Lampworking is a centuries-old process by which glass is heated by hot flames and shaped around a metal rod. The result is a truly unique bead full of life and color. Grace Ma who founded Grace Lampwork beads has mastered this process for the modern artisan to create incredible works of art. Grace is originally from Beijing, China, where she worked on computers for a living. When her husband found a new job in the United States in 2001, they moved to San Jose, CA—and Grace first discovered lampwork beads. While visiting her sister in September 2002, Grace went to a bead show and fell in love with the gorgeous glass lampwork beads on display. From then on she knew she wanted to make lampwork beads. Knowing nothing about the process, she taught herself how to make them. She purchased books, videos, and took classes from Kim Osibin. Grace started to make beads in October 2002, and began selling her products on EBay three months later. She did her first bead show in July 2004 and was a hit. She realized she needed to train her employees how to make her beads to keep up with demand!
Photo Source: gracebeads.com.
What makes Grace Ma’s lampwork beads special is the dedicated time she puts into them. Each bead is annealed overnight—the process of cooling glass to relieve internal stress after it was formed. She does this because if the glass is not annealed, it will retain many of the thermal stresses and decrease the strength of the glass. Each one of her beads takes 5 to 10 minutes to make, just to ensure her customers get the best quality products. We are proud to carry Grace Ma lampwork beads here, and encourage you to check them out and make them part of your collection!
Visit her website, or read the full interview conducted by Alison Schmidt from The Ruby
Check back tomorrow for day two of DesignerFest when we discuss Fire Designs furnace glass beads!