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by Carolyn Jankovskis

Claudia Trimbur-Pagel

Lambersart, France

Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Claudia: I started bead making two years ago.

What got you started making beads?
It was by accident… I was looking for material for mosaics and found some glass rods. I found some information on the web about beadmaking and I couldn’t resist to try it out.

Were you interested in making beads before that?
No, I don’t wear a lot of jewelry.

Did you have an artistic or craft history before that? How has that translated into the beadmaking, if at all?
Yes, I worked as a graphic designer and illustrator. I like to create things with my hands, I knit a lot, I like sewing and painting… I made a lot of mosaics, especially with glass.

Can you share a photo of some of your other works with us?
Yes, of course !

Did you take a class?
I took classes when I started bead making with two German bead makers.

What has surprised you most about working with glass?
I didn’t expect that working with glass can make you obsessive... you can’t think about anything else !

Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.
My husband. He always gives me courage for  work and helps me by giving advice. He put up with the noise of my torch (I started with a simple propane torch from my husband and I worked in our living-room) every evening.

Whose beads inspire you the most?
There are a lot of different beads, or parts/elements of a bead from different beadmakers that inspire me.

Do you sell your beads?
Yes, but when I started to sell them, it was really difficult, because I considered them a bit like my children.  But I can’t keep them all, and sometimes I like to sell all of them and then create new beads with another new style.

Did you intend to sell your beads when you first started? What got you started selling them?
Yes, at first there where friends who asked me to sell them some beads.

Do you make beads for friends?
I love to make beads for friends, I like to make a surprise for them !

What does your spouse/children/family/friends think of your beadmaking?
They all love it. My eldest son even tried to make beads as well and he was very proud of his efforts!

What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
I work with a minor bench torch with an oxygen concentrator. My kiln is a RANA Bead Annealer, I like this large chamber with many places for a lot of beads.

What type of glass do you use?
Moretti and Lauscha.

Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
No favorite product, but a glass color : periwinkle blue (moretti), I use a lot of rods of this color.

Do you have a favorite beadmaking book or piece of instructional material (video, etc.)?
I love all the books from James Kervin, they are very instructive !

Do you have a favorite technique?
Yes, I like to make complex designs with very fine stringers.

Are you a “set person” or a “focal bead” person?
I prefer making focal beads, I am not disciplined enough to make several of the same bead. When I make sets, they are often composed of very different beads.

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 tried to make beads with birds with very complex designs. But I recognized that you must simplify the designs and work with the technical restriction of glass. So I started to make sandpiper beads with simple superimposed dots.

What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
To find the best moment/temperature for encasing beads.

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

The easiest?
Spirals with stringers.

What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
Making goddess' with a point of humor. I like to work with gravity for giving them sculptural forms.

Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Yes, I keep them in a little box. They all remember little radish…

How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
Yes, they become round now !

What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Running out of propane on a Saturday evening !

Do you have a humorous beadmaking experience or moment to share with us?
Sorry, my English isn’t good enough to tell the story….

Have you had any “glass epiphanies” while working – some revelation or understanding? What were they?
No revelation but a great feeling of luck while working glass.

Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?
I like to paint on glass beads with liquid gold paint that must be annealed at 1100° F. That makes them sparkling and permits me to make very fine designs.

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 always listen to the news on the radio, or sometimes I listen to discs of German musicians (I am German but I've lived in France for 16 years now).

Do you have any advice or encouraging words for someone who is just starting out in glass?
Persistence is very important, but I think it is also important to find your own expression, new shapes, designs, even if the first attempts aren’t very nice.

Have you “invented” any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn’t ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?
No, I have not.

Could you share with us some pictures of your studio set up?
I don't have a studio yet, I am working on the edge of my living-room table, but I can show you a photo of my future studio which is nearly ready.

How much time do you spend making beads (in hours) per week? Is it enough?
I never count the time I spend on my torch, but it always passes too quickly !

What about photographing your beads – what do you use to get your pictures and do you have any tips or tricks to share?
My husband gave me a digital reflex camera, it was a really great gift ! I take most of my photos in my garden on the floor of my terrace. The texture of the concrete makes a nice contrast with the glass.

Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on? If so, what is the url/id info, etc.  
Sometimes I sell beads on ebay. You can find the link on my web site

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 mostly sell jewelry. I sell them in a little store in my town, or in shows in northern France.

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?
Both ! I sometimes like to make a lot of experiments for fun and sometimes I like to make a lot of simple beads for selling. It must be a good balance.

Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
I hope that I will learn a lot about working with glass.

Do you have a favorite bead, a “best bead.” Can you share a photograph with us?
Yes, it isn’t a very originally bead but I was one of the first beads that looks really like I imagined it before (I wanted to make a bouquet of flowers).

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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