All stories contain dozens of beautiful illustrations.

by Carolyn

A Bakers Dozen




1. Aimée Kennedy

Just some cautions about applying hot glass to silver. The melting temp of silver is quite low but if you use a thicker piece you have more leeway with it, the minimum I use is .8mm wire, but the best is the cast pieces, such as my adjustable rings, I haven't melted one yet. Afterward, you'll need to remove firescale and polish the silver after you get it out of the kiln, not fun if you don't have the right equipment. When you first get started please be prepared for some waste, keep in mind I've been experimenting with this for almost three years and I'm still figuring out some of the rules.

2. Manuela Wutschke

I work a lot with stringers and twisties and I had a hard time over a year trying to spiral a thin stringer/twisty around a bead from one end to the other.
What works best for me: I heat the bead, put it far away out of the flame (let the flame just kiss the glass), then heat the tip of my twisty melt it on the bead and begin to just lay it down on the bead beginning from right to left.  Beginning from the right was the thing I missed (it was Kristina Logan showing that to me) and it's important because the flame will hold your bead just warm and the twisty wont melt in a weird way. It will be plastic and you can control it.

3. D Lynne Bowland

I have a heart tutorial on my web site… It actually also works for dog bones too if you have a burning desire to make those!  My favorite marver is the top half of my ‘bead squeeze’  It’s got a slight curve so fits the shape of most beads better than a flat graphite paddle.

4. Claudia Trimbur-Pagel

I like to paint on glass beads with liquid gold paint that must be annealed at 1100° F. That makes them sparkling and permits me to make very fine designs.

5. Sarah Hornik

Here are a few:

Put silver leaf over goldstone – you get gorgeous shades of turquoise.

Make a twistie with Intense Black and Silver Plum – you get black with metallic silver stripes.

Silver leaf over Rubino, encased in clear, will give you a wonderful boro effect.

6. Vickie Miller

I was reading a thread today on "Lampwork Etc.". The discussion was about how to get bead release on the middle of a mandrel. The idea here is using the middle of the mandrel to make your bead rather than the end. If you make your bead at the end of the mandrel you limit yourself to using one hand when creating your bead. One side of the bead would be more difficult to decorate unless you are ambidextrous. If you use the middle of the mandrel to build your bead you should be able to grab either end decorating one side and then grabbing the mandrels other end to decorate the remaining side. I have always used the middle of the mandrel method. I just dip the mandrel halfway up. I think trying to only dip in the middle leaving both ends bare would be much more trouble than it's worth.

7. Ginny Hampton Schmidt

For perfectly straight lines, you can use your razor tool to straighten out your stringer work. Lay your line down as straight as you can, and before it melts in too much, heat it slightly and scoot it into position with your razor. You can easily get rid of little crooked spots and you’ll look like you have the stringer control of a pro.

8. Vivian Bansal

I tend to make Maria’s on the end of a glass rod when I need to pull stringer – the flat surface is really helpful because it allows me to build a larger size gather for complex striped cane.

A Maria is a disc-like shape that is several times larger than the diameter of the rod. It is formed by compressing the end of a glass rod onto a flat surface. To make a Maria, hold the end of the glass rod in the flame in your dominant hand. Adjust the flame of the torch to a narrow, sharp edge flame so that it is not too hot. Turn the glass evenly and slowly so that the flame soaks the glass. Once the glass is soft and molten, remove it from the flame and press down onto a flat surface such as graphite so that a disc shape is formed onto the end of the glass rod. And voila, a Maria!

9. Christina Burkhart

My best tip is to experiment with your colors and kiln temperatures. You get the best colors when you experiment and all kilns are different.

10. Louise Ingram

I can share the Faux Boro technique, a lot of people seem to like the colours in these beads.

I make a small base bead first -- different colours yield different results but one that looks really pretty is Rubino Oro.  Onto the base bead I lay down a twisty made with Moretti Straw Yellow and one or more of the Reichenbach Iris colours, then I encase the bead with clear.  The encasing helps magnify what is going on with the Iris colours underneath.  The thing to remember is to only use a little of the Reichenbach.  There is a 90% rule that says no more than 10% of the incompatible glass, and I try to keep it well below that. If you use too much the beads will crack!

11. James Bielenberg

Keep your workspace clean and organized.  If you leave it at the end of the day, clean it before you start working the next morning. I cannot tell you how many times I have broken this golden rule and wound up frustrated and had to stop and clean.

12. Astrid Boyce

I hate frit on a stick so I heat all my glass rods on a coffee cup warmer. They cost about $10 at Target, I think the brand on mine is Mr. Coffee. You can do the waving your rod in the top of the flame thing but that drives me bats, I want to pick up and go. I also have an XL lentil press from Zoozii’s that doesn’t get much use as a press but it’s fantastic for frit, I like to have a cup shape to roll frit from, you can go deeper and get better coverage.

13. Gelly Davis

Safety first!  To me, that should be the only rule when creating.  The best advice I can give anyone is to try anything and everything that you want to try.  Don’t get stuck in the “rules” that some people seem to think you have to follow. 

If you don’t care to make a perfectly shaped donut bead, why on earth would you sit there and torture yourself by having to make a hundred of them before moving on to another shape or technique? 

If you really want to make an encased floral bead, go for it!  Want to start playing with stringer decoration?  Go ahead and try it!!!  It really doesn’t matter if your base bead is perfectly centered and balanced if what you really want to do is jump right into the decorating part.  The time and practice that you put into learning how to make an encased floral will also be time spent subconsciously learning how the different colors of glass flow, heat control and shaping.  Getting a feel of how the glass works is what is important… not strict rules and guidelines on the steps taken to get there.

My thought process is, if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right!  Do what feels right for you.


1.Shelby Ring

Glass is one of the hardest surfaces to photograph!  Biggest tip – get a tripod and use a long exposure to photograph beads.  Using a long exposure will allow you to use dimmer lighting, which will reduce the “hot spots” or spots of high glare and reflection.  For the same reason, try to diffuse your light source, it doesn’t have to be fancy, white tissue paper or wax paper between your bead and the light source will help reduce hot spots.

2. Ellen Dooley

I use a Canon Powershot camera and natural light.  I also like to have some sort of prop. I use old paintings, an antler I found in the desert, all sorts of things that I use as backgrounds to photograph my beads. 

3. Lynn Bauter

I use a Nikon D80 for my bead pictures and I’ve learned, over the years two things that work best for me: 1) don’t use too much lighting and, 2) the gradient, white to black, background made a huge difference, for me, in how my beads photograph and gives them a more “professional” look and feel (as opposed to a plain white background).

4. Patsy Evins

My camera is a Canon EOS 20D digital. We use professional studio lights.  We lay the beads on a non-reflective piece of glass. The backgrounds we use are either a grey gradient photography background or white watercolor paper. We use a tripod for the camera. All the equipment can be bought at an online photography supply store.  The best tip is to use an 18% grey, white balance card to calibrate the camera for true colors before you start to take photos. Another great tip is to use polarized filters on your lights to get rid of reflections.

5. Georgie Field

Even though I bought a lightbox, I made another one out of a box and some tissue paper. The box has a large window on three of the walls to provide a frame work for the white tissue paper. The box bottom is the back and is intact but I suspend gradient paper from the roof as a backdrop. The other end is the opening where I normally shoot from and has the flaps removed. The wall that is intact is the base and the gradient paper drapes onto it. I put some flaps in the tissue paper so that I can put my hand in the side to change things around or to shoot from the top. I have the strongest white lights I could find, two of them.

I recently purchased a Nikon D90 and plan to get a macro lens for it in the future. Before that I used a well loved Canon g9 Powershot.

6. Starleen Colo’n

Invest in a high quality camera, and edit the background without compromising the coloration of the bead in hand. Do not edit out flaws. Let the buyer see your product as is.

7. Anouk Jasperse

I have a Canon 1000-D with just the regular lens. I just make sure that bead has enough (indirect) light, I want the colors to come out as true as possible.

8. Elly Peters

I use a Nikon D40 SLR.  I put it on Macro setting, and try to photograph my beads outside in the daylight, in a photo tent.  Take tons of pictures, they’re digital and free!  A tripod is nice to have to protect from shaking. Try not to leave too much empty space, crop it out in your photo editing program, so that the bead is up close and personal. (you’ll find out quickly how blurry the picture is when you do this, so it’s good to take more than one picture!)  If you know how to set your white balance, do so.

9. Judy Carlson

I have an Olympus E520 and I like to use a 50mm lens for close ups. I like sunlight! Sometimes, direct or filtered slightly. I have two of the photo tents, but tend to put the bead on a stand and in the sun and shoot away. I’m not the best person to ask this question

TIP: Do you have a cat? make sure there is no cat hair on your bead BEFORE you begin your photos. Nothing more frustrating than spending all that time taking the pictures, upload them, only to see cat fur stuck on the fish face!

10. Mike Shelbo

I use a crappy old 3.2 megapixel sony camera which has a really nice Carl Zeiss lens on it and I built a photo set up in my garage that has a photo grey backdrop and I am currently using a 400 watt PhotoFlood bulb and different light diffusion techniques.  My only tip is that each piece needs different lighting and possibly different camera settings.  The more you photo the more you learn. My photos as of the last 6 months are far better than they ever have been and they are mostly of my Goblin beads.

11. Marilyn Peraza

I’m using a Nikon Cool Pix.   Make sure your camera has a macro setting for taking those close-up photos.   I get my best photos in natural morning lighting.  Tip- try taking photos in various settings and lighting to see where you can get your best results.

12. Sarah Hornik

I use a Konica-Minolta DImage A200, which I am quite happy with. I also use a lot of Photoshop.

I wrote a tutorial about it once – here’s a link.

13. Lyn Richards


I have 2 photo cubes, I use a Canon Power Shot Pro digital, Photoshop 6.0 and have a LOT of tips as I used to be a professional photographer!

First off I own two light tents. Second... I rarely use them!
I've found that I prefer natural outdoor lighting (when possible), or an indoor single large spot light, a reflector card to bounce the light back to my beads, and I shoot from above! I own an 8 Megapixel Canon Powershot Pro with Super Macro abilities (a MUST when shooting small subjects) and a tripod.

I have a background in professional commercial photography from back in the 80s, which certainly helps me. Most of my work then was with a large format film camera. While digital is SO much different than film photography, I LOVE the instant gratification of being able to review and reject poor shots instantly.

Things to remember when shooting pictures of beads;
Don't use flash, use stationary lighting so you can "see" what the actual shot will look like. Flash also reflects off the beads and creates white-out, masking or hiding features on the beads. A diffused white spot will show the features without creating over-exposed areas.

Make sure you thoroughly clean your beads (remove finger prints, assure you have smooth ends and clean holes) after the initial bead release removal, to remove any trace of finger prints & bead release, It SHOWS UP in photos!

Take SEVERAL shots of the same setup from different angles and in different positions. It's amazing what looks good through the lens, doesn't on the screen.

Take photos of your beads on both sides if they are flat, and roil them if they are round. Show customers EXACTLY what they are getting.

Use Photoshop 6 or better to clean up your lighting (using levels). Lampwork Etc. has some GREAT tutorials on using levels to brighten up your pictures!

Good luck!



We have had so many wonderful bead artists featured over the years who have shared lots of fantastic tips, tricks and advice.

Here are 13 of our favourite bead making and photography tips.

We would like to thank each and every artist we have featured over the years and wish them and all of you only the very best..