Archived Featured Bead Artists
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by Carolyn Jankovskis

Sabrina Koebel

Birch Bay, WA

Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Sabrina Koebel: I’ve been making beads for 3 years now. And loving every minute of it!!!

What got you started making beads?
I received a gift from my mother-in-law… a Lampwork Watch!!! It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!!!

Were you interested in making beads before that?
I honestly had no clue that glass work could be done on such a small scale so it never entered my mind. I was always interested in glass blowing but never found the time to go play. So finding out that Lampwork beads could be done in a much smaller way was so enlightening!!! I was sold from the first gift!!!

Did you have an artistic or craft history before that? How has that translated into the beadmaking, if at all?
Oh Yes!!! I was always doing something…painting, drawing, pottery, sewing…you name it I’ve given it a try. Yep! Even Jewelry!!! 

Did you take a class?
I’ve never taken a class on bead making or anything that has to do with Lampworking, Glass Blowing, or Fusing. I am self taught.

What has surprised you most about working with glass?
It surprised me at how much fun it would be and how easy it was for me to get the hang of it. I loved the “instant gratification” I felt when I’d open my kiln up to find lots of little tiny treasures inside, and I was even more surprised that my beads were wanted by others for use in their jewelry design!!!

Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.
I actually don’t. Some days I truly wish I had one!!!

Whose beads inspire you the most?
I honestly can say that I have many bead artists that inspire me!!! For their use of color as well as design they inspire me to play and enjoy the medium I’ve chosen as my favorite!!! Some of those people are Candice Seeber, Paulette Insall, Cassandra Barragan, Kristine Dery, Dustin Tabor, Farmer Dave (aka Dave Grahm), Amy Cornett, Kim Miles, and the list goes on and on and on… There are even some boro artists on my extended list!!! LOL I love them all!!!

Do you sell your beads? 
I do sell my beads (and I keep lots too)!!! On my website, , on ebay(user id sabrinadesign) and on etsy, an auction site for handmade objects (again, my user name is sabrinadesign) ,  as well as in some bead stores like Beads Galore in Tempe, AZ.

Did you intend to sell your beads when you first started? What got you started selling them?
My intent was to make beads to use in my jewelry. Then it evolved into selling them to support my glass addiction. I couldn’t make more beads without glass and jewelry without beads…So there it happened!!! Ebay was the first place I sold my beads.

Do you make beads for friends?
I always make beads for friends!!! As they say, “The best things in life are Friends and Beads” right? You bet!!!

What does your spouse/children/family/friends think of your beadmaking?
My children think I’m the coolest mom on earth, and my husband is so proud of my talent that he has been known to talk me up to anyone that will listen. My extended family are all supportive and don’t hesitate to show off my beads to anyone…including bead stores, galleries, etc!!! Sometimes it’s down right embarrassing but I know they do it out of love and I wouldn’t have it any other way. : )

What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
My torch is a very old Minor torch (time for a new one)…but I love it!!! I use an oxygen concentrator and propane with it, and for my bead kiln I use an AIM with the works.

What type of glass do you use?
I use Effetre, Vetrofond, Lauscha, Messy, Ask, Bullseye, Olympic, Momka, Northstar, and that list goes on too!!! LOL If I see it and I like it I tend to want to take it home.

Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc?
I love FosterFire bead release! Love it!!!

Do you have a favorite beadmaking book or piece of instructional material (video, etc.)?
I love my Passing the Flame book. It’s the one I use to show friends and my children how bead making is done. It’s definitely fun to look at with all the colors and photos!!!

Do you have a favorite technique?
I love encased florals and raised scrolls!!!

Are you a “set person” or a “focal bead” person?
Both!!! I love to make sets depending on how the glass is flowing. If it’s being cranky I might only do one or two but if it’s movin and groovin I’ll stick with it until I get bored!!! And for focals I love LARGE focals!!! They’re fun to make as well as play with after they’re done. Definitely a rewarding bead to make!!!

Have you developed a “signature” bead, a unique type of bead that is recognizably yours. Tell us about it, how you developed it, etc.
The Diva! Is my signature bead. I started making Diva’s after I found out that my Aunt Brenda was diagnosed with Stage Four Breast Cancer. They started off wearing clothes until she had the mass removed from her breast and from there they became uncovered. Bearing their flesh in it’s many shapes and sizes…flaws and all!!! Because I believe that we, as women, are all beautiful even if we’re missing a breast, have droopy buns, a round belly, or no belly!!! We’re gorgeous!!! And we all need to let our Diva out!!!

What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Not being afraid to succeed.

What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?
Anything to do with using Frit!!! LOL I know…how simple is that!!! But for me to use frit and have a bead turn out gorgeous is a dream of mine…one that I haven’t seen yet. But I keep trying!!!

The easiest?
Encased florals!!! That might be why they’re my favorite. ;)

What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
Encased florals!!! Love to make them!!! Not to mention they’re a wonderful bead to use in my jewelry!!!

Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
I do!!! They’re tucked away in a deep dark drawer!!! LOL I haven’t brought them out for over a year now.

How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
They have…Change is inevitable…it happens to the best of us…especially when we’re not looking. ; )

What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Oh My Goodness!!! I was actually playing with boro. Making an off mandrel heart. The rod cracked and dropped the focal down onto my work area where it decided to bounce around and tried to land in my lap!!! YIKES!!! That one had me jumping!!!

Do you have a humorous beadmaking experience or moment to share with us?
See the note above… That whole incident was observed by my oldest daughter who laughed her buns off at me!!! And still laughs if it is brought up in conversation. Will I ever live that one down? ;) lol I doubt it!!!

Have you had any “glass epiphanies” while working – some revelation or understanding? What were they?
Wow!!! I’ve had a few…The first one was when I was new to making beads…Using different sized mandrels. I found that I could make smaller beads easier with 1/16th sized mandrels. And that it was easier to make large focals with the larger 3/32nd or 1/8th mandrels. And then there was the day that I figured out how to make drawer pulls directly onto the hardware. Wow!!!

Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?
I have some simple tutorials on my website and there are more to come in the next few months.

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?
I listen to music, alternative rock, as well as audio books. I think that if I put a television in my work space that I’d have another Jumping episode!!!

Do you have any advice or encouraging words for someone who is just starting out in glass?
Don’t be afraid to mess up!!! Some mess-ups turn into the best beads or learning experiences!!! Use them to grow.

Have you “invented” any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn’t ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?
No new tools but I do love my razor tool!!! It’s perfect for the creases in my raised flowers or for dragging the petals of my rose buds.

Could you share with us some pictures of your studio set up?
I have some old ones…they don’t show my mess though. ; ) And I’m definitely messy!!! I love the glass lying all around on my table. It gives me inspiration!!!

How much time do you spend making beads (in hours) per week? Is it enough?
I spend between 8 and 16 hours a week at the torch. I wish I could do more but my children are more important and they win out every time!!!

What about photographing your beads – what do you use to get your pictures and do you have any tips or tricks to share?
Oh! No way!!! I don’t like my photos and definitely wouldn’t want anyone taking photos using my method. LOL It’s a loose – loose situation!!! ;)

Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on? If so, what is the url/id info, etc. 
My website is I also use ebay and etsy for auction/sales sites.  User names on both auction sites are sabrinadesigns .

Do you sell at shows or in stores or other venues? Do you sell the beads by themselves, or already made up into jewelry?
I sell at shows…but not my beads. I sell my jewelry at shows and will be a Vendor at the Seattle Trade Show this year…which one? Well, the one at the end of the month as well as June. I also will be attending the Seattle Gift Show in November.

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?
It’s both!!! I’ve been very blessed to find a passion that has turned into a business!!!

Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
I definitely plan on making beads as long as my hands will let me and my eyesight holds out!!!

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


Beading Times is pleased to present a monthly article spotlighting a lampwork bead artist. If you, or someone you know is interested in being featured, please contact

Copyright 2007 Carolyn Jankovskis. Photos by and copyright by the interviewee, unless stated otherwise.

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