who is Maid of Glass?
I’m Tamsyn the designer maker behind Maid of Glass.
I’ve been creating lampwork glass beads since taking a weekend course in 2009. I’ve always loved the appearance of glass, its sculptural qualities and the way it interacts with light and that weekend was a real life changing moment, I was hooked from the very first wonky bead I made.
I had been making jewellery for some years before I got into lampwork so it was a natural progression to start incorporating my glass creations into my jewellery designs. I love the concept of wearable art and feel my lampwork is just that, each piece is created individually, mindfully layering colours, elements and details one at a time to create little works of art.
I create all my lampwork glass and silver earrings in my home studio in the picturesque county of Somerset, England, surrounded by nature in the beautiful countryside from which I draw much of my inspiration. I like to create designs that are a little bit different, full of colour and texture providing you with beautiful, handmade, enchanting jewellery to express your individuality and help you feel beautifully adorned.
I feel immensely blessed to be able to run my business full time and as a one woman band I get to wear many hats, designer, maker, photographer, marketing and dispatch to name a few, it’s work that I absolutely love and a lifestyle made possible by you, who values handmade, quality and the opportunity to own something created with love and care, touched by the hands of the person who brought it into existence. So thank you.
Nature has a way of captivating me with her intricate details and it’s one of my main sources of inspiration, which often becomes stylised in my designs imbuing its essence into my work.
How I make my lampwork glass earrings
It all starts with rods of coloured glass, steel sticks called mandrels and a really hot flame (around 750oC). Melting the glass rod in the flame, I wind the molten glass round the mandrel, and while molten; the glass can be shaped using various tools or just gravity. I like to add lots of texture and detail to my work using frit (glass smashed into tiny bits like sea salt), stringer (skinny strands of glass), murrini (little slices from a rod of glass with a pattern running through it like a stick of rock), etc. I make all of these elements myself; each one is added and melted in or shaped one by one. Each lampwork bead or earring can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to make depending on the size and complexity. As soon as a piece is finished it goes into my digitally controlled kiln, where it is cooled very slowly over a period of hours, this is the crucial process of annealing, it removes stresses in the glass caused by all that manipulating, making them as strong and durable as possible. Once cooled I remove them from their mandrels, scrub the bead-release (clay-like stuff that stops the glass sticking to the metal) out of the bead hole and get them ready for their next step, being made in to finished earrings.
Why I choose the materials I do
I believe quality jewellery starts with quality materials. For all of my lampwork pieces I use high quality sodalime glass from Italy, which yields consistently high results.
Where possible I use Argentium sterling silver for my bails and earring fittings. I choose it due to several attributes that matter to me. Firstly it is more eco-friendly than sterling silver and I like to tread as lightly as I can on mother earth. Secondly many people who can’t wear 925 sterling due to skin sensitivities can wear Argentium without any reaction, and thirdly it is more durable and tarnish resistant than regular sterling silver.