Monday, February 21, 2011

A Garden in Glass

Today's featured artist is Blissful Gardens Beads.

Listed on the Blissful Garden Blog as Feb 17 Special

I wanted to show you all lots and lots of gorgeous beads and offer a bit of insight into a fabulous artist names Heather Davis.  The problem with that is 1, the fabulous beads she makes never last long enough in her shop for the posting to be accurate, and 2, perhaps more importantly, I really know precious little about Heather, which in a way says a lot about her work.  She has been able to quietly and consistent build a business that is a part of the jewelry making world just on the power of the beauty and quality of her art. 

These were featured in Dec.  Image from Heather's Blog.
Heather does lampwork.  Now, for any of you who do not know what lampwork involves I will offer a very quick, and hopefully somewhat accurate picture of what it entails.  The artist prepares steel mandrels (rods) with a release agent and then, after warming long glass rods in a torch flame, wraps the near molten glass around the mandrel.  Sometimes only one color and sometimes many colors are whirled together or dropped in discreet parts of the beads to form a pattern, depending on the effect the artist desires.

Links to Blissful Garden's Blog
BLISS Pale Blue Swirls

You can see in both of these beads the effect of the colored glasses in the beads.  These beads are more on the flat (smooth) side similar to the bases of the floral beads.  Yes, these beads were made by Heather too.

Once this base 'bead' is formed, Heather takes 10 giant steps forward and creates gardens of flowers on her beads.  Yes, each one is still made using the nearly molten glass, which is attached to the bead base while it is still warm. 

One of the more profound things about all this is that when Heather is working with the glass, she can not see the final product as hot glass glows a deep orangey-red tone.  Heather's amazing gift is the ability to instinctively know what the molten glass will produce once it is cooled.  I think you can see, she is extremely talented.

Karen does her beads in a variety of shapes, including squares, hearts, little houses, tulip flowers and of course the amazing round ones.  Often the sets will have a couple of matching spacer beads to mix in when the buyer uses the more decorated beads, but that can also be used on their own. 

These are from December 2010. The link goes to Heather's shop.

These are called Speckled Tulip Beads and I think you can see why.  I would like to say I know how the speckles are added but I am not sure.  I do know there is a technique that uses glass frit, or small bits of glass to add color and this may be a case of as the bead is being produced they are rolled in the frit to add the speckles.  However the effect is added, these are spectacular!!  And yes, the color is permanent to the glass.

Now, you might be thinking glass beads with be fragile and not hold up.  I have to admit, when I first saw these gorgeous lampwork treasures, that is what I thought.  But the truth is they are not very fragile at all.  Heather makes each bead and then the beads are put through a kiln annealing process that takes many hours.  This tempers the glass making each and every bead very strong and durable. 

You can see in the image below, Blissful Garden Beads are an amazing addition to finest handmade jewelry. 

This necklace, which has matching earrings and bracelet was made by Karen Snyder using Blissful Garden Beads.  Its an amazing piece that showcases the beads as well as the chainmaille of Karen from OSebastian Studio

No link is shown with the picture since the pieces are already in their forever home.

I hope you can see from the pictures how wonderful the lampwork that comes out of Heather's Washington State studio are.  There really are no words that adequately express how amazing they are, with each bead unique to itself and unreproducible,  they truly are a Garden in Glass you can hold in your hand.  I hope that you will all take the time to stop by Heather's shop and look at the beads currently available.  I know you will not be able to pass them up.

Blissful Garden Beads on Artfire
You can find Heather's shops on:

Artfire:     Blissful Garden Beads on Artfire
Facebook   :  Blissful Garden Beads
And on Heather's blog:   Blissful Garden Beads Blog


  1. Thank you so much Candy! That was so sweet of you. I am very shy so I am blushing, but I really appriciate it. Wonderfully written and well put together.

  2. Thank you both but I am sure you both know it is not hard to put something like this together when you have such wonderful artists to showcase. Heather's beads are simply amazing and I just can not imagine everyone falling in love with them as soon as they see them.

  3. Oh well done Candy! You know that I agree with you on Heather's beads and their loveliness. You did a great job of explaining the process so that others can appreciate the time, effort and creative talent that Heather puts into every bead. Well-done!!

  4. Oh my Gosh, Karen, I hardly scratched the surface of what it really takes to make these kinds of magical treasures... I saw it done one day for just a plain, smooth surface bead. It's mesmerizing to watch it done, and you can not really see the patterns, at least not like what we see when we see the finished beads. To me, it would be like doing chainmaille with a blindfold on. Heather's talent and patience is amazing.