Vivian Bansal

February 2008


Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Vivian Bansal: Three Years

What got you started making beads?
I have always loved gemstones, rocks and natural elements. As a child, I collected gemstones, rocks and beads – basically anything that I could find to make jewelry and various artistic projects. Of course, this love extended into adulthood. One day while shopping for glass beads, I realized that I could possibly make them myself, but at that time I had no idea where to begin. In 2005, when I moved to the island of Saba in the Dutch Caribbean, I had my first encounter with Lampworking. It was on that tiny volcanic rock in the middle of the Caribbean Sea that my passion for glass bead making was born.

Were you interested in making beads before that?

Honestly, I have always had an immense collection of beads, (organized by color – ha!) but I never realized that I could make my own beads before my first experience with lampworking.

Did you have an artistic or craft history before that? How has that translated into the beadmaking, if at all?

My life, be it a job, family or leisure, has always been one encompassing all manners of art. I have always found a way to notice or add to the natural beauty around me. An example of how I intertwined art and life includes my collegiate degree in Therapeutic Recreation; during my internship, I concentrated on an art therapy focus for disabled children with special needs. While creating art projects, not only did we work on the children’s specific goals, we were having fun and creating wonderful art pieces!

I do believe that my artistic history has helped in my ability to create beads. As a visual person, I am able to use my sense of color and light to help enhance the specific color combinations that I use in glass beadmaking. Once the beads are made, I then can easily incorporate them in jewelry designs because this is what I did prior to making my own beads. This entire process feels natural and is smooth transition.     

Did you take a class?

No, I didn’t take one particular class. I was actually an apprentice to my great friend - Jo Bean Chambers for two years.  Now, I continue my education and take classes from various glass artists.

What has surprised you most about working with glass?

It is the feeling that I get every time I melt glass; a moment in which I hear the roar of the flame, see the flames dance with the glass, feel the glass change before my eyes – I feel at home, at peace.

Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.

There are many people that I admire but as far as mentors are concerned, I do not have just one person. I tend to use my life experiences and environment as my mentor.

Whose beads inspire you the most?
Ayako Hattori, Sarah Hornik, Kim Miles, Micheal Barley, Anastasia, and Andrea Guarino-Slemmons, just to name a few!

Do you sell your beads?
Yes, I sell my beads on eBay at:

Did you intend to sell your beads when you first started? What got you started selling them?

Yes, I intended to sell my beads when I first started, but I am very particular and detail oriented with all of my art projects, and so it took a little time before I began selling them. I initially gave my beads and jewelry designs to family and friends; as a result, I found that there was a growing interest as others would see my creations and would ask my family members where they “bought” the particular jewelry piece. Of course, they had to explain that I hand-made the beads and the idea of selling authentic Vivian’s Vision lampwork glass designs was born!

Do you make beads for friends?

I always enjoyed hand-crafted items - they are the most heart-felt gifts that one can receive. So yes,  I most certainly give my beads to friends as gifts. I love sharing my passion for glass!

What does your spouse/children/family/friends think of your beadmaking?

My family members are very supportive and understanding of my beadmaking. My husband is my number one fan and is the first person to encourage me to grow and educate myself in this art form. My family and husband are happy for me because they know that I have finally found my passion.

What sort of set up do you have for making beads?

I was taught on a Nortel Minor, but currently have a portable setup, including a hot head with MAPP gas and chili pepper kiln, as I travel the states with my husband who is completing his medical school education. I plan on setting up my dream studio in summer 2008 once he begins residency.

What type of glass do you use?

I use Effetre/Moretti, Vetrofond, CiM, ASK 104, and Double Helix glass. Eventually, I would like to experiment with Japanese Satake glass.

Do you have any favorite colors or combinations of glass rod to work with?

Dark ivory is always nice. I tend to use combinations of blues & greens.

Do these colors (or combos.) create a special reaction when used in a certain way?

Ivory and silver foil lends to a natural and organic ambience that resemble rocks in a river.

Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.

I love using my electric bead reamer. It makes cleaning the beads so easy! As far as glass is concerned, I love Rubino Oro.

Do you have a favorite beadmaking book or piece of instructional material (video, etc.)?

Contemporary Lampworking by Bandhu Scott Dunham.

Do you have a favorite technique?

I believe that any color reaction is simply magic. I enjoy experimenting to see what new blend of color will occur.

Are you a “set” person or a “focal bead” person?

I make sets as well as focals. It really depends on my mood that day.

Have you developed a “signature” bead, a unique type of bead that is recognizably yours. Tell us about it, how you developed it, etc.

I believe that a Vivian’s Vision signature bead is one which is the manifestation of the beauty which surrounds us… it is organic, bright, colorful… a representation of the circle of life.

What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?

So far, the biggest obstacle that I have encountered is the lapse in time when I could not make beads because I was relocating with my husband for medical school.  I felt lost when I could not light up the torch!

What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?

Sculptural beads and complex encased flower formations are the hardest.

The easiest?

Small round Beads – although it wasn’t easy when I first started making beads I was so concerned about the ‘perfect’ round shape and I practiced and practiced. Now, I appreciate larger and organic shapes because it is the irregularities that I find interesting and unique.

What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?

I truly enjoy creating lentils and button shaped beads.

Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?

Yes, I still have my first beads. I keep them in front of me so that I can see how far I have come.

When I look at them, I can see that my color choices haven’t changed that much and I am still attracted to the same influences when I make beads – nature. Overall, they are ‘pretty special’ but they really look funky.

How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?

Everyday I am discovering what I like or don’t like. I believe that I have an innate tendency to love the organic and raw aspects of nature. At times, I can see those elements in my beads. My beads are constantly evolving but I definitely see cleaner and more defined elements from my clumsy beginnings over three years ago.

What was your scariest beadmaking experience?

Back in the early days, I would think crazy thoughts like, ‘what if the gas canister blew up,’ or ‘what if I burn the house down!’ Those thoughts would eat at me so much that I would periodically ‘inspect’ my set-up to make sure that everything was fine.  Now that’s scary ☺.

Currently, my scariest bead making experience is not being able to make beads! Since my husband is a medical student we have moved three times and in those transitions there were months when I could not light up the torch!

Do you have a humorous beadmaking experience or moment to share with us?

When my husband and I return home on breaks, half the car is literally packed with my supplies… glass, kiln, jewelry tools, more glass, glass tools, more glass… you get the hint. After we make the 8 hour drive back home, I unload all of my supplies and by the time my family comes home from work there is a glass and bead bonanza on the table and floor. Once they see the mess, they know that their daughter is home.

Have you had any “glass epiphanies” while working – some revelation or understanding? What were they?

Just peace….I suppose that can be a revelation. But it’s great!

Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?

I tend to make Maria’s on the end of a glass rod when I need to pull stringer – the flat surface is really helpful because it allows me to build a larger size gather for complex striped cane.

A Maria is a disc-like shape that is several times larger than the diameter of the rod. It is formed by compressing the end of a glass rod onto a flat surface. To make a Maria, hold the end of the glass rod in the flame in your dominant hand. Adjust the flame of the torch to a narrow, sharp edge flame so that it is not too hot. Turn the glass evenly and slowly so that the flame soaks the glass. Once the glass is soft and molten, remove it from the flame and press down onto a flat surface such as graphite so that a disc shape is formed onto the end of the glass rod. And voila, a Maria!


Do you listen to music when you work, or prefer complete silence? If you listen to music what is your favorite type of music or artist to listen to while you work?

No music for me…I would sing along and get distracted. If I start listening, it would definitely be something like instrumental light jazz.

Do you have any advice or encouraging words for someone who is just starting out in glass?

The best advice I can give to someone who is just starting out in glass is to let your own inner voice speak. Don’t try to be like another beadmaker, just be yourself. As I have continued to grow and learn, I have realized that my personality naturally reveals itself  in the type of beads that I make.

Have you “invented” any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn’t ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?

Not yet…but maybe someday… I do use a stainless steel putty knife sometimes.

Could you share with us some pictures of your studio set up?

I am currently building a studio… so I have to wait patiently – but the patience part is hard!

How much time do you spend making beads (in hours) per week? Is it enough?

I spend about 25 hrs per week making beads – the rest of the time, I am updating my website, taking pictures and uploading them to eBay.  Enough… it’s never enough. I think about beads when I sleep!

What about photographing your beads – what do you use to get your pictures and do you have any tips or tricks to share?

I use a Digital Canon Power Shot and a light box – most of my pictures are clear and I am happy with them.


Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on? If so, what is the url/id info, etc.
Yes, I sell my beads on eBay:

And I have a website:

Do you sell at shows or in stores or other venues? Do you sell the beads by themselves, or already made up into jewelry?

When I attend shows, I mostly sell my beads in finished jewelry designs. I have yet to attend a show strictly selling beads. I find that I have had less time to make jewelry because I love making beads so much but I do have clients that want custom jewelry. That is when I will dust off the rosary pliers and get to work!

Is this a job, or a passion? Or both? How much of making beads/playing with hot glass is about just making them, vs making a living?

I have the distinct pleasure of stating that beadmaking is my passion. And I am fortunate to have this skill for my source of income.  That being said, I also do love to teach others to make their own beautiful beads. I love this art form and want to share it with as many people as I possibly can.

Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?

As far as skills are concerned, I would like to be proficient in making Murrini cane. As far as the profession is concerned, I see myself continuing to use my art form to ‘give back’ to my community and continue my involvement with charitable organizations. The future is bright! The possibilities are endless!

Do you have a favorite bead, a “best bead.” Can you share a photograph with us?

This bead is not my best bead by far, but it is one of my favorites and it is one that I made in my first six months of making beads. I like the cool colors and it was the first time that I didn’t burn out the dichro! This bead is called “Spring.”