Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Evolution of a Bead Style by a Bead Artist, Lara Lutrick

This blog post will talk about how the bead on the left evolved into the bead on the right (with a few beads in-between).
This last week I attended the International Society of GlassBeadmaker’s (ISGB) annual convention in Bellevue Washington. This was the 20th year anniversary and the theme was Evolution. We had several presenters showing the evolution of their work. I have been meaning to show an evolution of a particular favorite bead of mine since I started blogging, but keep putting if off. Listening to their presentations has motivated me to share the evolution these beads. 

The bead on the left above is the earliest photo of a bead I made with intense black (IB) webbing. I know I made some earlier, but I got my camera around this time. Jim Smircich made this effect popular. Sadly I could not find a current website for him, but you can still buy a book by Jim Kervin on his techniques multiple places, just look for the title:The Classic Bead Shapes of Jim Smircich and his Amazing Control of Heat.  I took a class from Jim and also one from Kimberly Affleck where I learned more about using IB.  Frequently done on ivory, I liked to use IB on color as seen in the copper green and sunrise coral below.  (The initial photo above is the very first sample rod I had of opal yellow (OY). The bead was made with the original ½ rod sample we were given when it first came out. I got a great little bit of pink on the top of the bead (that original OY was very reactive.)
As you can see the IB is not spreading much. I was working on a hot head (HH) at this time and the heat was not really enough to get the IB to spread like I wanted it to. I also suspect I was using too much IB.  I did get some great color on that coral bead though!

At the same time I also made the beads above These beads have a twisty over silvered ivory bead and twisted with a rod of manufactured aventurine blue. I liked the blue/green reactions I was getting with these beads a lot. I didn’t made too many of these because someone when I asked for a critique said the transparent brown areas looked like worm holes. This is one of those beads that I think about trying again now that I have a few more years under the belt.
I found the photo above when searching for beads to use on this post and had forgotten this bead of intense black and white over silvered ivory.  I think this maybe a twisty, but I cannot tell, it also maybe blobs of glass melted in. I wanted to get the great spreading of IB over the bead to get that really lacy patterned that I saw in others’ beads, but on the HH I just couldn’t do it. 

One day I picked up the very tiny last piece of original OY I had. It was maybe an inch or two long and I wanted to use it was not sure what to do with it. Given the neat colors I was getting out of my IB beads and from that original bead I wanted to use it again, so I made a twisty out of a thin layer of IB and OY. I put it on top of an ivory bead with silver leaf and out of the kiln came my favorite bead I had ever made up until that point. The colors I got were amazing. Check out the pink flush on the OY and the blues lines in the bottom. Not knowing that all future batches of OY would not be the same, I sold this bead. Oh how I wish I still had this bead. Every bead I made in this style after this bead was an attempted to recreate this bead and they were not a success. This was one of the first beads that people asking how I made it.

I moved onto my current torch a mini CC and this bead style did not work. The heat of the torch was so much hotter than the HH and the OY and IB twisty would disappear as the ivory glass encroached over the top. While still interesting these beads didn’t have enough color for me. Very disappointed that I couldn’t get the same look on my mini cc I thought about what to do. 

 After taking a class from Michael Barley I decided to use cobalt blue glass with silver foil/leaf on top of it to create the reaction I liked but keep that base glass from spreading up over the twisty. This was a great solution. It added more color to my bead and was a popular style of my work. I even wrote a tutorial on how to do this bead for The Glass Bead ; summer 2008 (the publication of the ISGB). The top left bead is the bead made in that tutorial. If you are an ISGB member, you can see the tutorial at this link: ISGB MEMBER TUTORIALS.
About two years prior to the tutorial I was starting to use the wonderful silver glasses from Double Helix (DH). I got hooked on their rainbow colors and iridescent finishes. I made beads with the OY and IB twisties over Kronos (as I liked the blue color I was getting from Cobalt) and I was not happy with the results. There was too much blue and it fumed the OY darker than I wanted. I was using the DH glass mostly in small beads and with ivory and I liked the reaction I was getting between the silvered glass and the ivory.

This is an early set of Gaia and light ivory.
One day I thought I should just made my twisty for the surface of the bead out of silvered glass so I wouldn’t have to use my leaf/foil on the base bead and then I could switch the base back to ivory as in my original beads. I found long beads easier to make out of ivory as it is so soft and the glass moves down the mandrel better when I let heat and gravity help create the long bead. The bead above was the first bead I made with my new technique. I liked the reaction I got from the ivory and the glow from the silvered glass. I did think that the dark ivory reaction was overwhelming the bead, so I moved to light ivory (Vetrofond).
I made this bead with the light ivory and I was hooked. I really liked the little cells created as the silvered glass (Gaia) reacted with the ivory.  I received nice compliments on the internet lampworking boards about this bead and from Jed whom creates the DH glass. I was really pleased with the kudos and with the style of beads I was creating.

This is a gallery of similar beads in this style. From top to bottom and left to right: gaia, nyx, psyche and gaia. I don’t know how I got these purples from Gaia in the last bead, but every bead since this has been an attempted to replicate that bead. This is another bead I wish I never sold.

It is hard to believe I have been making this style since 2006, it doesn’t seem like that long. I have moved to other styles and don’t make these that often, but did make many for the convention last weekend and several people got some in trade or purchased and it made my day that people like my style of beads. I had a lot of people say that these are the beads they think of when they think of me and I do too.

In 2007 when this type of bead bead was still fairly new for me there was a call for entries from ISGB for a new collaboration exhibit. This was one of the first collaborations my dad and I did and this was our entry for Connextions.

As for the first bead on the top of this post (another view of the same bead here), it was the bead I made specifically for and was accepted the ISGB Perspectives exhibition in 2009. It traveled over the US and went to the Kobe Lampwork Glass Museum in Kobe Japan. It was featured in the museum’s magazine: LAMMAGA.  Guess what? This bead I saved and did not sell. 

I really like thinking about how a design came about and I can see a direct line between the two original beads and I hope you can too. If you read this far, thank you so much. 


  1. Very interesting reading and some beautiful beads! Thanks for sharing!

  2. THanks for taking the time to read. :-)

  3. Fantastic article Lara!!! Thanks so much for sharing!