Hi, I'm Judith Johnston. I design and make artisan lampwork beads and jewellery in my studio based in Hove, England. I have been making jewellery since 1998 and lampwork beads since 2002. What started out as a hobby when my children were very small quickly escalated to a full blown obsession. Over the years I have spent many, many hours at the torch, learning, playing and trying to perfect my techniques.
I love making glass beads, the joy in making something small, intricate and fragile yet equally strong and durable. I find the play of light on colour, the reflections and the sparkles utterly enchanting and this is what I hope to share with you.
Why I Love Lampwork Glass Beads
I love melting glass in a torch flame, for me it's like meditating. Something about the glow of the molten glass, the way it moves like warm honey, trying to read the heat and giving it my full attention so I know when and how to work it and not burn myself - lol!
Glass really does have a mind of it's own, one minute exciting the next infuriating, I can never be entirely sure if something is a success until I open the kiln the next day. The thrill of opening the kiln door and finding something beautiful or unexpected never gets old.
Art glass beads are created using an ancient technique called lampworking. Rods of glass are melted in the flame using a special torch (the lamp) then the molten glass is wrapped around a thin steel mandrel to form a bead. The bead is made from the centre working out, building layer upon layer with meticulous care and attention to detail. Some of the complex beads can take several hours to complete and often feature inclusions of precious metals, cubic zirconia and murrini - tiny chips of glass containing pictures such as flowers, butterflies and fish.
While it is possible to repeat a particular design in molten glass the results will always vary. Some differences in design, shape, size and colour are intrinsic to the glass making process which means that each piece is unique to you and truly one of a kind.
Once the lampwork beads are annealed, cooled and cleaned they are ready to make into jewellery. Using traditional silversmith techniques I combine precious metals with lampwork beads, gemstones and pearls to create unique glass jewellery.