5 Reasons to Love Glass Beads

I am delighted to introduce today's guest editor, Jamie Hogsett. I met Jamie when she was the editor of Stringing and she published one of my very first designs.  Jamie is the author of Stringing Style and co-author of the Create Jewelry series. She is also one of Beadwork's "Designers of the Year" with projects forthcoming in every magazine issue in 2009. I am excited about Jamie's new book Create Jewelry: Glass because when I reorganized my bead stash last month, I discovered I had more glass beads than any other type.  If you hoard glass beads like me, you'll be happy to know that you can save 10% off the book's price for one week only.–Michelle Mach, Beading Daily editor

5 Reasons Why Glass is One of My Favorite Bead Types

by Jamie Hogsettglass-beads

To my delight, an advanced copy of my new book, Create Jewelry: Glass, arrived a couple of days ago. It’s been nearly a year since I finished making the projects and writing the instructions. Seeing the projects in print brings back memories of just how much fun this book was to make. Of the four books in the Create Jewelry series (the others being Pearls, Stones, and Crystals), the Glass book is the one I most enjoyed. Why? Because I love glass beads! Here are five reasons why you might love them too:

1: Glass beads are colorful. If you’ve been to a bead store or a bead show, or even shopped for beads online, you know that glass beads are available in every color under the rainbow, especially when it comes to seed beads. In many bead stores, there are more colors of seed beads than there are paint chips at the hardware store. That’s a lot of options!

2: Glass is a shape-shifter. When glass is in its molten form, it’s technically a liquid, and therefore can be melted and molded into pretty much any shape imaginable. Need a bead in the shape of an acorn? A fish? An Eiffel Tower? No doubt you’ll find it in glass. I have some Czech pressed glass Hello Kitty beads that I just adore.

3: Glass beads are international. While flipping through my book, I counted up all the countries of origin for the glass beads used. The beads come from over half a dozen locations, including Italy, the Czech Republic, Japan, Indonesia, and several places in Africa. Glass beads are everywhere. Luckily.

glass-beads4: Glass beads are personal. Lampworked glass beads are my absolute favorite type of bead. My collection of art beads grows after nearly every show I attend. I love handmade beads because I get to meet and talk with the talented people who make them. They’re super friendly folks.

5: Glass beads are versatile. The fact that glass beads come in so many different sizes, from tiny (size 30° seed beads and smaller) to huge (the largest bead I’ve worked with was about 30mm x 75mm), means they can be used for anything. Beaders can use glass beads to string a necklace, stitch a bracelet, cover a surface, and sculpt just about anything. The possibilities are truly endless!

Why do you love glass beads?  Who are your favorite glass beadmakers?  Share your thoughts on the website.  

 Jamie Hogsett is a jewelry designer and Soft Flex Company's Education Coordinator. She is author of Stringing Style and coauthor of the Create Jewelry series: Pearls, Crystals, Stones, and Glass. She will be teaching at Bead Fest Santa Fe in March 2009.  Jamie enjoys combining seed beads with just about all other beads and findings and finds that circular square stitch is pretty much the perfect stitch. Contact Jamie through her blog, jamiehogsett.blogspot.com. 

Related Posts:


Beading Daily Blog, Glass Beads
Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at beadingdaily@interweave.com or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  www.michellemach.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/beadsandbooks Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

17 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Love Glass Beads

  1. The harvesting of precious metals and stones can involve environmental destruction, exploitation of workers and even wars. Glass is just as pretty and has much less impact on the planet!

  2. To JoyceP:

    Have you really thought about your comment?

    What do you think glass beads are made of, fairy dust and unicorn fur? Silica and other elements are mined, usually in dirty open-pit operations. Glass makers aren’t scooping up sand from your local beach. Silica is also one of the leading environmental causes of lung cancer (silicosis).

    You like pink glass? Well, I hope you also like arsenic, since that’s what makes pink glass pink (arsenic and lead by-products from the jewelry and glass factories poisoned the Providence River in Rhode Island, and it’s just recovering now – 30 years after the costume jewelry industry left that area). What about red glass? You’ll need to mine some gold to get that color – and the last time I checked, gold mining and processing are not environmentally friendly processes. Those lovely blue glass beads you’ve been admiring – that takes cobalt, another highly toxic material.

    There are lots of reasons to love glass beads, but thinking they are better for the environment than stone beads is just being ill-informed.

  3. I adore glass beads because you don’t have to have a lot of money to get beautiful beads. Most of the time it’s how you “see” the beads. I’m a gleaner and have gotten some really ugly, misshapen, and odd glass beads in grab bags and such. I have always kept them tucked away in their own little box, because you’ll never know when the ugly duckling will be inspired into a beautiful swan.

  4. I absolutely love everything about glass beads…especially the colors! I have since learned to make my own lampwork beads. It certainly isn’t easy. I have so many favorite lampwork bead artists…some of them have recognizable names, some are just small solo operators at home with a simple torch head and a can of propane…All are a terrific inspiration. I belong to forums where even glass newbies inspire each other! Lately I have been pairing organic-looking glass beads with gemstone beads and I even etch glass beads to look more like stone or even beach glass. The possibilities truly are endless!

  5. I love glass beads because they are shiny! It’s been dubbed “racoonism”. I just love glass and beads are the most affordable piles of glass I can collect. I have branched out to kiln working glass so I can have even bigger piles. But more expensive and you can’t run it through your fingers without getting sliced. I considered lampworking but decided that I am afraid of fire that close to my face. My brother-in-law sells beads but they are stone – turquoise, lapis etc – and they just don’t have the fire and sparkle of glass.

  6. I also love glass beads. But just one comment. Glass, even when a “solid” is a liquid…the one thing I remember from Materials Science class in Engineering.

  7. I love everything about glass beads! The sparkle and shine of the smooth cool surfaces. The way it warms to your skin when worn. The way they sound when you run them through your fingers. And the colors and effects that are possible in glass, never cease to mesmerize me! Lampworked beads are my favorite, and some of the pure beauty I have seen in this artform is breathtaking. My favorite glass bead artisans? That is tough. But at the top of my list would be:Amy K (aka the Flamekeeper) Sue of SueBeads, and Emma od EJR beads, just to name a few. But there are so many talented people I have seen online at Etsy and other venues, that this list would truly have to be endless!

  8. THANK YOU!!! Even though I love Beading Daily, I don’t do any “beading”. I was getting vry frustrated by always receiving Emails about buying past issues and other books. Not many of the mails appeal to me and they quickly get deleted… (I just love the fact that I get Emails about beads) But I thank you so much for this mail about glass beads. I do not believe in spending all the money on crystal beads when glass beads are so much more gorgeous! colorful! cheaper! versatile! readily available! So thanks for Jamie’s column, truly inspirational- and correct! 1,000 reasons to love glass beads!

  9. I.love.glass.beads. I love making them, I love using them in jewelry. I love playing with them. They sparkle and they glow.
    They are cool to the touch and warm with body heat. Favorite glass bead artists? All of them.

  10. My teacher, DawnElla Whitney, began making lampwork beads several years ago, and her beads have inspired me to make wonderful necklaces which attract all sorts of people. She shares her beads each Christmas with her students by allowing us to pick one as a present from her. Sometimes it takes me quite a while to imagine and then create just the right setting for one of her beads, but her beads really stimulate my creative juices. My love of glass beads has led me on a journey to meet new people and has opened the door to a whole new creative part of my life. I like to think of my life as having stages, and being a bead artist is my fifth stage.

  11. I make my own glass beads, but some of my favorite bead artists are: Pam Brisse, The Blue Between, from Edmonds, Washington; Debby Gwaltney, Starlight Beads, Arkansas; and Amber Van Meter, Naos, from Colorado.

  12. Hi,
    I love looking and buying lampwork / glass beads. The only real problem I have is how to incorporate them in a necklace or bracelet. I need design ideas, besides just stringing a whole bunch on a string.

    The designers must have had a purpose for making these beads in the various styles and shapes. Yet they never show how they would use the bead in a jewerly piece.

    In the past I used to purchase “Stringing magazine”,and “Bead Style”, they were the only one ‘s who would sometimes incorporate a lampwork bead into a jewerly project. But they have been skimping on the pages, therefore I lost interest in buying the magazines.

    I purchased the BeadMaster which is another designer lampwork / glass designer book, again its missing what they would call the “gallery ” page. Just like the newer books that are out . Know one shows how to put these handmade beads into a project. Especially the ones with the flowers and the vines.

    I hope in the future we will see a gallery page using the lampwork beads. It helps to know how best to show off these beautiful beads in jewerly.
    mona lisa

  13. Welcome to the world of recycled glass beads, straight from the furnace. An unusual concept but it works very well: jewellery, ornated flatware, you name it.

    People love the idea of having glass beaded cake server or salad sets or a glass topped jam and honey spoon with a kink.

    Have a look and enjoy http://www.aramica.co.uk