A Mom & Daughter Shop, the Bead Tree girls create Fire Crafted Glass Beads & Artisan Jewelry. We both reside in the sunny & yes, often freezing cold city of Edmonton, Alberta & have been running our business full steam since 2003.
For over a decade, we have been very fortunate to be able to create jewelry for women who want to wear accessories that make them look as special on the outside as they feel on the inside.
Having a direct connection with you is exciting because you know where our jewelry comes from, the process of how it's made & the care & craftsmanship behind it. This makes each piece that more unique.
MEET THE MAKERS
Hi, I'm Carrie, the Glass Bead Creator! When I'm not spinning my fingers making wee glass wonders in a flame, you can find me gardening in my yard or snapping photos of the dazzling sunrises in Edmonton.
"Just to let you know, the beads arrived safely today. I can hardly bear to put them down, they are everything and more than I had expected. Fantastic!" ~ Lynne S.
Well Hello, I'm Judy, the Jewelry Maker! When I'm not designing & creating wearable art, I'm painting on real canvases, creating hangable art. That or sipping on a glass of wine & watching the beautiful sunsets in Edmonton.
Tidbits: I have a university degree in Fine Arts & have shown my paintings in dozens of galleries throughout Alberta. I earned my pilot's licence when I was 23 years old & saw the REAL Elvis perform live in Vegas. You can find me in the woods taking photos of Aspen & Birch trees throughout the fall, I am happiest when I'm in the company of my family & I'm addicted to audiobooks.
"Yesterday I wore the moon rock earrings & silk tie. What a hit! I think 18 out of my 22 students touched the necklace and asked about it. I even received compliments from parents!" ~ Michelle M.
"I couldn't believe it when Kevin bought two bracelets, what a treat! Your work is so gorgeous, it's hard to imagine beads can be so beautiful." ~ Kimberley B
"I just wanted to thank you for your jewelry and fast shipping! They are so lovely, I wear them daily! I am looking forward to more of your creations. ~ Claudia P.
The name, the Bead Tree is a nod to my father, Judy's Husband, Bob, who loved to go for walks in the woods & always took the time to appreciate the beauty of the trees.
We discovered glass bead making by accident shortly after my Dad passed away from cancer in August 2002. In September of that year, my Mom & I took a bead stringing course through a program offered at a cancer institute, along with a variety of art classes for cancer patients & people affected by cancer, as a form of therapy. (My mom was facilitating art courses there at the time & that’s how she heard about the beading class & decided to sign us both up for it, thinking it would help us with our loss.)
We began the classes, stringing together a variety of beads into bracelets & necklaces while sharing our stories & on the last day, we were shown some special glass beads, made by a local Artisan named Phil. We were each allowed to pick one of his beads to complete our projects. When I first saw his little glass wonders, my heart skipped with excitement ~ it was magic! I was blown away by how beautiful they were & that they were locally made.
We got in touch with Phil & he offered to teach both Judy & I how to make them. During his class, I fell in love with the process of melting glass with a torch & making miniature works of art. Judy, being a prolific painter, discovered that her love for colour & pattern played a big part in the designing & stringing together of jewelry.
At the time, I had just graduated with a BA & though I was tired of school, I was going to go back to work on a Master's in Anthropology. My Mom, on the other hand, was a full time Artist, but was having trouble finding her focus after losing her husband. When we were finished the class with Phil, I said to her, “let’s go into business together! I’ll make glass beads & you can design jewelry with them.” She had been thinking the very same thing.
By January 2003, I had set up a studio at her house where my Dad's office was & she set up an area to work on making jewelry near by. I would come over every day & we would work together, which was so good for us. I truly believe this business was a gift from my Dad. It helped us heal, bond & move forward.
Our creative collaborations continue to be a great source of joy for both us & we hope the love of what we do is reflected in our pieces. The glass beads are made, one at a time, therefore, each one is different, all are unique. It is this special quality that we try to connect to our customers, accentuating their own beauty & uniqueness.
"Looking around the web at what's out there, I have to tell you, your work is exquisite! I have never seen beads so beautiful!" ~ Priscilla M.
"I was so happy to see the necklace in the mailbox this evening when I got home. I just love it, and so does my youngest daughter. So that means that Katie, the one who's getting it for Christmas, will no doubt, love it too! Thank you so much for everything! You have been wonderful!" ~ Becky C.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do you actually make a glass bead?
Glass bead making is sometimes called "Lampworking", a term that refers to the original technique of melting glass in a flame of an oil lamp, while blowing air through a pipe to heat the glass. The archeological record suggests that humans were making glass beads this way as early as the fifth century BC. Today however, most Artisans, including myself, use a multi-flame torch that runs on propane & pure oxygen. I first dip stainless steel rods, known as mandrels in a clay base formula that helps with the release of the bead after it's made. This clay dipped mandrel is heated in the flame of my torch & rods of glass are then melted onto the mandrel while being continuously spun. There are various techniques applied at this stage to create the bead, which is then fired in a kiln in order to fuse it so that it becomes very strong.
How long does it take to make a bead?
I get asked this question all the time & I never know how to properly answer it. The truth is, it just depends. Through the years, my beads have become more complex & the components I incorporate require a lot of prep time. On average though, I can roughly say that most of the smaller beads are made within a half an hour & the bigger beads take 3/4 of an hour to a full hour, but this time frame is a little skewed. Some days are diamonds, some days are dogs. I can go weeks without any inspiration & then have a full week of bead bliss. Typically, I try to torch 4 to 6 hours a day & usually produce 8 to 12 "good" beads in that stretch.
Have you had any training in making glass beads?
Yes, the introductory class with Phil Neary was just the beginning! Below is a list of classes of taken through the years. I've been very fortunate to learn from some of the greatest contemporary Flameworkers:
Oct 2007 * Glass Techniques with Jennifer Geldard
June 2008 * Glass Techniques with Michael Barley
Aug 2009 * Teacher's Assistant to Loren Stump
June 2010 * Glass Techniques with Melanie Moertel
Oct 2013 * Enamel & Stringer work with Astrid Riedel
Do you teach glass bead making classes?
At the moment, no I don't. I find with my involvement in our business, I don't have the time to do so. However, some day that could change, but for now, there are lots of great instructors out there & I would be happy to point you in the right direction if you're interested in learning.
What other components do you use in the jewelry?
Judy spends a lot of time searching for the best quality findings to compliment Carrie's beads. She incorporates a lot of sterling silver, semiprecious stones, Swarovski crystals, seed beads, antique charms & fresh water pearls.