Guest Exhibitor Wendy Hitchins


My website is:  www.beadywendy.com.au 

Facebook is:  https://www.facebook.com/beadywendybeads/

I love making glass beads and jewellery.  I’m self-taught.  I began my glass journey in Canada in 2001.  Since then I have studied with some well-known glass bead makers over the years.  To make a glass bead I melt rods of Italian glass in a very hot flame of oxygen and propane and wind the molten glass around a stainless steel mandrel coated in a special clay solution.  I form the bead from the background colour – out. An average bead takes about 20 minutes to create but it must be annealed in a kiln at 520C for a minimum of 20 minutes.  The inside of the bead is still almost molten as the outside begins to cool and this can cause cracks in the glass. The annealing process allows the atoms in the glass to settle down and relieves any stress and slows the cooling process down so the outside and the inside cool at similar rates.

I love making glass beads and jewellery.  I’m self-taught.  I began my glass journey in Canada in 2001.  Since then I have studied with some well-known glass bead makers over the years.  To make a glass bead I melt rods of Italian glass in a very hot flame of oxygen and propane and wind the molten glass around a stainless steel mandrel coated in a special clay solution.  I form the bead from the background colour – out.  An average bead takes about 20 minutes to create but it must be annealed in a kiln at 520C for a minimum of 20 minutes.  The inside of the bead is still almost molten as the outside begins to cool and this can cause cracks in the glass. The annealing process allows the atoms in the glass to settle down and relieves any stress and slows the cooling process down so the outside and the inside cool at similar rates.

 

Once the beads are made and have cooled slowly overnight, they are gently removed from the mandrel and the clay is cleaned from inside the bead.  After drying, the beads are ready to be made into a piece or for sale individually.  So, the ‘birth’ of a bead is 24 hours.

My jewellery design inspirations come from all around me.  Most often, though, the design is beginning to form in my mind as I make the bead.  Sometimes I start out with one colour in mind but as the glass melts, it takes me in other directions.  It’s not unusual at the end of the day to see the glass rods I set out at the start, still waiting to be used as I’ve taken a different path with other colours.  I like that free form way of working.  I don’t mind making the same bead in large numbers but I really like to make one of a kind beads.

My jewellery designs have won several awards over the years of which I’m very proud. Last year I was engaged to make Anniversary Beads for the Bead Society of Victoria (Australia) which were given to the members to celebrate 20 years of the association. I’m always open to creating custom pieces.  I like the challenge of trying to interpret the customer’s vision.