bash” it read and another said “Give me Embellishment or Give Me Beads”. A third, somewhat more aggressive logo stood out stating “Shut up and Bead”. Clearly, this woman is exhibiting a cry for help.

Several “recovery homes” have been established in some of the more dangerous states – those with a large bead store presence, but have discovered the level of security will need to be high “the beads are tiny” said one veteran Matron “these women think nothing of hiding their contraband beads in skin folds or taping them inside their clothes” she said with a sigh. Tensing up, she stated “visiting day is worst of all – they see these family members come dressed in jewelry and just go nuts.

One whole wing was torn up and someone showed the inmates how to make beads out of coffee grounds. It’s the worst duty I’ve pulled in 25 years in the Federal Prison System”.

Currently, the White House is lobbying to eliminate beads on the Internet, citing them a “a menace to otherwise productive men and women”. and stating “these Internet related peddlers of addictive substances must be stopped at all costs”.

Beaders React to these new Allegations……by laughing out loud!