Three women wearing safety glasses and wielding torches is not what you’d expect to find in the back of the otherwise dainty bead boutique La Perlerie. Until you see the small colourful glass creations at the end of the flame.
Since January, La Perlerie has been offering glass bead making classes.
“To make a glass bead you have to bring the glass to a molten state, or a honey-like consistency, and drip it over a stainless steel rod,” says Susan Nagy, owner of La Perlerie. “You need a torch. I have four torches. Each person gets a torch and it’s a three-hour course that teaches you how to make your own glass bead.”
The intimate group gets hands-on instruction from Nadia Tasci, a renowned flame-working artist.
“She’s Toronto-based and has been doing this for almost 10 years,” says Nagy. “She’s very well-known in the glass bead making industry, so it’s a privilege for us to have her here.”
Tasci talks her students through the intricate process of creating and decorating their own glass bead.
“Heat it up in certain spots. And now shape it. Manipulate it. Go for it,” she says, cheering them on.
“If you’re positive when you’re making something, you’re going to have better results,” says Tasci.
“I want (students) to have as much fun as possible and I want them to feel excited about it the way I’m excited about it.”
It’s working. “I have to say Nadia is fantastic,” says student Marnie Hillier. “It makes a difference because I’m not a natural at this. She’s very patient and she’s a good teacher.” Hillier, a loyal customer, first read about the course in emails La Perlerie sent out.
Although “complete novices can come in and take a course,” Nagy says, students of the bead making class are usually already into the craft. “People who are into jewelry making and design sometimes get a little tired of the standard materials like a round bead. Making your own bead is a very organic process and it really differentiates your piece,” she says.
Beyond glass bead making, La Perlerie offers classes on jewelry making techniques using semi-precious stones, wood beads or wire, which can accommodate up to 15 people. “The store is more focused on fashion and jewelry design. We work on making larger pieces that are more fashion oriented,” says Nagy. “More chunky, funky, bold pieces of jewelry.”