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Special: Ask Me Anything!

I thought it would be fun to try something a little different this time – so for the next two days, I am open to questions. You can ask me anything!

Anything?

Yes! Anything!

If there’s anything you’ve been dying to know about glass, beads, color, making colorful glass beads or hey, just life in general, you can post your question as a comment to this post. I will do my best to answer any question I can, provided I know the answer.*

 

My hope is that people will ask interesting questions and this post will become sort of a resource for beadmakers.

 

This one-time offer will run for two days, ending Thursday, April 28. Take advantage of it now!

 

And wait – there’s more! Since I’m in a generous mood today, there will be a drawing on Thursday night for all question-askers, and one lucky person will win $50 credit which they can use at my bead shop or my jewelry shop.

 

So, go ahead – ask away!

 

*Disclaimer: I do not know everything.

 

UPDATE (Thursday, April 28):

Thanks again for all your questions!

I seem to have come down with some sort of food poisoning / stomach virus, blah. I think the worst of it is behind me now, but I’m still feeling kind of weak and shaky so I will be answering the rest of the questions and having the drawing tomorrow (Friday).

Thanks for your patience!

See ya soon.

 

72 comments

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  1. Carolien

    Wow, ask you anything…
    I’ve been dying to find out which pinks you use in your hollow beads. I know they are quit thick walled hollows (at least the one I have). My Rubino never gets so nice pink, so I wondered what you use…

    Hugs, Carolien

    1. Sarah

      Hi Carolien! :-)

      I find that regular Rubino doesn’t work very well as a base for a hollow, because it comes out looking very dark and not really pink. Lately I’ve been using Veiled Rubino (some vendors sell it as “Rubino filigrana” – it’s clear encased with Rubino encased with clear) and I really like how that looks! It’s what I used in these beads:
      http://www.etsy.com/listing/72556428/passion-lampwork-glass-hollow-focal-bead
      http://www.etsy.com/listing/72692869/posh-lampwork-glass-hollow-focal-bead

      Also, Bullseye has a nice range of transparent pinks, some of which aren’t so dark – there’s one called ‘Light Fuchsia Striker’ that I like using for hollows, and also an odd lot called ‘Sapphirine Punch’.

      1. Carolien

        Thank you Sarah!

  2. Remy Heath

    Hi Sarah, thanks for this, it will be a great read.
    My question is this: You have an extraordinary eye for combining colours in your beads. How do you go about deciding what colours to use?

    1. Sarah

      Hi Remy!

      First of all, thanks for the compliment, and wow, that’s a very good question!
      I guess a lot of it is just intuition, along with some understanding of the principles of color theory. I have a few “staple colors” that I use often, and these are colors that usually play well with other colors – such as periwinkle, pea green and light turquoise.

      I like my color schemes to appear complex, so when I’m choosing colors I’ll usually start out with 3-4 different opaques, then add matching transparents, then maybe add some more opaques to use in small amounts.

      When I’m having one of those days where I can’t think of anything, I like to visit http://design-seeds.com to look for inspiration. Also, I have a ‘color inspiration’ folder on my computer with various pictures I’ve stumbles across on the web.

      As for color theory, ‘The Elements of Color’ by Johannes Itten is a fabulous book which I highly recommend to all.

      1. Mona Baroody

        What a great answer! I love design seeds too! It helps me with proportion…I love colors and have very little control and use too much of everything…design seeds helps me understand proportions and temper my abandon!

  3. GIAMPAOLO

    HI, MY QUERY….DID YOU OR DO YOU GET ANY INSPIRATION FROM MURANO VENICE WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR LOVELY WORKS? CIAO GIAMPAOLO.

    1. Sarah

      Absolutely! My visit to Murano was one of the biggest inspirations in my beadmaking career. I discovered many new techniques I wanted to try, many of which I am still using in my work today.
      But I think one of the most important things I learned in Murano is that I didn’t need to work with all the special reactive silver glasses to make nice beads, and that I could make endless interesting combinations just by using “regular” colors, like many of the Muranese artists do.
      (I still like using silver glass from time to time, but I find that usually the most interesting thing for me is working with just plain COLOR!)

      Thanks for your question! :-)

  4. Julie Libonate

    Hi Sarah,

    I’ve loved your work since I first started making beads! My first tutorial was Think Pink! Best one that I’ve purchased yet!

    My question is after encasing rubino in clear, how do you use it so that you don’t get that little “smudge” of gray gunk where the end is exposed….or is there a way to get rid of the smudge after it’s there???

    Thanks a bunch! You Rock!!!

    Julie

    1. Sarah

      Thanks so much Julie! :-)

      What kind of torch are you using? If it’s a dual-fuel torch, you can usually get rid of the smudge by soaking the area of the bead in an oxidizing flame. On a Hot Head this can be difficult.

      What I like to do sometimes, is start out with an opaque base – pale pink, for instance – and then encase in Rubino but not all the way to the tips of the bead, leaving a little of the pale pink exposed. Then, I can encase the Rubino in clear completely, without the ends of it peeking out.

      1. Mona Baroody

        Sarah, which brand of clear do you use when you encase pure rubino? I’m having trouble with cracking when I use Aether; I think there is silver in it and it conflicts with the gold in the Rubino.

        1. Sarah

          REICHENBACH!!!

          Sorry for yelling, I’m just in love with this clear. I used to use Lauscha clear but I stopped due to compatibility problems. Reichenbach is beautifully clean, and nice and soft to work with. I encase Rubino with it all the time. And everything else – never had a problem.

          I had a few rods of Aether once but it was a while ago – I don’t remember having any cracking problems with it, but I can’t remember if I tried it with Rubino.

          1. Mona Baroody

            Thank you Sarah. I hear you LOUD AND CLEAR!

      2. Julie Libonate

        Sweet! I’m on a mini cc…I’ll try all of those suggestions! Hope you get feeling better!

  5. elena

    Hi Sara! my question is: when did you starte teaching? and… when you started, did you propose yourself to other Studios or you have been called by them to? How good someone should be to be able to teach to other people?
    …. well these are 3 questions….. is it OK?

    Elena

    1. Sarah

      Hi Elena!

      I started teaching in late 2007. I was first approached by Quinton of Glassworks in Belgium and Miriam of Facet Design in the Netherlands.

      How good should someone be… I’m not sure if there’s a formula for that as it is such a personal decision, and also, not everyone who’s a good artist is necessarily a good teacher.

      1. elena

        I believe you are right…
        You have teached all over the world! you certainly enjoy doing it!

  6. Anita

    Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for the opportunity – I love your work!
    I have done one class (basic beadmaking 101) and have been self learning since, I have a fair control of the basics, but, I want to take things to the next level. What would you suggest? (other than classes)

    1. Sarah

      Hi Anita!

      I believe that teaching yourself through experimentation is one of the most valuable learning methods – I know it is for me. If you feel that you are in control of the basics, then at this point all you can do is follow your heart and see which areas of beadmaking you are most interested in focusing on as your next step. Once you have that down, there are lots of great books and tutorials out there about just about any subject you can imagine.

      I don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way to go, I think the most important thing is to make what you like.

      I feel like I’m rambling here – I hope this helps!

  7. Sarah

    Thanks for all your great questions so far!

    I have to go out for a few hours, so keep ’em coming and I’ll sit down to answer everyone when I get back this evening.

    (I just don’t want anyone to think I’m ignoring them :-) )

  8. Ann Childs

    Hi Sarah,

    I love your work, I find it very inspirational! As a newbie to lampworking (since Xmas) the thing I struggle most with is stringer control. Do you have any top tips (other than practice, practice, practice!) that you could pass on?

    Many thanks,
    Annie

    1. Sarah

      Thanks Ann!

      Other than practice practice practice and then practice some more, I think the most important thing is finding the right spot in the flame, and keeping in mind that the “sweet spot” might be in different places for different colors. I also turn my flame way down when I’m working with fine stringer.

      One thing I have noticed while watching my students work, is that many people tend to get “stuck” in one part of the flame and they forget that as they’re working with the stringer they can move up and down to find the right spot – you’re not “confined” to one place.

      One more tip – stringer control is much easier with Bullseye than with COE-104 glass, because it is stiffer. I actually learned to control fine stringer much better when working with BE, and then when I went back to 104 I realized my abilities had improved considerably.

      I hope this helps!

  9. Cyn

    Really love the colorful nature and organic fluidity of your beads. Sure would like to take one of your classes, as I seriously need tutoring to hone my skills. Any chance you’re interested in coming to Panama during the dry season to teach? How many people would you need to take a class to make it economically feasible for a trip here? If you’re interested, I’d be happy to show you around this area. I live in the extinct volcanic crater community of El Valle de Anton. Panama City is about 2 hours drive away; you could see the Canal, the Gaitun Lake and take some other ecologically based tours in that area and around here. The wealthy Panamanians have their second homes here.

    Besides promoting a class on your website, there are any number of Yahoo Groups that can include postings inquiring about student interest and class sign ups. Feel like taking a trip to Panama?

    1. Sarah

      Hi Cyn!

      I would absolutely love to take a trip to Panama, I’ve never been to Central America and I’d be very happy for an opportunity to visit there!
      Is there a large beadmaking community in Panama? Is there a teaching studio?
      And when is the dry season?

      Whoa, I’m not supposed to be the one asking the questions here, lol :-)

      You can email me at sarah.hornik@gmail.com if you’d like to discuss the details.

      Thanks so much for the compliments!

  10. Kait Schott

    If you had to pick one piece of glass made by someone else, historical or contemporary, that has inspired you the most, what would it be? Or if that’s too hard, maybe one artist?

    1. Sarah

      Hmmm… tough one! I have to think about this for a bit. I’ll get back to you soon. :-)

      1. Sarah

        Okay, I don’t think I have an answer for this one. I can think of many inspiring artists and pieces, but I can’t honestly say there is one piece or one artist who has inspired me more than all the rest.

  11. Ann Childs

    Hi Sarah,

    Not sure if I’m allowed to ask more than 1 question, but if I am, please can you tell us how you take such beautiful, clear photographs of your beads and also any tips you can give on how to set up a website/blog. Is wordpress a good idea? Is it easier to sell on Etsy and ebay rather than trying to incorporate a shop into your own website?

    Many thanks
    Annie

    1. Sarah

      I wrote a Photoshop tutorial a few years back – you can find it here:
      http://www.glassbysarah.com/?p=377

      I am very happy with WordPress so far, so I definitely think it’s a good idea. I have a background in web design which made things a bit easier to set up, but I think most people can figure it out. Now that everything is set up, updating content or adding new pages or photos is a breeze.

      I used to have a shop on my website – this was a few years back – but the platform I was using at the time wasn’t great and I felt like it was eating up a lot of time. I think these days there are probably better platforms available. For someone who is just starting out, I think Etsy would probably be the best bet, but for someone who already has a customer database, a website shop is probably something to consider. I do still consider it myself sometimes, for various reasons.

  12. נחומה לוירר

    שלום שרה,
    . האם גם העברית יכולה להשתתף במחווה הנהדר שלך לכל מעריציך וההולכים בדרך האש והזכוכית?אחרי הישגים כל כך מרשימים עם ההוט- הד, באיזה סוג מבער את משתמשת כעת?בהדגמות ברחבי הגלובוס ודאי התנסית בעבודה עם מחוללי חמצן, האם הרגשת הבדל בנוחיות העבודה עם האש לעומת החמצן הדחוס במיכלי המתכת?יפה הרעיון של נכונות פתוחה לתשובות גם אם השאלות כביכול פשוטות, הן מטרידות את השואלים\ות.
    היי בטוב
    נחומה

    1. Sarah

      היי נחומה,

      בימים אלה אני משתמשת במבער שנקרא בטא. יצא לי לעבוד עם מחוללי חמצן והיום אני עובדת עם בלון חמצן – אני מרגישה שהעבודה עם הבלון נוחה יותר, הלהבה חמה יותר והוא מאפשר לי יותר שליטה על הלהבה. כמובן, יכול להיות שזה תלוי באיכות של המחולל.

      Quick Translation: Nachuma asked what kind of torch I am working with now and if I have felt a difference between working with tanked oxygen and an oxygen concentrator.

      My answer: I work on a Betta torch with tanked oxy these days. I have tried concentrators in different studios I have taught at, and I find the tanked oxy flame to be better – it can go hotter and I have more control over the flow of the oxygen. This may depend on the quality of the concentrator though.

  13. Linda Edmunds

    Some of your beads use a cane that has very thin and separate, parallel lines of color that run the length of the cane.

    How do you make this.

    1. Sarah

      Do you mean encased stringer / striped cane?

      For encased stringer, I take an opaque rod and encase the tip in clear or a transparent color, then pull stringer.

      For striped cane, I paint stripes down the tip of a rod in a different color, melt them in and then pull into stringer – usually relatively thick stringer so the stripes don’t get pulled so thin they disappear. It’s good to choose colors that contrast well.

      (If you were referring to something else, if you can post a link to a photo of one of the beads I’ll check what it was.)

  14. Cathy Bringleson

    Sarah, Your talent rocks. Ok my simple question is: how do you clean out the inside of your hollow beads? I’ve just started playing with hollows, and a few beads have been a struggle to clean out properly. Could it be the release not dissolving, it is Fusion? Also, what do you think about using a ‘Water Pic’, for this issue? How about three questions, oh no, now it’s four questions. LOL

    1. Sarah

      Thanks so much Cathy! :-)

      I answered your question in this post – copying it here:

      —————————
      I don’t have a water pic – I clean the holes out with a dremel, and then I cover one hole with my thumb and fill the bead with water, cover the other hole and shake, then rinse the water out, then repeat if necessary.
      —————————

      Also, I use a bead release that dissolves pretty well. I buy it locally so unfortunately I don’t have a name for it – it comes in the form of white powder which I mix with water.

  15. Heather Behrendt

    What is it like to be a full time artist? It sounds wonderful and exciting, but also a little nervewracking. How do you do it?

    Any thoughts or advice for someone who aspires to be a full time glass artist?

    1. Sarah

      Hi Heather!

      “Wonderful and exciting and nerve-wracking” is a good definition I guess :-)

      First of all, it definitely is wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

      It does involve a lot of work though, especially in the difficult financial times we are living in. I’d say my work is about 40% creating (making beads/jewelry), 30% logistics (photography, posting things on Etsy, packing and shipping, etc.) and 30% marketing.

      I think that when you’re self-employed as a full-time artist, your work becomes what you are, and/or you become your work – it becomes what your life is all about. This has many benefits, but also the occasional downside.

      I’d say my advice for someone starting out is first of all to believe in yourself (and don’t listen to people who ask if you’ve lost your mind). Be prepared do be completely dedicated to your work. If your business is online, you should work on creating a strong online presence, expanding your social networks, etc. – these things take time, but they are very valuable in the long run.

      Hope this helps! Good luck!

      1. Tal

        Love your answer here! “when you’re self-employed as a full-time artist, your work becomes what you are”
        That is so true!!!

  16. Joanna Orlikowska

    Hi Sarah!

    Since the beginning of this year I am interested in your “colour classes”. I hope to take part in such a class this year. Are you planning to give one in the nearest future? :)

    Thanks for your answer and keep making your lovely beads! :)

    Joanna

    1. Sarah

      Hi Joanna! :-)

      I will be teaching my ‘Glass and Color’ class at Diana East’s studio in England this July. You can find some more information here: http://www.glassbysarah.com/?page_id=720

      1. Joanna Orlikowska

        Thank you! Actually, I was looking for something closer to my country, anyway I will check this one and think about it. And will be checking your calendar as well. Thanks once again!

  17. Jackie

    what a gracious gesture ! I am going way way back into ancient history. I’ve always wondered how you made these spiral beads http://www.flickr.com/photos/lyzardqueen/216216388/in/set-72157600232841091

    Thanks for sharing :)
    Jackie

    1. Sarah

      Ahhh, a trip down memory lane. :-)

      I made those beads using a technique called “dot bridge” – you start out with two spacers (or two spots on a bead, but in this case it was spacers) and then build “bridges’ between them by placing large dots of glass one on top of the other, from both sides, until they meet in the middle. It’s a bit time-consuming, but it’s a great way to practice heat control.

      After building the bridges I dipped the beads in some Raku frit and flattened them… don’t remember which tool I was using at the time but I guess anything would work.

      Another cool thing about these beads is that I got great colors from the Raku frit without really trying; the beads just got flashed through the flame a lot through the natural course of the work.

      Hmmm, maybe I should make more someday. :-)

  18. Debbie

    Hi Sarah,
    Your lampwork art is phenomenal!

    Could you please describe, and provide photos of your studio set up?

    Thank you!

    1. Sarah

      Thank you Debbie!

      I am currently using a Betta torch with tanked butane and tanked oxygen. My apartment is ground floor so the tanks are outside, with pipes running through the wall.

      I have an overhead ventilation system and I use a kiln that was made locally.

      You can see a photo here: http://www.glassbysarah.com/?p=22

      These days things don’t look so neat and tidy, lol. :-)

      1. Felicity

        Apologies for a second question, but I have just realised that you are the only other person I know who is using butane (no propane here). Any tricks up your sleeves to get it to behave less sootily (or solve any other little problems)? I am never sure what is due to our weird electricity supply and what is maybe about differences between the butane and propane or LPG.

        1. Sarah

          Hmm… I haven’t had any problems with it really. I know propane is supposed to be cleaner, but it’s unavailable here too (besides in small tanks) and I’ve been getting along with the butane pretty well, no special tricks.

          Might have something to do with your local supply, or maybe worth checking if your torch head is clean?

  19. Elena De Luca

    Dear Sarah,

    I’ve been admiring your new website over and over, and it is just gorgeous.
    The idea of blog and website in one are just Super!

    I was wondering what PhotoGallery plugin you are using for you Photo Gallery?
    Thanks for sharing
    Elena

    1. Sarah

      Thanks Elena, that is nice to hear! :-)

      I’m using a plugin called ‘WP Photo Album Plus’ – you can find it here:
      http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-photo-album-plus/

  20. Shopmonkey Chris

    This is a question posed both as a fan of your work and in an admittedly mercenary vein: why don’t you like Satake glass anymore? After your initial foray (with your standard spectacular results) your interests sort of drifted away.

    Too expensive? Too hard to work with? Too hard to get? For someone who loves vibrant color, Satake is hard to beat, and you initially seemed to really like it but there’s been nothing since.

    Loves and kisses,
    shopmonkeys

    1. Sarah

      Good question, Dear Shopmonkey. :-)

      i was going to say “my main issue was with getting good contrast in my beads”, but then I looked back at some of my Satake beads on Flickr and I see that a lot of them do look like they have good contrast so maybe that’s not quite it. The color palette is a bit limiting though, since many of the opaques aren’t true opaques.
      (The Japanese beadmakers don’t seem to have these problems at all, so maybe there are some trade secrets I don’t know about.)

      And then, there’s the exploding rod thing which can get really frustrating.

      Also, I remember a lot of pressed beads cracking, as if the glass doesn’t really liked to be flattened. Another thing was that many of the colors seemed to pit very easily if I worked them for more than a few moments, leaving a rough surface.

      I think it’s a great glass for some applications, but it didn’t seem like the right glass for the beads I wanted to make.

      But actually, I do have a bunch of Satake left in my studio and unlike my old studio, it is now neatly arranged by color, just waiting for me to give it another try – which I do plan to do someday; I haven’t ruled it out just yet. Looking back at those old beads now, I think I might do that sooner rather than later. I’m not working on a HH these days though, so I guess it is going to be even more of a challenge. :-)

      1. Shopmonkey Chris

        It’s true that a lot of the opaques are actually kinda translucent all by themselves, but by laying down a base layer of something MORE opaque, you can make the top layer seem more solid.

        If you had a problem with pitting, the likely culprit is laying on too much heat – you were actually boiling the glass a bit . Satake takes a patient, subtle approach, without blasting the bead with heat to make it behave. That’s why you use marvers and other tools much more prodigiously when working Satake, since it doesn’t flow the same as other soda glasses and needs to be shoved around to make it go where you want (you probably found that to get it to flow as fast as you might be used to is indeed possible, it just has a REALLY narrow heat window where it goes from gooey lump to water on a stick in an instant).

        “Exploding Rod Thing” will also happens with 96 or 104 glass, if you were to create as much of a heat induced expansion gradient on them as the higher COE Satake rods you had explodey issues with. Again, watchword is patience. Hard, I know, but your own previous work shows it can give some stunning results. Cracking when using molds is also likely due to you being used to lower COE glass, but I guess modifying a muscle memory from thousands of COE104 beads is a tall order indeed.

        HH vs. propane/oxy – nah, not a big issue, as long as you can get a big bushy flame from your torch, and have the self control to keep the bead out of the hottest part when you get impatient. We had a customer once who did Renaissance Fairs, and he made his beads over a small vent coming out of a blacksmith’s forge – he said he lost more than one bead when he first started from the mandrel melting in half and dropping his gather in the hole. Just took time to figure out where the sweet spot was.

        Whatever glass you use always seems to turn out just fine (or at least the ones you let us see ^_^), so Shopmonkeys will always loves Ms. Sarah just the same.

        1. Sarah

          I actually got the feeling that the more I touched the hot glass with tools, the more likely it was to pit. If I was just making round beads or beads that were shaped with gravity, they would usually stay smooth. I wonder what kind of tools the Japanese use, perhaps they’re made of different materials?

        2. Sarah

          I’ve been contemplating all day and I think I might try a Satake session this evening. :-)

  21. Lisa Fletcher

    Hi Sarah –
    I am a long time fan. Going through your flickr gallery is such a treat.
    There is a question I have regarding this bead:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lyzardqueen/3306590123/in/photostream
    I love, love the look of the frit windows on both layers. I have your calendar with this picture and look at it often. It’s one of my favorites.
    Could you share how you do that and what frit/glass you use?
    Thank you!!
    Lisa

    1. Sarah

      Hi Lisa!

      If I remember correctly… I think this bead was made by layering TAG Zeus over black, slightly reducing and then rolling in silver glass frit – I can’t say for sure which kind but I think it might have been an early batch of StrikingColor. After melting the frit in I encased everything in clear. You could probably get a similar result with any clear or transparent based silver glass frit.

      The purplish bubble dots are Michelangelo (AKA ‘Sasha’s Silver).

      1. Lisa Fletcher

        Thank you so much for sharing the information, Sarah.
        It just so happens I alread have all of the glass you mention, even an early batch of SC frit (I think it’s called Palao – or something like that). Anyway, I’ll give it a try. When I got home yesterday and looked at your calendar on color schemes I realized that the bead I was talking about is similar but not exactly the same bead I copied in my original request. Same idea,though, so I’ll give it a try,
        Thank you again!!
        Lisa

  22. Amy

    Sarah,
    I’ve watched your work for several years, dating back to perhaps when you decided to become a full time glass artist (not sure). Your talent is natural and I enjoy watching your processes evolve.
    I work in soft glass on occasion & still am amazed at the wonderfully detailed swirls of color you create.
    Any tips – or point me in the direction of your tutorial – for pieces like this:

    http://www.etsy.com/transaction/48212676

    specifically the upper portion (swirls of green, blue, etc)

    and this:

    http://www.etsy.com/transaction/36946676

    Do you start with a base, then lay stringer around the bead, heat & swirl? or….?

    Any tips or tricks, greatly appreciated. Of course, if you have a paid tutorial, I’m happy to go grab it too :)

    Thanks!

    1. Sarah

      Hi Amy!

      I make this style bead by starting with an opaque base, then encasing in a transparent, then making stripes around it with stringer. Then I heat different sections of the stripey part and rake them around. You can use any raking tool for this, but my favorite tool to use is Amnon’s ‘Hornik Post’: http://lbazcreations.com/main/shop/tools
      :-)

      For the ‘Ocean Dream’ bead I put Double Helix Kalypso over something (probably white or Opal Yellow), slightly reduced (Kalypso and Clio like a VERY gentle reduction), then wrapped stripes of Pale Aqua over it and raked.

  23. karen

    Hi Sarah,
    What a cool thing this is to share your information! I love your hollow beads and how you decorate them. I guess you can’t put too much pressure to poke a hole and cover it up to cover it up. Could you melt in the twisty cane if you wanted to, but I’m sure that’s part of your design. Also I was thinking of putting some murrini’s on and slightly tapping them down (maybe silver reduction ones) but I’m afraid I’ll collapse the hollow! I’ve already done that twice. I know it’s all about heat control, but always afraid of getting the hollow too cold and it cracking, it’s already happened a few times =: (

    Do you have any plans on coming back to the states??? I enjoyed our classes so much and always referring to my notes!

    Thank you so much,
    Karen

    1. Sarah

      Hi Karen!

      Once a hollow bead is formed, it won’t collapse so easily, and they also don’t crack so easily. Of course it’s important not to let them get TOO cold, but usually a quick twirl in the flame every now and then will be enough – it’s such a thin layer of glass that it doesn’t need more than that to stay warm, and in most cases you don’t want to heat it enough to soften the glass because they can easily lose their shape.

      When I’m heating the glass to poke a hole, I try to heat just the dot I’m poking without letting the base underneath it get too hot. You can also tap murrini down by heating just the murrini without heating the base underneath.

      Any decoration can be melted into the surface, as long as you do it slowly and carefully.

      I hope I get to teach in the US again sometime soon. No concrete plans at the moment, but maybe it will happen if and when the economy starts looking up.

  24. Esther

    Hi Sarah,
    Your work is constantly evolving and always so creative and inspiring, as are your commentaries and stories. Do you ever find yourself getting bored and contemplating yet another career, or is the journey continuing to be as fascinating and enriching as it has been so far?

    1. Sarah

      Thanks Esther!

      I don’t find myself contemplating other careers in a fed-up-with-glass sort of way, but sometimes I find myself thinking of other directions I could take it in – like making jewelry, or maybe moving on to larger pieces and/or making some kind of home decor.

      Amazingly enough, after 5.5 years I still don’t think I could ever become bored with glass.

  25. Inge

    I enjoy your tutorial on colors. Some of the glass is not longer available. What substitutes do you recommend?

    1. Sarah

      Thanks Inge!

      ‘Color Schemes’ was intended to be more of an inspiration tool for learning to create your own color combinations and less of a recipe book – most of the colors I mention are merely suggestions, so if you can’t find a certain color, it can usually be substituted with any color you like from the same family – for instance, Watermelon Coral, which is sadly no longer available, could be substituted with any pinkish-coral color.

      If you’re looking for a substitute for a specific color, let me know what it is and I will try to help.

  26. Ilene Taussig

    Hi Sarah!

    Coming from a “handicapped” glass beadmaker….here’s my question:
    Concerning your beads that are pressed or squashed that have symmetrical solid stripes of color going down both sides….your ‘butterfly’ ones have em’ too…..how do you put the stripes on in the beadmaking process? Do you put em’ on after you squash em’? And intergrate them on so perfectly with the heat?

    Thanks….Ilene
    PS It’s been almost 4? years since your first classes in Belgium….wow.

    1. Sarah

      Hi Ilene! Time really flies, doesn’t it?

      I add the “wings” after the bead is pressed, by swiping down the edges with different rods. Then I shape them, usually with the ‘Hornik Post’ that can be found here: http://lbazcreations.com/main/shop/tools

  27. Felicity

    Hi- this is a great idea, so thanks! My question is a bit sideways – about your jewellery-making. Where do you want to take this in the next year or so? What skills do you think you need to develop, what design ideas do you want to explore? I think people value beautiful beads even more when they have them all dressed up and ready to wear.

    I make glass beads for fun in the Congo and am setting up a bit of a metal clay and silver workshop at home here too. I am a bit nervous of it all though and so will be taking a silversmithing class in London in the summer. Great hope for new directions and not only the ability to string the beads better or just make things to hang them on. What about you?

    PS I enjoyed enormously your class in Belgium several years ago.

    1. Sarah

      Hi Felicity!

      That’s a great question… there’s so much I’d like to learn in the field of jewelry making. I’d love to learn some silversmithing at some point, and/or perhaps learn to work with metal clay. With the prices of silver and gold skyrocketing, I don’t know if now is the best time to get involved in this sort of thing, but hopefully at some point in the future.

      I have been toying with the idea of learning how to work with a grinder/polisher, so I can make cabochons and possibly turn them into rings or pendants.

      So much to do, so little time… :-)

      I’m glad you enjoyed the class!

  28. Sarah

    Thanks again for all your questions!

    I seem to have come down with some sort of food poisoning / stomach virus, blah. I think the worst of it is behind me now, but I’m still feeling kind of weak and shaky so I will be answering the rest of the questions and having the drawing tomorrow.

    Thanks for your patience!

    See ya soon.

  29. Alison Griffths

    What a brilliant thing you are doing but I hope you feel better soon!

    I have been bead making since January, and recently changed from a hothead to a minor (I refuse to say upgraded!). I find I can do the basics like getting a good shape, using presses, some stringer but not scrolls yet, dots, frit etc.

    My question is, what would you say is a vital skill to try and master when you are a relative newbie like me?

    Oh and one more! What clear do you prefer? Does one type suit all?

    Thank you!

    1. Sarah

      Thanks Alison! I am feeling better now.

      As for a vital skill, I usually say the best thing you can do is practice the ones that interest you most in the kind of beads you want to make. If you like scrollwork then practice stringer control, if you like crazy-intricate dot beads then practice dots, if you want to make sculptural beads then practice that direction. That’s pretty much what I’ve always done… I learn a new technique when I feel that my beads need it.

      As for clear – Reichenbach! See my answer to Mona above.

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