Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lampwork Beads by Karen Leonardo

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I am always on the lookout for unique supplies to make earrings, and recently purchased several sets of lampwork bead pairs from Karen Leonardo. Karen is an accomplished lampwork beadmaker and jewelry designer. Sprinkled throughout this blog are several pairs of earrings that I made with her amazing lampwork beads.
Karen Leonardo from Leonardo Lampwork
 Karen has been very busy since 1996 when she began her lampwork beadmaking journey.  Here are some of her accomplishments:
  • She is also the feature artist writer for an online beadmakers magazine called Soda Lime Times, where she writes various articles and edits jewelry tutorials.
  • She is the former regional director of the Mid-Atlantic States for the International Society of Glass Beadmakers.
  • She has received honors in both the art and business world, with many nominations and awards, including Pennsylvania Artist of the Year and International Who’s Who of Business Women and Entrepreneurs. 
  • Her beads and jewelry have been featured in many books and magazines, she teaches lampwork classes and is a consultant on lampwork and business issues.
Amazing Lampwork Beaded Necklace by Karen Leonardo
Karen started making beads in 1996 when her youngest son went to kindergarten. She saw beads being made at an art show in 1992 and was truly amazed. As a kid, she thought all glass was made in a factory until she saw glass ships being made at Walt Disney World. Her dad bought her a set of 2 swans and her interest in glass began.
Earrings made from Karen Leonardo's lampwork beads and Swarovski crystals
Jewelry though was Karen’s first love as a young girl. Her grandmother had an endless collection of jewelry and she couldn’t wait to stay at her house to go through the endless drawers of trinkets. When she realized people actually made lampwork beads, she delved into everything she could find on the subject, which wasn’t much in the mid 1990’s. She bought one of the only books on the subject by Cindy Jenkins to learn how to make beads, studied it for a couple of years and once her son went to kindergarten, she worked half days learning to make beads.
Earrings made from Karen Leonardo's lampwork beads and Swarovski crystals
Karen and her husband sold beads on eBay for about 10 years as “JustLeonardo,” but in the mid 2000’s eBay changed their policies and allowed imported beads into the lampwork category. At that point she had been featured in 4 books, and the author of the books suggested she send in a book  proposal to the publisher.  Her first book, Creating Lampwork beads for Jewelry was published in 2007 and two years after that came Art Bead Jewelry: Seasons in Glass.
Earrings made from Karen Leonardo's lampwork beads and Swarovski crystals
Karen has always loved sculpted flowers and needed a way to make the perfect petal. Her neighbor made the first prototype and 2006 she introduced the Leonardo Petal Pullers, which easily pull petals from glass rods to be used in the sculpted glass flowers. She also created Leonardo Petal Pressers to allow for sculpting of petals directly on the bead. Next came the Leonardo Featherbone (shown it the photo below) and Fishbone tools that create feathers and leaves. There are also Leonardo Imprinters to stamp designs on the surface of the beads, and she makes custom logo tools upon request.
Leonardo Fine Featherbone Tool
These days, Karen is focused on running her successful business, including selling her beads to jewelry designers and collectors online and at shows, as well as, selling her tools for beadmakers.  You can see her beads, jewelry, books, tutorials and tools on her website, www.leonardolampwork.com. She can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LeonardoLampwork and https://www.facebook.com/karen.j.leonardo.
Earrings made from Karen Leonardo's lampwork beads and Swarovski crystals
If you’d like to meet Karen, she will be at the Innovative Bead Expo in Clarksville MD on March 8-9, 2014.  I’ll see you there, as I will be stocking up on more beads to make earrings.
Earrings made from Karen Leonardo's lampwork beads and Swarovski crystals


Annie Peters said...

Thanks for introducing me to Karen Leonardo. Her work is incredible. I'm loving the earrings you've made that combine lampwork beads and Swarovski crystals. Pure elegance.