Monday, October 20, 2014


Necklace made for a friend to convince her that she really wanted to make viking garb. The request was for simple shaped beads (no decoration) in green, black and white. I added the amber colored glass beads in to provide a bit more contrast and because amber and glass beads were often worn together.

Lampworking Workshop

This Sunday I taught a lampworking workshop to five students at the home of Bhakail's A&S Minister. This was the first time that I had formally taught a group of people. All of my previous instruction had been one-on-one.  It was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot. A few things of note include:

-More materials to purchase: marvers and plyers for each participant
-Buy little bags for people to take their beads home in.
-Allow much more time for clean up and cool down than I had thought!
-I also got some very positive feedback about the order of my instruction. I had people practice pulling stringers before making beads, and doing this activity seemed to make the process of making their first bead much easier, and a little less scary, for attendees.
-Finally, over the last year or so of teaching, it has been interesting to see how people approach learning lampworking differently. Some people are very precise when they try to make beads, and these individuals usually try to mimic what I am showing them as closely as they can. Others get creative and immediately try new things. While I tend to be one of the former people when I am learning, I think its important to create a space where people can learn and play in the way that works best for them.

Demonstration & Instruction

A few beads made by workshop attendees.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Older Practice Beads

Recently, I gave Erica, who is a youth minister in Iron Bog, a bunch of my older glass practice beads (one or two of these beads were among the first glass beads I ever made). She was interested in these so she could use them in children's activities. Before she did anything with them, she was kind enough to take some pictures of the beads for me. She organized them and grouped them by color, which is awesome, because it makes it easy for me to look back and see a record of some of the things that I had been working on over time. I actually counted the number of beads in these pictures, and there were 289 of them!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Beads for Royalty Largesse

Below are some beads that were given to the Royal Gift Coordinator. My name was given to this individual by some friends (which was lovely of them), and I was asked if I could either make something, or provide something from my stash of beads, for a trip TRMs were taking to Caid. Below are pictures of the beads that I sent out. 

The first are 7 larger beads that I attached wire wrapped rings to. I also labeled these beads with a photo of an extant bead, and some very general information about the origins of the bead design....because history!


The second image is of a small necklace of beads that I created specifically for HerRM of Caid, taking into account some persona information (such as heraldic colors, and time period) found on their website. A photo of the information card I sent with the beads is also included below.

Preparation for October A&S Workshop in Bhakail

Class Title: Introduction to Making Glass Beads 

Class limit: 4 students who are brand new to lampworking. More experienced students who have made at least a few glass beads before and have their own kits can attend as space allows.
Materials Fee: $15 (covers the gas used for the torch and glass to play with). Attendees will be able to take home all of their finished beads.

Description: This class will provide attendees with a basic introduction to glass bead making (lampworking/flameworking). It will cover how to make a bead, and also how to shape and decorate beads with dots and lines. In addition to this hands on practice, I will discuss what glass beadmaking was like in period, and provide handouts designed to help you start thinking about making historically accurate glass beads with your new found skills. After this introductory material is covered, I will be available to workshop with more advanced students. If there is a skill you wish to learn or practice, please let me know. I will also bring some of my other sources and documentation with me for people interested in learning more about early period beads.

Note:  If possible, please wear clothing made from natural fibers, close toed shoes, and a shirt with tight fitting sleeves.

bring example beads of the types we will be making during the workshop

the significance of glass beads in the early middle ages
period v.s. modern tools and techniques
introduction to materials and mandrel preparation
safety discussion
practice turning the torch on/off, and drying mandrels
make stringer (2 different methods) and learning the feel of the glass
making a bead
adding more glass to make a larger bead (disk method)
basic shaping (barrel & cylinder)
decorating beads (frit, dots, and stacked dots)
how to make period glass beads as a beginner

Materials needed for each participant (or for participants to share)
4 torch heads
4 torch clamp assemblies (L brackets, hose clamps, C clamps)
4 cookie sheets
4 tanks of mapp gas (pluss a few extra)
4 butter knives for marvers
4 yellow rods, 4 red rods
10 mandrels per person

frit in various colors
2 vermiculite containers
2 containers with sand for mandrels
2 containers of bead release to share
4 spoons for frit
4 chopsticks for pulling stringer
2 bbq lighters
4 pairs of safety glasses

-Materials list and picture
-"How to Make a Wound Bead" step by step guide
-"Making Historic Glass Beads as a Beginner" article
-"Social Meaning of Beads" article
-Handout discussing period v.s. modern tools and techniques

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wrightstown Demo

This past Saturday I attended an SCA demo that was part of a much larger weekend  long Renaissance Faire. I have not always enjoyed demos  in the past, however, because of the large crowd at this event, there were a lot of people who stopped by to watch us make beads!

Because the crowd was so large, we roped off the front of my pop up to prevent people, and the many children who were in attendance, from getting too close to the fire.

I was also pleased that remembered to bring a picture of a reproduction early period bead kiln with me. This visual helped when I was explaining to people that while we were using modern tools to make our beads, the basic method we used was the same one that people used in earlier times.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

River War 2014

I first learned how to make glass beads at River Wars, two years ago, so this event is somewhat of an anniversary for me! We had a bead making artisans row space again, which was good. Although the windy weather made bead making difficult at first, it calmed down later enough for us to let some people try to make beads.

Erica, Bruni, and Erlan (not pictured, Elizabeth and Aurddreilen)
I was asked twice today about how beads were made in period. I was able to describe the kilns that were used, but I did not have pictures with me, which is something I think I want to bring with me to demo's in the future. Below are a few videos of people working with reconstructed period bead kilns. Two basic types of kilns have been reconstructed by reenactors.

1) Volcano Kiln: opening at the top (this is the type of Kiln Bruni and I attempted at Pennsic)

2) Beehive Kiln: side opening.