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Lori Peterson

San Jose, California

by: Dwyn Tomlinson

Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Lori Peterson: I took my first class in January 2002, but I didn’t start making beads until March of the same year. I spent the time in-between gathering every last thing I needed to set up my studio. I knew from the first moment I melted glass that I had to do it full time.

Beading Times: What got you started making beads?
Lori Peterson: I took a lampworking class after becoming hopelessly addicted to glass beads. I started off small with seed beads, which I wove into little amulet purses, earrings and bracelets. Pretty soon, my addiction escalated to Czech and furnace glass beads. At that point my voracious appetite for beads had outgrown the selection available at my local bead store and I had no choice but to turn to the internet. Searching websites and eBay, I stumbled across lampwork and was mesmerized by the art form. From that moment, I was hooked.

Beading Times: Were you interested in making beads before that?
Lori Peterson: I didn’t even know about lampwork until I discovered it on the internet. I don’t think I even considered glass as melt-able until then.

Beading Times: Did you have an artistic or craft history before that? How has that translated into the beadmaking, if at all?
Lori Peterson: I have always loved arts and crafts. I think that the thing that has translated the most into beadmaking is my color sense. I love color and lots of it.

Beading Times: Did you take a class?
Lori Peterson: I’ve taken two bead making classes. My beginner class in Santa Cruz, CA was a great intro to the art form. I really got the “I can do this” feeling from taking that class. I also took a class from Sharon Peters. I learned a lot about figure construction from her class. It was very helpful and I still love doing sculptural beads. I think they’re my favorite.

Beading Times: What has surprised you most about working with glass?
Lori Peterson: That it melts! No, seriously, I think I am always amazed at how versatile glass is. At one moment I can make a fun, detailed, brightly colored bead that invokes a feeling of youth and energy and the next bead can be a complex organic bead that soothes the soul. I get a real kick out of experimenting with glass.



Beading Times: Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.
Lori Peterson: I don’t know that I have a mentor but I certainly have a lengthy list of artists that I admire.

Beading Times: Whose beads inspire you the most?
Lori Peterson: The list is so long. Kim Neely springs to mind immediately. She has an eye for color, design and esthetic perfection.

Beading Times: Do you sell your beads?
Lori Peterson: I do! Otherwise, I would be drowning in them. I have a website – and I also sell on eBay. My eBay ID is lori*peterson but searching for loribeads works, too.

Beading Times: Do you make beads for friends?
Lori Peterson: I love making beads for friends! Kidlets are great for giving.

Beading Times: What does your family think of your beadmaking?
Lori Peterson: My husband, Mark, is very supportive. He has encouraged me from day one. My daughter, Desiree, just turned 18 and finally thinks what I do is “cool.”

Beading Times: What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
Lori Peterson: I have a few torches but I use my Minor burner the most. I use propane and an oxygen concentrator, which I love! I have a Hot Box kiln with a digital controller. I also have a portable air conditioner out in my studio. During the summer, that is probably my most treasured piece of equipment.

Beading Times: What type of glass do you use?
Lori Peterson: I use Effetre, Vetrofond, Lauscha and Czech. I also love to use Bullseye, Uroboros, Gaffer and all the wonderful furnace glass frits available.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
Lori Peterson: I have lots of favorite tools. I seem to be obsessed with tools. Pressing tools, poking tools, hand steadying devices and photography equipment are my current obsessions. My two favorite tools are a pair of $1.00 tweezers and a little dental tool that came in a set I bought way back in 2002.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite technique?
Lori Peterson: I love to put faces on stuff. Nothing is safe from characterization and personification. Fruit, vegetables, household items, you name it; I’ll put a face on it.

Beading Times: Are you a “set person” or a “focal bead” person?
Lori Peterson: I think of myself as a set person but I really enjoy making certain kinds of focals but, even then, I tend to send them along with a matching bead or two so it becomes a mini set.

Beading Times: Have you developed a “signature” bead, a unique type of bead that is recognizably yours. Tell us about it, how you developed it, etc.
Lori Peterson: I don’t really like the term signature bead but I do make an awful lot of kidlets so I guess maybe that would be one of mine. I started doing the kidlet beads because Corina Tettinger thought I already made them. She wanted them in her publication “Spotlight for the Inner Child”. I tried to explain to her that I didn’t make kid beads but it ended up easier to just make something than to try to convince her that I didn’t. That’s how the kidlet was born.

I also make some really cute (I think) dog beads. Mostly, I make them because I am also obsessed with my dachshund, The Puppy. You can tell I’m a creative person, can’t you? I mean….The Puppy….is that an inspired name, or what? What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, beads. I think that mostly my beads are recognizable as mine because of my use of color.

Beading Times: What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Lori Peterson: I have a recurring eye condition called iritis that periodically makes it difficult to torch. It’s frustrating but I’ve found ways to work around it.

Beading Times: What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?
Lori Peterson: Pairs. LOL! I have the attention span of a gnat.

Beading Times: The easiest?
Lori Peterson: Sculptural, definitely sculptural beads are the easiest for me to make.

Beading Times: What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
Lori Peterson: It changes like the wind. Currently, I am really jazzed about making kidlets and flower beads. Next week, who knows?

Beading Times: Do you still have the first beads you made?
Lori Peterson: What do you think of them now? I have one of them. It’s pretty ghastly. It’s solid and well formed but, still, pretty ghastly.

Beading Times: How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
Lori Peterson: I’d like to think my technique has gotten better over the years but I still like my early beads. I often go back and copy myself. It’s fun to look back and take another try at a color combination that really popped or a shape that was particularly fun.

Beading Times: What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Lori Peterson: Back when Corina came out with her sculptural frog tutorial, I tried to make one while reading the instructions. I don’t recommend this. Read and understand the directions BEFORE you make the bead. Anyway, I was busy reading the next step and the frog’s fingers got a bit too cool. When I put the frog back into the flame, POW! The frog finger blasted off like a rocket right into my eyebrow. I still have the battle scar.

Beading Times: Have you had any “glass epiphanies” while working – some revelation or understanding? What were they?
Lori Peterson: I think I have a new glass epiphany every time I’m at the torch. The effects achieved by color layering and glass reactions always amaze me.

Beading Times: Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?
Lori Peterson: Yes, I do! I’ve found that adding a swipe of clear on the back of a sculptural ‘appendage’ such as a flower petal, will greatly enhance its durability.

Beading Times: Have you “invented” any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn’t ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?
Lori Peterson: I’ve cut brass tubing to use in my sculptural bead making. It makes neat impressions and doesn’t melt.

Beading Times: Could you share with us some pictures of your studio set up?
Lori Peterson: Sure! I love my studio!

Beading Times: How much time do you spend making beads, in, say, hours per week? Is it enough?
Lori Peterson: It’s never enough! I spend about 20 hours a week making beads. Sometimes less, often more.

Beading Times: What about photographing your beads – what do you use to get your pictures?
Lori Peterson: I use a Sony Cybershot DSC-F505 which has been my faithful friend since I started making beads. I am dreading having to replace it since I know every last detail about how to use it. But, I know, eventually I will have to. I just got a spiffy new photo set up with professional lights and everything. It works great.

Beading Times: Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on? If so, what is the url/id info, etc.
Lori Peterson: – look on the buyables page, there is usually something available. I also sell quite frequently on eBay. I love the thrill of the auction format.

Beading Times: Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
Lori Peterson: Well, my ‘stay at home mom’ status just ended since my daughter turned 18 so I have been thinking of taking it to the next level by doing some shows and perhaps contacting some galleries. This is pretty scary since I’m so used to selling only on the internet. I am hoping to not be such a chicken someday soon.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite bead, a “best bead.” Can you share a photograph with us?
Lori Peterson: Sure! I have lots of 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 2005 Dwyn Tomlinson. Photos by and copyright by the interviewee, unless stated otherwise.

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