Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?

Holly Cruise: 13 years

What got you started making beads?

I took a weekend workshop with Sally Prasch at UrbanGlass in Brooklyn, NY.

Were you interested in making beads before that?

I was more interested in glass in general, but beads were a fun and cheaper way to work with the material.

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

Yes, I am an art school drop out and have always loved painting and drawing. I took a few jewelry making courses and really enjoyed designing and making jewelry, but metal is so slow. Glass is fast!

What has surprised you most about working with glass?

No matter how good you get, there are days when it just doesn’t work. I walk away from those days.

Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.

Joanne Andrighetti has been an incredible mentor and friend. We have worked together on lots of projects, and she has always shared her expertise with me. I also love everything she makes, and we have a similar style sense. She makes amazing things, she can look at something and make a reasonable facsimile in glass. I love that. Also, David New-Small has been a great mentor to me in glass. He loves a challenge, and has always been really open about the material and just enjoying it and learning from it.

Whose beads inspire you the most?

I love Japanese beads. Anything with amazing soft glass murrine.

Do you sell your beads?

I sell finished jewelry, but not really the individual beads.

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

Mostly I just made stuff to wear, I still do, but I manage to make enough work to sell in a couple of galleries.

Do you make beads for friends?

Sometimes. I used to a lot more, but now I usually just give them to my Mom. The last time I went to make a special bead for a friend I wound up giving myself third degree burns…

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

My husband likes what I do and thinks it is really interesting. He has always supported my creative career and hobbies. My son is too young to get it yet (He will be 2 in October) but I think he will be a great little glass maker when it is his turn. My parents and siblings love it.

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

I have a Nortel Mid-range torch with a minor top fire.

What type of glass do you use?

Mostly Effetre (Formerly Moretti) and sometimes I use boro for more sculptural work.

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

I like using white base with bright transparents over the top, this makes wild and wonderful colours, and really shows the brilliance of glass. I go through phases, but my favourite colour is rainbow, I like lots of colour.

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

Blue sludge, for those who like to abuse their work.

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

Everything you do has been done before. I think I made some glass meat, I have never seen that before or since. A ham bone and some pork chops, sausages and a stuffed pig. It was for a meat themed necklace that never really came together.

What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?

Accepting that people will copy your work, and getting over it. Also, realizing the answer to the previous question, that even when you think you have an original idea, it’s all been done before.

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

I can’t encase to save my life. Alexx Cheng has showed me a bunch of times and he always makes it look so easy. So many people have showed me and I just stink at it.

The easiest?

Anything sculptural is easy… or easier.

What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?

I like stripe beads, they are very rewarding.

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

I do, and they are pretty good. Sally really taught us a lot in that first class, and all of my beads are feathered.

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

They have gotten bigger. And more delicious.

What was your scariest beadmaking experience?

I put my thumb in the flame once. It hurt so bad I couldn’t drive myself home. Recently I had a big piece of glass check off a big bead I was making and it went down my shirt and got stuck in my cleavage and I gave myself third degree burns. I wasn’t paying attention both times, and that’s when you get hurt. Also, never wear low cut shirts.

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

Those third degree burns were actually pretty funny, and because it didn’t hurt (third degree burns kill the nerve endings) I was more concerned about the bead than my injury.

Do you have any advice or encouraging words for someone who is just starting out in glass?

If the glass isn’t working for you, walk away. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, and when you are having a frustrating time, sometimes it is best to take a break, and start fresh another day or time. You have to have a relationship with this material, and you can’t force it to work, you can merely try to coerce it.

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

Go with a professional photographer, or make sure you have good lights.

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

Do you sell at shows or in stores or other venues?

I sell in a couple of galleries and I do a couple of craft sales each year.

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 do not make a living with my beads, mostly because then it would be a job. I am a graphic designer and a full-time Mom as well.

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

I would like to make some show pieces this year, some bigger work with many small components. I have visions of more narrative work.


NAME: Holly Cruise

LOCATION: Vancouver, BC.