In the summer of 2003 I had the chance to take a beading workshop with Wendy Ellsworth at Common Ground on the Hill in Westminster, MD. The workshop was actually on making a lidded vessel, but I convinced Wendy to show me the techniques of making this gourd stitch bracelet.

gourd stitch bracelet

When I came home I wanted to make more bracelets, but I had trouble finding suitable buttons for the closures, so I made a barrette and decided I needed to learn to make glass buttons myself! I took a workshop on flameworked beadmaking in early February at the Sharon Arts Center near Peterborough, NH. Sally Prasch was a wonderful teacher and I left knowing a little and anxious to do more work in the flame!

At the end of February I spent two days with Ann Scherm in her studio in Virginia Beach and came away with new techniques and a "burning" desire to get set up for melting glass in my basement. (See pictures of me making a lampworked bead.)

calla lily bead

I admired one of Ann's beads that reminded me of a calla lily. This was one of my first beads on my own torch.

detail of turquoise and ivory bead

Ann also taught me about the cool reactions of turquoise glass and ivory -- also about silvered ivory stringer -- and when my friend Michael Millard saw some early samples he said "make me a dozen". I did. And then some more.

Anna's beads:  turquoise and ivory lampworked beads

One thing leads to another. And I treasure my time spent at the torch making lampworked beads. But I still wanted to make cool buttons for beaded bracelets. That's when I took up fusing glass. It turned out that making buttons was an entirely different process -- and in some ways easier. The irony is that once I learned to work with the dichroic glass in my fusing kiln, I didn't have much time for making beaded bracelets. Ah well... I'd rather be melting glass!

Barb Ackemann

Brattleboro, Vermont