About Annie

Growing up in Western Michigan my mother and grandmother always had some kind of project in the works. They were both artists, my mother an interior designer and my grandmother a dress designer. I of course followed happily in their footsteps and received a BFA in graphic design from Michigan State University.

In 1999 my mother and I decided to take a glass bead making class at Ox-Bow--a summer art school through the Art Institute of Chicago. I had always been intrigued with glass blowing but thought that it was much to expensive and required a large studio with big equipment, which of course I didn’t have, so bead making seemed to fit. I loved it! I could create miniature objects (which I’ve always enjoyed) while experimenting with color, light and texture through a whole new medium. I was immediately addicted.

I have worked in the art field for over 15 years. I exhibit in galleries and shops across the country, as well as being a published artist I am a member of the international society of glass bead makers.

The Process

Glass bead making is an ancient form of art that was very secretive and closely controlled, only families of glass makers knew the process and it was passed from father to son. This of course is no longer true today. There are many books, videos, and classes about making glass beads.

Lampworking or flame working is the art of melting and manipulating glass in very hot precise flames. There are many different types of glass to choose from. Glass rods are wound on a steel rod called a mandrel. The mandrel is dipped in a clay solution (bead release) so that the glass doesn’t stick to the mandrel. The glass can be shaped with many different types of tools or gravity. The beads can be decorated with frit (crushed glass), enamels (powdered glass), millefiori, stringers, twisties, dichro or pure metals (silver, gold or copper).

After the bead is complete it is placed in a kiln to anneal it. This is so the bead doesn’t crack. Once the bead is at room temperature it is removed from the mandrel and the clay is cleaned out of the hole. The bead is now ready to be displayed or made into beautiful jewelry.

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