Archived Featured Bead Artists
Ania Karolina Kyte, Amy Waldman Engel, Barrie Edwards, Jodi Lindsey, Rebecca Voris, Karen Elmquist, Allison Turner, Debbie Dimoff, Margaret Zinser, Slava Popov, Faith Davis Ferris, Helen Harvest, Dwyn Tomlinson

Kirsty Naray

Ontario, Canada

by: Dwyn Tomlinson

Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Kirsty Naray: I began experimenting with melting glass in a flame in 1995.

Beading Times: What got you started making beads?
Kirsty Naray: I make stained glass kaleidoscopes and wanted to make my own inclusions for my object containers. As soon as I learned that you could bend glass in a flame, I thought about making beads.

Beading Times: Were you interested in making beads before that?
Kirsty Naray: I had always made beads out of many different materials.

Beading Times: Did you take a class?
Kirsty Naray: No, not at that time. There were no classes or books available. Several years ago, I took Loren Stump's class while he was teaching at Sheridan.

Beading Times: What has surprised you most about working with glass?
Kirsty Naray: I think that what surprises me most is that there is so much to learn. The more you work with glass, the more you realize what you don't know. Every day is a learning experience.

Beading Times: Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.
Kirsty Naray: I have a number of friends, both glass people and not, without whose encouragement and support, I would never have succeeded. I think that I do need to mention two very special people. Jean Robichaud and Peter Norton, from Nortel. (Editors note: Nortel Manufacturing, maker of the Minor Burner®.) Their continued support is very deeply appreciated.

Beading Times: Whose beads inspire you the most?
Kirsty Naray: I can't say that there is one person's beads that are most inspiring to me. I have a small collection of beads from a few people, some well known, others not so well. Each one to me is an inspiration. I know the thought and care and joy that goes into making them.

Beading Times: Do you sell your beads?
Kirsty Naray: Yes, I do. I have a website and do a number of art shows each year.

Beading Times: Do you make beads for friends?
Kirsty Naray: That is one of my favorite things. I love to make a personalized bead as a present for my friends.

Beading Times: What does your family and friends think of your beadmaking?
Kirsty Naray: I think that I have won them over. Everyone sees the pleasure I take in working with glass. They are extremely supportive.

Beading Times: What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
Kirsty Naray: I have a GTT Lynx torch that I love and I've been using an oxygen concentrator for the past two years. I also have two old ceramic kilns that get used on a daily basis. A new, programmable kiln is on my "wish list."

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
Kirsty Naray: The bead release that I prefer to use is Sludge Plus. Most of my beads are quite large and complex and I find this brand reliable. Recently, I was given a sample jar of Foster Fire to try and look forward to using that.

Beading Times: What type of glass do you use?
Kirsty Naray: I use Effetre almost exclusively. I have used some Czech and Lausha which I like very much.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite technique?
Kirsty Naray: I love making encased florals. I think that they're my specialty. I also love doing sculptures. Fairies, mermaids, angels, teddy bears and bunnies. I love making them all.

Beading Times: Do you make sets?
Kirsty Naray: I rarely make sets. If I'm making bracelets for shows, then I will, but it's not my first choice of things to make.

Beading Times: Which do you prefer to make, a pile of beads or a single perfect bead?
Kirsty Naray: I definitely prefer a single perfect bead. I've never achieved what I consider to be a perfect one but it's something that I strive for.

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.
Kirsty Naray: I think that people know me best for my floral beads. My first florals were single petals. Then, as I was studying enamels, I realized that more than one color transparent was used to achieve depth. I started experimenting with adding layers of colous. I'm still trying to expand on this technique.

Beading Times: The teddy bears are adorable. Is there a story to them?
Kirsty Naray: The teddy bears are a complete joy! I've been making and collecting plush Teds for many years. I even designed one as well, but when I was bitten by the "glass bug," they just got shelved for a while. I've always loved them and was approached by a friend who is also a collector about making her one. Since that first one, I've gone on to make dozens more - all kinds, large, small, dressed and undressed. I also do many teddy bear shows around Ontario which I enjoy very much.


Beading Times: What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Kirsty Naray: When I look back to when I first started, I can't believe how far I've come. There was nothing available in Canada. No supplies, no books, no instructions of any kind. If I hadn't been so stubborn, and if I hadn't met Jean and Peter from Nortel, I would have given up. I just wanted to make beads so badly that I was determined not to let it beat me.

Beading Times: What is the hardest kind of bead to make for you?
Kirsty Naray: The hardest bead for me is my "signature" large, encased floral. Some of those beads can have up to nine layers of glass. As much as I love making them, they are very difficult. I'm afraid that I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I'm very critical of myself.


Beading Times: The easiest?
Kirsty Naray: The easiest beads for me are the ones that I use in my bracelets, variations of the "dot" theme.

Beading Times: How have your beads changed? Since you started or over the years?
Kirsty Naray: My beads are getting more detailed. When I first started, I was satisfied with just being able to produce a simple bead that resembled what I envisioned. Now, I strive to produce very complex structures.
My "limited edition" pieces may have four or five different bead elements incorporated into a single piece.

Beading Times: Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Kirsty Naray: I do still have my first beads. I remember thinking at the time, how incredibly fantastic sculpting with molten glass was. Although the beads themselves were awful, it seemed that this was something that I was meant to do and they are a reminder of how far I've come and that I didn't give up on myself.

Beading Times: What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Kirsty Naray: You'll laugh, but the scariest experience was when I turned on my first oxy-propane torch. I was so afraid that I'd forgotten something important and that I'd blow up the house. I think that my husband did too. (tee hee)

Beading Times: Have you had any "glass epiphanies" while working - some revelation or understanding? What were they?
Kirsty Naray: I think that happens to everyone in time. I know that after endless hours of trying to learn encasing, I suddenly "got it." I didn't have anyone to show me how it was done and I just couldn't get the hang of it. I kept smearing all my flowers that I had worked so hard on. Then I realized that it was about being able to read the heat in the glass. After that, I got better. I won't say that it is easy even now because I still smear my flowers from time to time, but that was a revelation.

Beading Times: Do you have a technique or method or tip to share?
Kirsty Naray: I have a tip on cleaning out bead holes. I use my Dremel to ream out the holes, and then I put the beads into a small bowl and pour Diet Coke over them and let them sit for a while. Silly, but it works.

Beading Times: Have you "invented" any new tools, or recycled something that wouldn't ordinarily be thought of as a tool for lampworking?
Kirsty Naray: I picked up a small flat tool from the flea market for a dollar. It's used by stamp collectors to lift stamps so that the heat from their hands doesn't dampen the adhesive on the back of the stamp. It makes a terrific little shaper and mini-marver.

Beading Times: What about photographing your beads - what do you use to get your pictures?
Kirsty Naray: I have a terrific scanner at the moment, but will have purchased a digital camera by the time you read this.

Beading Times: Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on?
Kirsty Naray: I have my own website,, and I have listed and sold some beads on Ebay. I get around to doing that about once a year.

Beading Times: Do you sell at shows or in stores or other venues? Do you sell the beads by themselves, or already made up into jewelry?
Kirsty Naray: Both. I love to offer my beads chain-ready as well as producing finished pieces.

Beading Times: You've also had a custom interchangeable bead mount designed. Can you tell us a little about that and that process?
Kirsty Naray: The interchangeable bead holder is a co-operative effort between myself and my friend, Sandra Correia Martin, who is a goldsmith/designer. I had the idea that I wanted to make a holder that was "mine." Something that would complement the design of my beads. I approached Sandra with a basic design and she was able to take that concept and vastly improve on it and turn the idea into a beautiful piece. I'm very proud of her. She's a wonderful jewelry designer and deserves all the credit for bringing this project into reality. There is a lot of work to this piece. A lot of finishing involved which I want to do myself but up until now, Sandra has been doing. We are currently working on another holder, that will hold the bead vertically. Hopefully, it should be ready some time this year.

Beading Times: Do you still make the Kaleidoscopes?
Kirsty Naray: I do still make kaleidoscopes. They are complex structures that require a lot of designing so I'm not able to make as many as I'd like. Hopefully, this summer, I will have some for the art shows that I'll be doing.

Beading Times: Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
Kirsty Naray: I love teaching. I seem to have been asked to teach quite often lately. I'd love to travel and teach. That would be a dream.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite bead, a "best bead." Can you share a photograph with us?
Kirsty Naray: I have a brand new "Limited Edition 2004." Her name is Lisa Bunny in honor of our eldest daughter. Next year, hopefully, I'll make a limited edition for our younger daughter, Marianne.


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



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