Evelyn Henschke, the making of my glass bead jewellery, Cowaramup July 2020

The Academy for Glass and Jewellery in Kaufbeuren, Germany strives to keep craftsmanship and tradition alive and pass it on to a small number of students—I am one of the fortunate few to have attained these skills.

I love tradition, I love combining solid craftsmanship with passion and producing quality work. To melt my glass I use a traditional Bohemian Lampfire, a torch some 80 years old, and then wind the molten glass around a mandrel “stick”.

The molten glass can be coaxed into shape, manipulated with tweezers and spatulas, twisted, pulled and decorated. Some beads undergo multiple processes of layering different glasses, manipulating it into shape and adding texture, before I am happy with the result. Whilst I respect tradition, I do employ the use of a kiln to anneal my beads and make them break resistant—my one concession to progress.

Bead making is an intuitive process and I lose myself within my own space. A bower bird by nature, I love creating this kind of jewellery as I’m drawn to and collect shiny, pretty things. To produce something completely unexpected and be mesmerized by it, and most importantly, create something that brings joy, is intensely satisfying.

I have a playful approach to this old trade and love the temperamental alchemy of glass. I constantly absorb colour, shape and texture, whatever I do and wherever I go. An inevitable inspiration comes from the diversity of Australia’s flora and fauna. These impressions somehow work their way into my jewellery.

To make one piece of jewellery I often make 10 times the number of beads required to give me enough to choose from. Besides glass, I also use Silver and Australian gold to make my jewellery. The cream on top of a new creation is a lustrous South Sea pearl as they form an intriguing partnership with my glass beads.