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, Kristy Naray, Connie Paul

Rosemary Tottosy

California, USA

by: Dwyn Tomlinson

Beading Times: How long have you been making beads?
Rosemary Tottosy: I started making beads at the end of August, 2003


Beading Times: What got you started making beads?
Rosemary Tottosy: I was browsing the internet looking for unique beads to buy as I wanted to make a few pieces of jewelry for myself. I had gone to local bead stores and didn't find the beads unique and interesting. In my search I came across the term "Lampwork" several times but skipped over it. Somehow I got to the WetCanvas Showcase and I couldn't believe what I saw.

I read and read those pages at Wet Canvas and found the information I needed to get going. A week later I had my Hot Head in hand and started this journey.

Beading Times: Were you interested in making beads before that?
Rosemary Tottosy: I didn't know it was possible to make my own beads! If I had known I would have taken this up years ago.

Beading Times: Did you take a class?
Rosemary Tottosy: I took my first and only class this April with Jim Smirich. I have his DVD but jumped at the chance to take a class and meet other lampworkers when I saw he was coming to Arrow Springs. So, I'm basically self-taught, learning from the people sharing techniques on Wet Canvas.

Beading Times: What has surprised you most about working with glass?
Rosemary Tottosy: The fact that the more you work with it the more you realize that you never stop learning. It's very challenging. Also, I am so fascinated with the ever changing reactions you get with different glass, silver, frit, enamels, etc.

Beading Times: Your color sense is wonderful - where do you get your inspiration?
Rosemary Tottosy: I get my inspiration mostly from my garden. I have mentioned it several times in my auctions. From my work bench I look out to my yard in full bloom most of the year. Before beads I poured my heart and soul into designing, planting and maintaining it. I have about 32 roses, of which English roses are my favorite, along with many perennials. This gave me a challenge using color and was so much fun to do starting with a blank palette. I'm giving you a picture of it.

One of the things that drew me to making beads was the COLOR! Being able to create with color like that excited me. I'm very color challenged in many ways, and a good example of that are all the paint cans in my garage.

I learned to sew at 12 years old. It was the only way I could get a new outfit, and I wore uniforms to school. In reflection, I think it was so many years of picking out fabric and pulling colors together in clothes that carries over into beadmaking. When I make a set of beads I imagine what it would go with in clothing. And of course, I only make beads in my colors, LOL.

Beading Times: Have you had anyone that you consider to be a mentor? Tell me about them.
Rosemary Tottosy: My sister, Mary Schurman. She is an artist using many mediums, but most well known for her watercolors. It's her influence over the years that has made the most impact on me. I can't draw a straight line but she has taught me to look at things differently. An example would be a flower. If you really look at a flower closely, nature hands you a whole palette of color. And, if you were to dissect it and take the colors individually, you would always find it has a dark, medium and light shade. Although I'm creative, I have no art background. She helped open my eyes.

Beading Times: Whose beads inspire you the most?
Rosemary Tottosy: There are SO MANY fabulous, inspiring beadmakers, I couldn't begin to name them. The one person I really want to take a class with is Kimbery Affleck. I dream about it!

Beading Times: Do you sell your beads?
Rosemary Tottosy: I sell on Ebay occasionally if I have a set that I think is special.

Beading Times: Do you make beads for friends?
Rosemary Tottosy: I give my beads as gifts, usually.

Beading Times: What does your family think of your beadmaking?
Rosemary Tottosy: My husband has been behind me all the way. This has been an expensive hobby to take up, and I eat, sleep and think beads. He's never wavered or complained about the packages that keep showing up at the door (supplies) or the amount of money I'm spending, and encourages me to take classes. He has his responses automated by now … "Ohhhh, that's beautiful." He can do it without even looking up!

My 18-year-old daughter is starting to come around. She had a hard time telling me my uglies were beautiful. But now her friends think I'm cool and I hear her bragging about her mom making beads. There's hope.

Beading Times: Now that you are making your own beads instead of hunting for interesting ones, do you find the time to use them to make jewelry for yourself?
Rosemary Tottosy: When I first started making beads I strung everything to wear. They are still hanging from my lamp. One of these days I will take them apart to get all the silver I used. I have a few special pieces that mean a lot to me, even though they are a bit bumpy. But now, I don't have time to make jewelry. I'd rather buy glass and tools. Aside from making beads, I have a full time job. Like everyone else, I need more hours in the day.

Beading Times: What sort of set up do you have for making beads? (Type of torch, gas, kiln, etc.)
Rosemary Tottosy: Happily I can say I finally upgraded to a Minor and an oxygen concentrator. I have a Jen-Ken Kiln with a digital controller.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite product, i.e. bead release, glass, etc.
Rosemary Tottosy: I really like the silver and frits from Val Cox at

Beading Times: What type of glass do you use?
Rosemary Tottosy: I mostly use Moretti along with Lauscha clear. I've played a bit with Bullseye and now that I have a hotter torch it's time to play some more with it.

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite technique?
Rosemary Tottosy: I wouldn't say so. At least, not that I could call my own.

Beading Times: Do you make sets?
Rosemary Tottosy: I usually make small sets, but I just completed a large set of about 45 beads to see how a necklace/bracelet combo would look. That is the "Bella Tuscany" set.


Beading Times: Which do you prefer to make, a pile of beads or a single perfect bead?
Rosemary Tottosy: A small pile of perfect beads. It's something to 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.
Rosemary Tottosy: No, I'm still way too new at this.

Beading Times: What was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Rosemary Tottosy: Encasing was one, along with encased florals. The obstacle I'm still facing is learning how to make other type of beads besides florals.

Beading Times: What is the easiest kind of bead for you to make?
Rosemary Tottosy: Oh, let's see… I guess I'd say trying my first real bead stamp, the CBS. (Corina Bead Stamp). I took off running with that.

Beading Times: What is your favorite kind of bead or technique?
Rosemary Tottosy: Although this is not a conscious decision, florals seem to be my thing. I try to make beads without flowers but I don't get anywhere. I have to stick a flower in or on everything, much to my own frustration.

I experiment to find interesting backdrops to put flowers on. I enjoy encasing florals but as for wearing them, they aren't so interesting to me. I guess because I haven't perfected how to stamp them in shapes and encase, like Kim Neely does. Now there is a gal that can make glass sing!

Beading Times: Do you still have the first beads you made? What do you think of them now?
Rosemary Tottosy: I've scattered most of my early beads in my garden. I also scattered some along the side of the front sidewalk, thinking some kids might come along and find them and think they'd found treasures.

Some of them are a total embarrassment! Well, most! But they make me smile.

Beading Times: What was your scariest beadmaking experience?
Rosemary Tottosy: I guess it was the most painful one. A piece of hot glass somehow flew off and went down my shirt. It seared my skin in several places during it's travel out the bottom.

Beading Times: Have you had any "glass epiphanies" while working - some revelation or understanding? What were they?
Rosemary Tottosy: Well, when I was learning to encase I remember the time I really "got" it. Heating each end individually made all the difference, then going to the center just to smooth it out. Before that I was just cookin' the heck out of the beads trying to get that glass to melt.


Beading Times: What about photographing your beads - what do you use to get your pictures?
Rosemary Tottosy: I have a Nikon Coolpix 4300. I just built a lightbox, thanks to a wonderful tutorial Lori Greenburg published on Wet Canvas, for everyone to use. It's a great setup for about $20.

Beading Times: Do you have a website or auction site that you regularly sell you beads on? Do you sell the beads by themselves, or already made up into jewelry?
Rosemary Tottosy: I sell loose beads on Ebay, under the name of *rosebeads*

Beading Times: Where do you see yourself going with lampworking/glassworking in the future? Or, where do you see it taking you?
Rosemary Tottosy: I have only just begun this journey. Right now I am focusing on getting my workspace built so I can feel more confident I'm working in the safest conditions possible. I use a lot of silver and am starting to explore enamels. Sometimes I just have to tell myself to slow down, that I don't need to learn everything today. I'm excited, knowing that the first six months are behind me and look forward to everyday. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. That's why I love glass!

Beading Times: Do you have a favorite bead, a "best bead." Can you share a photograph with us?
Rosemary Tottosy: The most interesting bead, or beads were from the "Vintage Rose" set. I worked on those for awhile, trying to get the colors just right. On a Hot Head it was challenging. I photographed them, to list on Ebay, and I couldn't believe what came out of the camera. It's like those beads stood up and danced! The colors that came out astounded me, and I still look at them in amazement.

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