who are the watsons?
We are a 30-something married couple who decided to leave behind our home, careers and comfortable Silicon Valley lifestyle to try a new course. Join us as we travel the world to learn about other cultures, lifestyles and ways to generate income beyond the traditional 9-5.

Art Adventures: Lampwork Beadmaking

Recently, I went to Volcano to study lampwork with local artist Patricia Larsen-Goodin.  She and I had met at 2400 Fahrenheit‘s annual sale the week prior and, when she heard I was interested in learning lampwork, she invited me to visit her studio.  Brian and I drove up on Monday and spent two nights with Patricia and her husband, Bill.

While the gals were holed up in Patricia’s studio, Brian and Bill toured the local sights on Bill’s motorcycle, visiting the local winery and the “most southern” — I think they mean the southernmost — bar in the United States.  It was Brian’s first time on a bike.  Not to worry, they both put on helmets after this picture was taken.

Over two days in the studio, I learned a lot about tools, safety, glass properties and the lampwork community…and I made tons of beads.  My favorite, purely aesthetically, is the pea green bead with dark teal, raised dots:

On our last morning, when the beadmaking and kilning were finished, Patricia helped me design some jewelry from my creations and demonstrated the finer points of finishing jewelry.  We made a bracelet filled with many of the beads that I worked very hard to produce.  To get all eight finished took me quite a while and a couple of minor explosions!

Each of the large beads involved:

  1. Laying molten glass onto the mandrel and fashioning it into a round bead,
  2. Adding large dots of another color glass and melting that into the bead,
  3. Adding a second set of dots on top of the prior dots and melting them in,
  4. Piercing the dots to create air bubbles, and then
  5. Laying clear glass on top.

We also made two sets of earrings from my earliest lampwork attempts (yeah, they’re a little wonky and one bead is even burned, but they’re still pretty):

From the experience, I learned that lampwork is a challenging and detail-oriented art form. It looks easy when Patricia does it, but it is not!  Here is a photo I snapped of her tide pools necklace, one of my favorites.  Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Patricia has been working in the lampwork field for more than 20 years, and she recently decided to open her studio for classes.  If you would like to learn lampwork, and you’re on the Big Island or are willing to travel, give her a shout.  She and Bill even have a comfy guest apartment where students can stay.

Thanks again, Patricia and Bill, for your hospitality!

  • Amanda

    I want some! Pretty!!!! :) :)

  • http://watsons-unleashed.com Kate

    You always love the jewelry! I sent most of these back home to Cali, but I'll be on the look out for presents for you going forward. :-)

  • http://watsons-unleashed.com Kate

    You always love the jewelry! I sent most of these back home to Cali, but I'll be on the look out for presents for you going forward. :-)

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