Archived Featured Bead Artists
Ania Karolina Kyte

Archived Featured Bead Artists
Ania Karolina Kyte

Amy Waldman Engel

Toronto, ON

by: Dwyn Tomlinson

This month, Beading Times talks with Amy Waldman Engel.


Beading Times: Amy, how long have you been making beads?

Amy Waldman Engel: About 2 years now.

Beading Times: What got you started making beads?

Amy Waldman Engel: I have always been interested in glass. I was channel surfing one night and saw the tail — end of a local cable show on Lezlie Levitt. So I had her name and no other information, but I figured she had to be local, as it was local television! I got on the internet and did some research and found that she was listed on a studio tour that spring – although there was no mention of when the studio tour was. I kept looking until I finally found the dates for the tour. I made sure to go to her house. There, I found out that she teaches, and I signed up for her weekend course – after much agonizing. My daughter will make sure to tell you that she pushed me into it, which is true.

Beading Times: What caused you to agonize over taking the class?

Amy Waldman Engel: Well, it was expensive for me, as a single mom. It seemed like such an indulgence, but my daughter, Sarah, pushed me to go. Lezlie helped a lot too by telling me that there was a local studio called beadFX that I could rent time at. I was more encouraged to go forward, knowing that I did not have to build a studio.

Beading Times: Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor?

Amy Waldman Engel: Lezlie has always been great to me but Jennifer Tough has been very generous with time, advice etc. She has been my greatest help. It is her lampwork studio that I rented space at for so long, before I built my home studio.

Beading Times: So you've made your own studio space now! What sort of set up do you have for making beads?

Amy Waldman Engel: In November of 2002, I set up in the basement of my home. I have a small AF99 Kiln from Arrow Springs and my torch is a Nortel Minor with an oxygen concentrator.

Beading Times: Whose beads inspire you the most?

Amy Waldman Engel: There are so many people who make the most wonderful beads. Michael Barley was my earliest inspiration. Loren Stump, Kate Fowler, Sharon Peters. The list could go on and on.

Beading Times: Do you sell your beads?

Amy Waldman Engel: Yes. Ebay auctions, friends and family and the occasional bead show.

Beading Times: Do you make beads for friends?


Beading Times: What does your family think of your beadmaking?

Amy Waldman Engel: My family has been very supportive. I live just with my daughter and she is my biggest fan. My parents are thrilled to see me on Ebay — they are showing me off to all their friends. It has been fun.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite glass?

Amy Waldman Engel: My all time favourite glass is effetre Ivory. I just love working with it.

Beading Times: What type of glass do you use?

Amy Waldman Engel: Moretti Effetre

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite technique?

Amy Waldman Engel: I love making hollow beads. Currently I am working on a series I call ivory lace. But I made hollow hearts and hollow fish too.

Beading Times: Do you make sets?

Amy Waldman Engel: I do, mostly for Ebay, but I find them difficult usually.

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

Amy Waldman Engel: I like to make big honking beads. Somehow they continue to grow in size as time goes on. ;-)

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Beading Times: Have you developed a “signature” bead, a unique type of bead that is recognizably yours?

Amy Waldman Engel: My signature beads are two kinds. The hollow heart and the ivory lace. The hollow heart evolved gradually. I began making fish, these were sometimes so pretty before the fins were added that I just squished them and kept them as rounds. One day I tried to shape it into a heart and was enthralled. I have made many many of these and still enjoy making them.

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I am not a good “drawer” and find some of the detailed glass work difficult – i.e. flowers, so the abstract appeals to me. I was experimenting with some Jim Smircich techniques and found that I could create beautiful patterns from silver coated ivory glass. I continue to experiment and have a great number of them made for sale this spring in Milwaukee at the Bead and Button show.

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Beading Times: What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?

Amy Waldman Engel: Truly — time and money. This is an expensive hobby. I was reluctant to begin because you can see that before you even start. I have little time as a single parent. I make time for my beadwork now. Selling helps with the financial part.

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

Amy Waldman Engel: Matched sets

Beading Times: The easiest?

Amy Waldman Engel: Abstract beads

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Beading Times: What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?

Amy Waldman Engel: Hollow beads

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

Amy Waldman Engel: There has been much growth in my beads. They continue to evolve and improve with each month.

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

Amy Waldman Engel: I still have those first beads. They are fun to look at — I can really see the growth in my technique when I do.

Beading Times: What was your scariest beadmaking experience?

Amy Waldman Engel: I have been very lucky and have not had any really scary incidents. One night though, Jennifer and I were working really late getting ready for a show — something fell and made a noise — I instantly thought there was a fire — really showed me my deep fears!

Beading Times: I understand that you will be teaching soon. Can you tell us more about that?

Amy Waldman Engel: I am so flattered and honoured that Jennifer has asked me to take over some of her teaching duties in her lampwork studio – with her being 8 months pregnant – the teaching is getting to be too much for her – and then, while she is on maternity leave. I'm really looking forward to it – I teach Bead Crochet classes now, and I enjoy the interaction with the students.

Beading Times: Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on?

Amy Waldman Engel: I sell on ebay, my id is amywashere. I also do shows, such as Bead & Button, the Toronto Bead Society's Bead Fair, etc. I really enjoy doing shows.

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Beading Times: Thank you for your time! We look forward to seeing you at shows and we wish you all the best in your ongoing beady adventures!

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