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by Carolyn Jankovskis

Teila C. Hanks

Hooker, Oklahoma

Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Teila C. Hanks: I took my first class in Spring of 2003. It took me almost a year to save up enough money for my torch, kiln and tools. Back then I just made beads as a hobby only and took time out in 2004 to have my 5th baby. I didn't start going full swing until the Winter of 2005.

What got you started making beads?
My mother and I started buying and reselling beads from Sandy at The more fancy Indian made lampwork beads that went through our hands the more we wanted to learn how to make them ourselves. I had no idea what I was about to get myself into!

Were you interested in making beads before that?
 No, I have always loved beads but had no idea that I could make glass beads myself.

Did you have an artistic or craft history before that? How has that translated into the beadmaking, if at all?
Not really. I doodled on paper, made beaded jewelry for my daughters but never had anything win my heart over like lampworking. It wasn't until learning to lampwork that I found my artistic calling.

Did you take a class?
Yes, I dragged my mother and my aunt to a two day class by Cindy Brown in Colorado. We took the beginner and advanced classes. After Cindy's classes I've been on my own and learned to sculpt from trial and error.

What has surprised you most about working with glass?
Oh my, how addicting it is. I fell in love with it the moment I got to light that torch. But the best thing of all was receiving email from my customers telling me about how my critters made them smile. How you can take a rods of glass and turn them into something so sweet and special is amazing!

Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.
Cindy Brown, my first lampwork instructor. She had unbelievable patience and a fantastic sense of humor when teaching me the first steps to making beads, and my mother. My mom has been by my side during this whole journey! When I can't figure something out she helps me and vise versa. She is always there to encourage me and keep me going.

Whose beads inspire you the most?
Sharon Peters, whom I hope to someday meet. What an artist!

Do you sell your beads?

Did you intend to sell your beads when you first started? What got you started selling them?
It crossed my mind after taking Cindy's class. After finding out that lampwork is not as easy as it looks, I sat and wished to only be half as good as some of the well known artists.  I never thought I would start selling them so quickly. The first bead I sold was a gray dapple pony named George and I listed it on ebay in December of 2005.

Do you make beads for friends?

What does your spouse/children/family/friends think of your beadmaking?
My husband has been supportive from the beginning. My children are my biggest fans. They get just as excited to see what comes out of the kiln as I do and give the beads their very first inspection for quality out of hopes that they will find a mistake so that they can claim the bead for themselves.

What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
I use the basic hothead torch and mapp gas. I learned to make beads on the minor torch but I find the hothead to have a much wider flame to sculpt in and I can control my heat much better. So far there hasn't been anything that I can't make using a hothead torch. The studio is currently set up on my grandmother's enclosed patio next door. But I am saving for my dream studio. I use the Chili Pepper Bead Annealer with a Digital Controller.

What type of glass do you use?
I love to use Effetre/Moretti the most, but I can't resist mixing some of the odd colors from Vetrofond, Ask, Laushcha, and Messy.

Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
Yes, My favorite tool is my razor blade Utility Shaper, and a pair of tweezers that accidentally got melted into a very strange shape when I was trying to teach myself how to sculpt. They are perfect for the ears on my critters! I also like to use the Fusion Flame Dry separator.

Do you have a favorite beadmaking book or piece of instructional material (video, etc.)?
Yes,  "More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Glass Beadmaking" by James Kervin. It is a excellent book to refer back to when needed and loaded with all the information that you need... and then some! I also love to share my DVD "Torch Time with Molly Heynis".  She made learning the hothead torch a breeze for me.

Do you have a favorite technique?
Yep, jump right in and torture that hot glass! Pinch, tweeze, and twist that stuff to your hearts content! I can't make a set of rounds that match up too good but I sure can make one really nice one and build off that to create my Beasties. It sure took the "boring" right out of making a round bead!

Are you a “set person” or a “focal bead” person?
I am a focal bead person.

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 do, my ponies and horses. They started out as chubby little things with big wild manes and tails. Barely had any legs, but had the cutest expressions. Since then they have grown legs and I've tamed down the manes, but they still carry that Beastie Bead expression that most of my beads carry!

What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
To make bead sets. I can make one or two rounds that look great but when it comes to making large quantities of beads to put together a set, I have a huge struggle on my hands. I have managed to complete a few sets but I never sell them. Family and friends get to them first.

What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?
Anything that doesn't have eyes, nostrils, and a mouth. I just can't picture beads in my mind without them being critters. I am in awe of people that can make a set of round beads!

The easiest?
My ponies! That was the first critter I made and they've just gotten easier for me over the last year or so.

What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
I love all beads, but my favorite are sunken flowers. I would love to incorporate those into my animal beads!

Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Yes, and oh my gosh! Do I have to look at those again? Hahhaah, they are so funny!

How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
They have definitely changed and still do! I have found that this art is never ending and one thing always leads to another.

What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
I was pretty nervous when I walked into Cindy's class the first time, but the one thing that gets me every time is when I go into the flame too fast with a cold rod of glass and it starts shooting and blowing up everywhere. It doesn't  happen often but when it does it sure rattles my nerves.

Do you have a humorous beadmaking experience or moment to share with us?
I don't have just one because every time I light the torch there is humor in the air. My mom and I sit side by side and make beads at the same time so there is never a dull moment. It is truly a fantastic mother-daughter bonding time!

Have you had any “glass epiphanies” while working – some revelation or understanding? What were they?
I learn something new every time I lampwork. If it is not something to do about the glass then it is something about myself.  My favorite revelation is: "I can do this!"

Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?
Learn your heat! Go ahead waste a little glass, and most importantly have fun! Let the glass lead you! Pick up books, look at the world around you, find what interests you and draw inspiration from it.

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, not often. I prefer to have it quiet.

Do you have any advice or encouraging words for someone who is just starting out in glass? 
Don't be afraid to use your imagination. Express yourself through your beads and develop your own style of art. Don't be afraid to try new techniques.  In the beginning I thought I had to perfect sets of round beads before moving on to the next thing. Well that was a 2 year battle that went on without victory.  Once I lightened up on myself and used my imagination the creativity sparked and off I went.
Learn your tools and figure out what you can do with them. If only I could count how many rounds beads I wasted by throwing them into a pot of  water because I could not get them to round up perfectly or because they were not centered. I could just kick myself for that. Do the 4 P's  before tossing that bead away! Push, Pry, Prod, and Poke. You'll be amazed at what that can create!

Have you “invented” any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn’t ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?  
I have not invented any tools, but oh how I love a good hardware store. I am constantly looking for weird things that I can use. Files that can be used for neat textures etc. Even the tops of long screws and bolts can be fun. Although I don't use much more than my utility blade, tweezers, and graphite paddle, I love to play around and experiment when I am bored and not in the mood to make my critters.

Could you share with us some pictures of your studio set up?
Not yet, it is embarrassing! I have had to sit up on my grandmothers patio so there is a lot of junk around.  I am not the neatest and most organized person either.  In fact I create a huge mess all over my work station.  However, I will tell you about it.  My hubby got me a large metal work bench and we attached my butterfly station to it.  I have a heat proof pad down in front of that, and my cans of stringers, rods, and tools sitting on the right hand side. My kiln sits right there on the bench at arms reach and I keep my stock of glass rods in a set of homemade shelves that contain pvc pipe to keep the colors separated. The set up is just very simple and plain. One of these days, I will have my dream studio that I will share with everyone!

How much time do you spend making beads (in hours) per week? Is it enough?
About 20 hours a week. Sometimes more if  I have a good weekend without too many interruptions.

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 Cannon PowerShot A620 and each one of my beads are photographed inside a light tent with daylight bulbs.

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, My website is and I sell on ebay under the user id: beastiebeads

Do you sell at shows or in stores or other venues? Do you sell the beads by themselves, or already made up into jewelry?
No, I really don't have the time it takes to do shows. I have 5 kids and we home school, so any free time I have is devoted to just making my beads. I sell my beads by themselves and occasionally  I will make a few up into pendants. I do plan on taking my horse beads to a whole new level in the near future and do some jewelry and home decor designing.

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 to say it is now both. In the beginning is was 100% passion. Then when I started selling my beads online I discovered that I would not have to get a outside job to support my new found hobby. I can do what I love and as long as it supports itself then I am happy. Although from time to time is has paid the bills!

Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
I hope it never ends! The only thing that will stop me now is if I go totally blind and get severe arthritis. I don't know where it will take me for sure but I know that I'm not going to stop. I will just sit back and let the glass lead me from here on.

Do you have a favorite bead, a “best bead.” Can you share a photograph with us?
Yes! This one I drew inspiration from the movie "Racing Stripes" Those horseflies make me laugh every time my kids pop that movie on. I decided to add a few to one of my horses and this one stole my heart! I just love him!  

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 2006 Carol Yntema. Photos by and copyright by the interviewee, unless stated otherwise.

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