BOOK REVIEW by Walter Green

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Innovation & Imagination in Contemporary Glass Beadmaking  

Lark Books from Sterling Publishing, NY

ISBN 1-57990-458-0  $24.95  


I have always loved glass as an art medium so in my “middle age” years I decided to act on the desire to create with glass.  After weeks of books, magazines, and Internet searching I discovered that setting up a “hot glass shop” with furnaces and all the needed equipment was a very expensive project.  Of course, you need a place that is not code or ordinance restricted to install such a shop in the first place.


After expressing my disappointment to several glass artists one of them suggested I start with lampworking (using torches instead of furnaces) and work my way up to creating large glass pieces.  Since I knew nothing about making glass beads with a torch, he pointed me toward some good books and I started researching all over again. 


I discovered that glass bead making is a much more affordable hobby and can be done from a properly equipped home or workshop.  Somewhere between my ignorance and my ego I had the idea I would start out melting glass on little steel rods to learn how glass behaved and work my way up to “real” glass art.  Despite having an “artistic sense” and a good eye for color, I had no idea of the potential of glass beads as an art form. 


1000 Glass Beads from Lark Books (Sterling Publishing, NY) is the book that could have brought me out of my ignorance back then.  This beautiful publication is 400 pages of full color “eye candy”.  But more than that, it is a reference manual for glass bead makers. Each photograph includes detailed information about the materials used to make the bead as well as some comments from the artist.  My “middle age” eyes did not like the gray type used for the artists’ comments, but I did like the fold over flap on the front and back covers for a built-in bookmark and the bright white, heavy paper (this is a high quality paperback).


1000 Glass Beads represents 312 artists from around the world.  These are not all the great glass bead artists, but, to be fair, it would be nearly impossible to find and include every talented glass bead artist in the world in one book.  Not all artists have Internet sites, actively sell their work, or choose to be involved with groups of other artists.  I have been fortunate to study under some of these artists and I hope to study under many more.  Their love of glass is apparent in their classes as well as on the pages of 1000 Glass Beads. 


The range of art in this book is both daunting and inspiring.  Some of these works of art will simply stun you with their complexity, but most of them will inspire you to reach for higher levels of expression.  This book will certainly dispel any notion you may have that beads are “light” art or that you might quickly “outgrow” the potential of the glass bead as an art medium.  The limit will not be found in the glass.  It will be found in your potential for creativity. 


Although not a tutorial, 1000 Glass Beads includes examples of many techniques in a range of complexity.  It is left to the reader to review the materials used and determine what specific methods could be used to create something similar.  Since artists often learn by trying to copy the work of masters, this book offers hundreds of opportunities.  Where the artist grows after acquiring some skill is dependent upon their own “gift”.  There are also samples of fused glasswork, but the real bonus is the jewelry.  There are many examples of beads made into finished jewelry pieces that also inspire you to make beautiful necklaces and bracelets from your beads. 


1000 Glass Beads by Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader should be in every glass bead maker’s library. More than any book on glass bead making that I have seen, it will show you where you are as a glass artist.  It is exciting to see where dedicated and talented glass bead artists have gone, but it also motivates me to try to create something that has never been seen before in a glass bead.


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