“I first became familiar with the ancient art of making beads from glass — called lampworking — after taking a jewelry class at my local craft store,” says Donna Trull, a nail tech at Studio 413 Salon and Spa in Albany, Ga.
“I first became familiar with the ancient art of making beads from glass — called lampworking — after taking a jewelry class at my local craft store,” says Donna Trull, a nail tech at Studio 413 Salon and Spa in Albany, Ga. “I couldn’t find any unique beads to design into jewelry, so I began searching the web and realized there was a whole community of glass artists around the world willing to share their knowledge.” Trull bought a beginner kit and began at her kitchen table. Soon she upgraded to a bigger torch, an oxygen concentrator (a machine that makes pure oxygen from the air), and a kiln.
The glass she uses comes in colored rods about the size of a pencil. “I choose a color to work with and begin melting the rod in the flame of a 2,000ºF torch,” she says. “I wind the melted glass onto a metal rod coated in a clay mixture to keep the hot glass from sticking to the metal. Keeping the bead hot, I can then choose other colors and make dots, swirls, and lines. I can poke holes in it, mash it, roll it, or dip it in crushed glass. The possibilities are endless.” After a bead is made, it is placed in a kiln heated to 970ºF to stabilize the glass. “This is a very hot job in south Georgia in the middle of the summertime!” says Trull.
Trull’s jewelry is for sale at the salon, and her loose beads are available on Etsy.com under the name dtclampwork. “My clients love my beads and jewelry though they occasionally express concern that I may quit nails one day to be a glass artist full time,” says Trull. “I tell them not to fear as nails will always be my first love, but who knows, maybe 3,000 years from now someone will still be wearing a bead I made. How cool would that be?”