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Linda James, Flame On Glass

British Columbia, Canada

by: Dwyn Tomlinson

Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Linda James: Oh, I guess it's just about three years now.

Beading Times: What got you started making beads?
Linda James: I always liked playing with fire, melting glass really appealed to me.


'Whimsy' series - made in Spectrum brand glass

Beading Times: Were you interested in making beads before that?
Linda James: No big interest in beads or jewelry at all before I started lampworking but now I make a fair amount of jewelry for local sales. It really is the only way to sell beads where I live.

'Angelina Pinks' series Spectrum glass


Beading Times: Did you take a class?
Linda James: I did take a local class where I basically just learned how to dip a mandrel, light a torch & melt glass. Pretty much everything I have learned has come from the Internet or books.

Spectrum glass

Beading Times: What has surprised you most about working with glass?
Linda James: How addictive beadmaking is. Immediately. I think it is the crack cocaine of glass.

Beading Times: Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell us about them.
Linda James: Not really one person. Lots of beadmakers influenced me though.

The beadmakers who made the biggest impression on me are those who seemed to see some of the same things in the glass. A few are - Rene Roberts, John Winter, Mary Anne Williams, Michael Barley, Amy Johnson & Alethia Donathon but there are so many amazing beadmakers out there it is just, well…amazing!

Effetre glass

I would like to say that when I started selling my beads on eBay I got some wonderful encouraging comments from artists like Jinx Garza & that really helped me hang in there. When I see someone starting out that is talented I like to encourage them, I remember how much it meant to me.

The fact that my local Municipal Art Gallery was interested in showing my beads when I had only been beadmaking for 5 months was another great boost.

Beading Times: Whose beads inspire you the most?
Linda James: Rene Roberts. It is actually quite annoying because I have started a few series that I would find had elements of her designs & whenever I find myself doing a design that seems too closely related to someone else's work, I lose interest in pursuing it. I keep hoping I will get over that. Also, even though I am not generally fond of dot beads, Kristina Logan's are perfection.

Beading Times: Do you sell your beads?
Linda James: I do. I pretty much have to. I couldn't afford to spend as much time as I do beadmaking unless I made some money from it.

'Beaches' series Effetre

Beading Times: Do you make beads for friends?
Linda James: I do.

Beading Times: What does your family and friends think of your beadmaking?
Linda James: Hmmmm.. They tell me it's just great but maybe they are just being nice?

Beading Times: What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
Linda James: Wow, I am so lucky. I have a really nice little studio on my property & that's where I work. I use a Bobcat torch & a concentrator. I have a little Aim kiln.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
Linda James: Anyone who has had to listen to me rant about it knows I really love Spectrum stained glass. I get a little puzzled at why it is not more popular for beadmaking. The colors are lovely & you can get some fantastic effects with the Streakys & Baroques.


Beading Times: Does that mean you just use Spectrum? What type of glass do you use?
Linda James: Any soft glass I can get my hands on. I split my time pretty evenly between different sheet & rod glass. I was doing a little Borosilicate work but I sold all my hard glass. It was getting silly having all these different glasses all over the place. I decided working in soft glass was keeping me busy enough.

Beading Times: You have a "reputation" <grin> for using anything that will melt or stick to glass. (or so I've been told!) Can you tell us about that?
Linda James: I do love to experiment. I think a lot of that comes from the fact that when I started making beads there were no local beadmaking suppliers, just a stained glass store, so I got hooked on using sheetglass early & still love it for the extra colors & effects I can add to my beads using it. Going from sheetglass to anything else that looked like it might make a pretty bead, really wasn't much of a stretch at all & as for embellishments- well I have stuck some pretty odd things onto a bead & although the results are usually disappointing sometimes I get a pleasant surprise!

Often when I first try a glass, it takes me a while to find the right combination that shows its beauty. I think a good example of this is Spectrum's various Baroques. I have been playing with these since the beginning of my beadmaking & think I have found some really nice combinations. I really like the 'Emily' (pinks & greens) & the 'Angelina' (pinks & blacks,) series.

I have never met a glass I didn't like & I pretty much like to melt anything. I have tried most sheet glass from 'Armstrong' to 'Youghiogheny'.

But ... not all works well for beads. For instance Wasser is great for fusing but the colors tend to burn out in a flame & I find Kokomo has an odd texture (sort of like a granular honey,) that makes it hard to work easily. On the other hand there are also some types of glass that are just too pretty in a pre-bead state to mess with. So even though I love to melting glass, I have some lovely Uranium cullet as well as some Bullseye 'Curious' sheet glass that I keep just to admire because I can't bring myself to melt anything that pretty.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite technique?
Linda James: I love the 'Organic' style of beads.


Beading Times: Do you make sets?
Linda James: I started out just doing focals, never thought I would do sets but now I really enjoy it.


Beading Times: Which do you prefer to make, a pile of beads or a single perfect bead?
Linda James: Yes!

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.
Linda James: A funny thing about 'signature' beads, I have had a few styles that were pretty distinctive, (or so I have been told,) but every time one starts to get recognized, I have found I pretty much stopped making it & went onto something else. (How weird is that?) I also don't do custom work. I don't enjoy it at all.

'Peacock' series Spectrum

Beading Times: What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Linda James: The fact that my beads usually don't look like other peoples beads. It bothered me for the first year or so. I would see these fantastic 'floral' or 'Dotty' beads but would get bored & frustrated when I would try to make them myself. The easiest for me is any style of bead where I am experimenting with a new, (for me) technique or glass.

'Chain Reaction' series Effetre

Spectrum glass with Raku Frit
Beading Times: What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
Linda James: I absolutely love any type of bead that involves different glasses reacting to each other or metals. Anything with color changes etc. I have been having lots of fun with Raku frit, as well as with Spectrum's new colors. I make a lot of hearts too.

'Tapestry' series Bullseye


Beading Times: How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
Linda James: As a rule, they are smaller & I hope they are a lot better technically.

Beading Times: Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Linda James: I do. They're awful. I am not one of those beadmakers who were gifted with great beads right away. It was a few months before I did anything that was even presentable.

Beading Times: What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Linda James: Back when I was using a Hothead hooked up to a bulk tank of Mapp gas, I had a flare-up. 6 foot flames were shooting out of my torch.

Beading Times: Have you had any "glass epiphanies" while working - some revelation or understanding? What were they?
Linda James: I haven't had anything big. Lots of little light bulbs have gone off for me as I have progressed. Mostly simple things that just took a while to sink in, like working with gravity & heat instead of against them or how to get a particular effect I was looking for.


Beading Times: Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?
Linda James: I do have some techniques I have developed for using flat glass. Making twisties, striped beads & encasing are really easy with strips of glass & I have posted tutorials for these on my website.

Spectrum glass

Beading Times: Have you "invented" any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn't ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?
Linda James: I can think of a few offhand. I use old glass mason jar lids for frit & I have an old piece of guitar string to clean out the ports of my Bobcat. I also have lots of different sizes of alligator clips I use to hold small pieces of glass & stacked strips of sheet glass when I am making 'sheet-glass twisties.'

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

the studio

torch setup, with a shield

Beading Times: What about photographing your beads - what do you use to get your pictures?
Linda James: I use a little Canon Powershot A200. It's pretty worn out though, I am due for a new camera soon.

'Shroom' series Spectrum

Beading Times: Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on?
Linda James: I so have a website but it is just for show, no sales. I sell my beadsets & focals on eBay

Beading Times: What is the origin of the name "Flame On Glass?" - It makes me think of the Fantastic Four and "Flame On" - but maybe that wasn't it?
Linda James: I wish I could remember how I came up with the name 'Flame On Glass' but honestly? I really don't. I played around with names for months before I came up with one I liked though.

Beading Times: What about craft shows or in stores or other venues? Do you sell the beads by themselves, or already made up into jewelry?
Linda James: I sell beaded jewelry, bottlestoppers, knives etc. at 3 local Christmas shows & also at the local art gallery.

Beading Times: You seem to use quite a bit of millifiore -- do you make your own cane?
Linda James: I do make some of my millifiori cane but also use Effetre.

'Amoebas' series Effetre

Beading Times: Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
Linda James: I feel I have so much to learn working with glass, I am not too concerned with direction. I just want to be able to keep playing.

'Emily's Spring' series Spectrum glass

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite bead, a 'best bead.' Can you share a photograph with us?
Linda James: Whatever 'new' thing I am working on at the moment is usually my very favorite. I don't have any one favorite bead but I do have lots of old favorites with certain elements that I really like.

Also, many of my favorite beads are not that fancy. In fact, much of the sheet glass I use is so beautiful I spend a lot of time learning how to transfer the look to a bead without losing it. I don't usually add any surface decoration to these beads.

'Angelina Pinks' series Spectrum glass

A lot of my enjoyment of a bead can come by the way it works & looks in the flame. It is hard to explain but somehow that is magical to me. After cooling, those beads sometimes look very ordinary but I still like them. It's like a private magic only I will ever get to see.



'Blue Genes' series Spectrum



'Flower Power' series Effetre

'Frit Flowers' series Spectrum

'Lace' series Effetre

Effetre on the left, Spectrum on the right




'Shapes' Spectrum

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