Why ‘Let Fire Inspire’?
When I initially started making lampwork glass beads I opted for a 'name + description' title for my business - specifically ‘Rebecca Weddell Lampwork Glass Beads’. Not terribly inspiring!
My late grandfather-in-law, a steam-railway enthusiast, had written a book called ‘Let Smoke Make Steam’ - and this moved me to rebrand as ‘Let Fire Inspire’. It fits the bill perfectly!
Lampwork? What is that?
Lampwork is the art of melting and shaping glass at the torch flame. Going back many many years, artisans would use an oil lamp for their flame - hence ‘lampwork’.
I love glass beads, but sometimes the ones I buy from bead shops are dusty. Why is this, and what can I do about it?
The dust is residue of ‘bead release’, which is a crystalline silica ‘clay’. Beads wound on steel mandrels would be fused forever to the mandrels if the mandrels didn’t have this clay on them - it’s a sacrificial layer which can be crumbled away in order to remove the beads from the mandrels. It is necessary for the clay residue to then be safely removed from the bead holes using water and a file. The dust is harmful if breathed in, which is why I take great care to remove all traces of it from my beads.
If you have bought dusty beads from a bead shop, don’t panic! You simply need a file (I use a steel diamond needle file, but some bead shops might be able to sell you a bead reamer) and a washing-up bowl of clean water. Holding the bead under the water, carefully file the hole until no residue remains, and then rinse and dry the beads. Perfect!
Where are you based?
I rent a workshop at Village Works in the centre of East Hoathly, near Lewes, East Sussex. My neighbours at Village Works include a photographer, an osteopathy practice, a woodengraver/signwriter/sculptor, a flower school, a dressmaking studio/sewing school, and a homeopathic veterinary practice. It's a lovely place to work.
Find me here.
Where can I buy your beads?
Buy my beads from the LetFireInspire shop on Etsy, or by appointment at the workshop. I occasionally attend bead fairs and events in Sussex and Surrey.
You're welcome to visit my workshop without notice during my summer open studio events, when I'll have beads and jewellery for sale.
This year I am open 11am to 5pm during Lewes Artwave and Chiddingly Artists Open Studios.
Do you ship worldwide?
Yes, absolutely. I charge shipping and packaging at cost.
Can I visit your workshop?
Visitors are very welcome! Outside of open studio events, please let me know in advance that you’re coming, so that I can ensure that I’m available.
Can I request a custom order?
I sometimes receive requests for custom orders, and you are very welcome to ask! Do though please be aware that I work in a particular style - I focus specifically on the ‘little and round’ and work with my favoured brands and types of glass. If your commission is for something that is not typical of my existing form of work, or is outside of my experience, please don’t be offended if I am unable to take it on. Thank you.
How long have you been working with glass?
I made my first bead in 2003 and set up my first workshop in April 2004. After working on a part-time basis in various timber sheds in the gardens of successive homes, I set up what is now my permanent workshop in 2013.
Why do you only make beads at the flame, rather than other things out of glass too?
All of my work is made on mandrels, so each piece has a hole in the middle! Beadmaking is a very specific craft, and beads are my primary (indeed my only) focus.
How long does it take to make a bead?
Well, how long is a piece of string?! Plain spacer beads - simple, smallish beads with no decoration - take me two to three minutes per bead.
Simple designs such as random dots take another couple of minutes.
My more complex designs - spiral scrolls, layered dots, layered stripes, ‘harlequin’ designs, to name but a few - can take way longer.
The largest bead I have ever made, which was a complex hazed core merging from handmixed green to hazy white to handmixed blue, with successive layers of encasing, manipulating, more encasing and shaping, took an hour and a half!
Can I learn how to make beads?
I teach a variety of courses here in my workshop. Find out more.
I’d like to do a course with you - can I take my beads home with me the same day?
Hot glass needs to be kiln-annealed for lasting strength. Beads that cool too quickly will break. For this reason, the beads you make will be put into my pre-heated kiln straight from the torch flame as we go along, where they will be annealed (cooled very, very slowly) overnight. I aim to post my students’ beads to them the day after their course (or on the following Monday, if the course is on a Friday or Saturday). Postage of your beads is included in your course fee.
I can’t see a course timetable on your website. When do you run them?
My one-off courses (taster sessions, half-day sessions and all-day sessions) are run on demand - it is a case of you and me simply comparing diaries and picking a mutually-convenient date!
My Journey into Beadmaking course is scheduled for specific dates, starting in October 2018.
It’s just me, so do you charge extra for one-to-one tuition?
No! You’re very welcome to come for one-to-one tuition at no additional charge. Ready-made groups are welcome - if you’d like to come with your best mate, a couple of family members, or Uncle Tom Cobbleigh*, yes, absolutely. My courses are priced per person, regardless of the number of participants. I can take up to four people at a time.
*or indeed anyone you choose!
Do you have a mailing list?
Not any more. These days I prefer to keep in touch via Twitter and Instagram - do pop over there and follow me to keep up-to-date with what’s going on! Click on the icons at the bottom of this page to find @letfireinspire.
I update my Journal page frequently, so you’ll also see my latest news on there.
Thanks for reading my FAQ!
If you'd like to contact me about something not covered, please get in touch.