How It Is Made

Design - Elegant.  Lasting.

Bijouxbead is an exclusive collection of one of a kind and limited edition artisanal jewellery made with art glass and precious metals.  Pendants, necklaces, bracelets and earrings, all lovingly and thoughtfully made, are presented as distinctive collections, all with an intriguing story of the inspiration behind each one.  Beyond simply an aesthetic form, good design for me means combining the rational and emotional, enriching my work through an extreme attention to craftsmanship, carefully considered details and high quality components.  Integral to my approach is the connection between the the collections and the stories of their inspiration; this makes my work more meaningful to me and it also resonates with many of my customers.

Craftsmanship and Quality - Lampworking.  Metalsmithing.

Lampworking, also known as flameworking or torchworking is the method I use to create the glass in my jewellery.  I use soda-lime glass, often referred to as soft glass.  My torch runs at about 1700 degrees Fahrenheit and is fed by a mixture of natural gas and oxygen.  In my left hand, I hold a stainless steel mandrel coated in a graphite clay mixture, and in my right hand I melt the raw glass rods down and apply them to the mandrel.  I use various brass and graphite tools to help me shape the glass, but for the most part, I achieve the shape of my glass through sight and feel - it is largely a balance thing for me.  I'm well known for adding other materials to the glass, such as fine silver, 24karat gold, and/or sodium bicarbonate.  Layering opaque and transparent glasses over each other helps me achieve the level of depth seen in my finished work.  Glass colour is achieved by it's mineral content - there is no dye or paint in it whatsoever, and the science of glass, such as it's coefficient of expansion, I find fascinating.  Once I am happy with the shape and design of my pieces, I quickly transfer the mandrel and glass into a kiln that is holding at about 980 degrees Fahrenheit.  No further manipulation of the glass is done in the kiln.  At the end of the day, I initiate a digital annealing schedule, whereby the temperature is slowly brought down to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit over a period of approximately 8 hours.  This annealing process is what gives the glass its structural integrity.  When I return to the studio the next day, the glass is at room temperature, and ready for the cold work.  Cold work includes reaming, grinding, polishing and cleaning, and sometimes I go a step further and etch or sandblast for a frosted appearance.

I take great pride in also producing a very limited quantity of hand sculpted silver and gold medallion clasps for my exclusive one of a kind feature necklaces.  I only make one feature necklace per collection, so these pieces are of particular interest to avid collectors.  The clasps are designed to be worn in front, slighly offset.

Putting it all together - Assembly.  Customization.

There is quite a bit of work in creating the finished pieces.  Matching, stringing, knotting, wire wrapping, crimping.  But the beauty of this process is that I can actually do it anywhere, so you will often see me making the finished pieces on site at arts and crafts shows.  This is helpful in two ways;  it affords me the most amount of studio time to concentrate of glass and metal production, and it allows people to see a bit of the process of making. Having my basic tools with me at shows allows me the added bonus of being able to offer custom sizing while you wait, which I find myself doing often, and which customers really appreciate.

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