Peter Francis, Jr.
There are many ways to turn a bit of glass into a bead. Lamp-winding is familiar as the most common beadmaking method by contemporary beadmakers, but it is only one way of winding beads. Wound beads are made by wrapping hot glass around a non-glass (commonly iron) mandrel.
Drawing is responsible for the greatest number of beads. It accounts for all glass seed beads and many other types of beads as well.
There are other ways to make glass beads, as well. Over the last few centuries blown beads have become popular and their beadmaking centers have shifted.
A series of engravings and woodcuts shows how the Venetians made beads, and a watercolor depicts beadmaking in Bohemia. The most innovative beadmaking processes were developed in the Hellenistic world, found a home in Egypt and continued through the end of the Early Islamic period. Their story is being told here.
Glass beadmaking is not restricted to modern Venice and Bohemia. There were many glass beadmakers in the past and there are quite a few today. Two Indian industries produce the largest and smallest of regular commercial beads today. Japan, China and