One of my all-time favorite beads was a gift from my daughter after her return from Tokyo, Japan. It is in the style of ‘Tonbodama’, a Japanese lampwork bead. The name roughly translates to ‘dragonfly eyes’ in English. These gorgeous beads are made of Japanese Satake glass, which is very soft and has a low melting point – resulting in soft, subtle colors.
The best of these beads are individually handmade, so no two are exactly alike. They can be used as focal beads in bracelets, necklaces and earrings. See examples shown here, especially this lovely one (at right) from Shirley Zhu of ShirleyLampworkBeads on Etsy.
Shirley’s creation is luminous, with purple roses frozen under crystal encasement. The flowers themselves are made with murrini which are slices of glass cane. Such wonderful color and highly-detailed precision!
There was a renaissance of glass-making in the Nara period of Japan (710-94). Many temples had their own glass construction bureaus. Large stores of beads and glass fragments have been found from this time. Glasswork was common--and an indication of the quantity of glass is shown by a monument to the emporer Somu (d. 756) which contained thousands of glass beads and glass pieces.
Other beautiful examples we found while perusing the web can be found at AyakoGlassGarden –- work from Ayako Hattori of Nagoya City, Japan (see this informative article on Ayako’s work in the Beading Times and view her work at Akihiro’s Japaneseglass’s Gallery.
You can also check out Akihiro Ohkama's wellknown book on Japanese Beadmaking (Introduction to Japanese Beadmaking), and read more about Lampwork in general in these previous posts of ours.
Until Next Time,