Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?

Linda Podkova: I've been making beads for about 8 years.

What got you started making beads?

I've always loved glass things, especially beads. I did a lot of seed beading, on and off loom, and one day I came across some lampwork beads on eBay and was awe struck at their beauty... and I had already wanted to make them years before, so I took the plunge.

Were you interested in making beads before that?

YES! In 1991, I was in a tiny little craft store and there was Cindy Jenkin's first book. I looked through it and was fascinated, but didn't buy it that day, I went back to get it and it was gone (the only copy) I couldn't remember the author and neither could the shop owner. So, I thought “I can remember some of what I read', and went and bought a torch, a regular soldering torch, and then I was like, hmmm, wonder what kind of glass I'd use? (I was thinking stained glass, but how?) What to put the melted glass on? So, the torch sat until it rusted and I threw it out. I didn't know where to research it.

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

In the 80's I had a home based stained glass business, small, I mean very small. I sold a lot of suncatchers and put in a few small windows. Things happened and I began seed beading. I've also dabbled in drawing, Sculpey clay, painting, tole and ceramic, paper making, crochet, there's almost too much to remember. I could not live without doing something creative, no matter what it was.

I don't know how it all lead me to making beads, but this is the best obsession I have ever had.

Can you share a photo of some of your other works with us?

I just happen to have 2 of my stained glass pieces from 1986, so sure!

Did you take a class?

I unfortunately was never  able to take a bead making class. I'm self taught with the help of a few books, determination and a lot of mistakes. 

What has surprised you most about working with glass?

I think the intensity of it, and all there is to know, and how you learn as you go along. It's not something I could master in a week. After 8 years I'm still learning.

Whose beads inspire you the most?

Oh gosh. There are so many talented bead artists out there! I'm always in awe of beautiful detailed floral and scenic beads.

Do you sell your beads?

Yes I do sell my beads, happily.

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

Yes and no. Before I realized the actual process and what was involved I thought oh yeah, I'm gonna sell my beauties! But being a beginner, and not being able to make a round bead for quite a while, or place dots that were evenly spaced, or encasing florals, or making a scrolling vine or you name it, I thought I will just do this for fun, then one day I put a set together and I liked it, I put it on eBay and it sold. I've been selling ever since.

Do you make beads for friends?

I do. My granddaughter has quite a collection. When she knows I'm going to make beads, she'll ask for something, like a butterfly, dragonfly, ice cream cone, a bat, her blankie...this has been going on for 3 years.

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

I have a really great support group, they're very encouraging. They always like my beads.

What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)

I'm on a HotHead Torch and I use acetalyine gas in a 29 lb. bulk tank. My kiln is a Paragon Glass Fusing Kiln with a digital controller.

What type of glass do you use?

I use soft glass with a coe of 104. Mostly Efferte, Vetrofond, Lauscha, Ask, CIM. I am so happy with all the 'odd' lots and new colors available.

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

Yes, I call them my comfort colors, black, dark ivory and dark amber. I have many other favorite combinations too, copper green and gold pink, now there's a reaction! I love to work with black and rainbow colors too.

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

Not really with the black, dark ivory and dark amber, but the possibilities are endless.

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

For bead release I like Foster Fire. Glass? I love it all!

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

I love and cherish all of my books and magazines that have to do with working with hot glass, I don't really have a favorite.

Do you have a favorite technique?

I  love to encase and I love to make sculptural beads.

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

I used to be a "set" person, but as I progressed in my understanding of glass and things that I was able to do, sculptured  focals have become a bit of an obsession.

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

No I haven't. I make whatever I'm in the mood to make, whatever my muse whispers, some designs more than others, but no signature bead. But I have had people tell me they've  recognized my beads as mine though. So I must have a style.

What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?

My fear of the fire!

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

Working on a HotHead, I guess it would be a bead more than two inches long or a very thick one.

The easiest?

A spacer?

What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?

I have several, my very favorite kind of bead is raised sculptural, scenic or with people, mermaids or fairies. I also love colorful, bright happy beads, and organics.

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

I have a few. I think they're lovely,  uneven dots some that popped off, wonkie shapes. It just reminds me of how much better I am now.

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

They've gotten better, and I branched out from dots to many other designs.

What was your scariest beadmaking experience?

Once I forgot to turn off my gas tank, and 2 days later turned on my torch and flames were shooting out really high and oil was dripping from the torch, it wouldn't stop even when I turned it was scary! Lucky I have a fire extinguisher close by.

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

It's humorous now, but it wasn't at the time. I started making beads without a kiln, and used a fiber blanket, then when I got my kiln, I put almost ALL of my beautiful new beads in it, programmed it, turned it on and watched. The temperature at one point was 1500 degrees, I thought this might be too high, but hey, what did I know? Well, the next morning I opened the kiln and the inside was a sea of shiny nothing. All the beads melted into the kiln floor. I called the place I bought it from and told them exactly what I did, they had me do a few things over the phone and had me send the kiln back, they sent me another kiln and said it was the thermal coupler, not my fault. Whew!

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

I've had many and I wish I could remember them in detail. I still have those moments.

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

If you make a bead that you really just love, you should write down the glass you used, the method and order in which you made it, because sometimes you just can't  remember what glass you used or how you achieved a certain look. ALSO...and this is a big tip....don't put your hand in front of the torch for any reason while it's on. I got a very bad burn doing that. I had a bead on the right side of my table, I held the mandrel in my left hand, I wanted them to be the same size, so I reached across with my left hand to measure and I could feel my hand shrivel up instantly! OUCH!

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?

Sometimes I listen to music, Alannis Morisette, John Mellencamp, Led Zepplin, Cat Stevens, Jewel, classical, just whatever I feel in the mood for. I usually watch/listen to tv, I like Forensic Files, Snapped, almost any real crime show. I put the caption on because as we all know the HotHead is not a quiet torch.

Do you have any advice or encouraging words for someone who is just starting out in glass? (Aside form persistence)

Don't get discouraged and don't be afraid to try things. The worst that could happen is the bead will break, and if that happens, try again. And most of all have fun, be relaxed, and don't worry about being the best or keeping up with the Jones’. Make what YOU want to.

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

I buy tungston rods at a welding place and ask them to make a point on it for me, I use it to plunge flowers, I also use a lot of dental tools, and when the craze was on for lentils, I too went and bought the ice tongs, cut the holes for the mandrels, and gave it a try. Then, I bought a lentil press.


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

Sure, it's small but it's 'home'. I'll even show you a picture of my kiln top art.






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

Right now at this point in my life I'm lucky to get 12 hours a week to make beads. But school is out for the summer and this will allow me many more hours I'm hoping. No, it isn't enough.

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

I have a FujiFilm FinePix S3100 digital camera. I use gray paper and flourescent lighting, sometimes my pictures come out too dark and I have to lighten them a little. I need some tips and tricks myself. I want one of those Table Top set ups.

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

I have a website with some beads for sale, and a gallery of beads that I would be willing to remake, I'm working on putting together other galleries of my beads. I also sell beads on Etsy, and sometimes eBay.

My website is:


eBay ID:  moonbeads*lampwork

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 used to sell my beads at a local bead shop here called Beadful Things, but sadly, she closed her business. I have made some jewelry with my beads, but I prefer to sell just the beads. I have a Customer's Design page on my website of things that some of my customers have made with my beads. They are such talented people!

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?

Making beads is a passion for me. But honestly, I would love to make it a full time job. It's just not do-able right now, time wise. The desire is sure there though.

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

Hopefully I'll be able to do this full time in the future, that's what I'd love to happen.

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

My favorite beads are always changing, but 'The Seaweed Mermaid' is one of my all time favorites, I just really like the way she came out. I also love 'The Mermaid Vessel' and 'Twilight', a focal with seagulls in it.


NAME: Linda Podkova

LOCATION: Fort Myers, FL