Making glass beads with Sarah Downton

Ref: S1D32359

Location: West Dean
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About this course

Learn the basics of making glass beads in the flame using a gas torch, coloured glass rods and simple decorative techniques.

Course Description

Learn the basics of making glass beads in the flame using a gas torch, coloured glass rods and simple decorative techniques to make a variety of plain and patterned beads. You will have an introduction to the processes and materials used and to safe working practice.

By the end of the day, you will have made at least two drops and up to eighteen beads, depending on bead size and individual speed of work, hand-eye co-ordination and your confidence with the techniques. You will have gained some confidence to make beads in the flame independently and have a basic appreciation of the process and design of lampworked glass beads, including the attributes of the perfect bead.

Learning is step-by-step with tutor demonstration, followed by student practice. You will be shown how to light and use the torch and heat the glass safely, then make drops that can be used to make pendants or earrings, and stringers that could be used to decorate your beads later.

You will be shown how to make your first plain glass bead and you can make several until you are more confident about the process. You will progress to simple decorative techniques using a choice of coloured glass and frit, and you will be able to experiment with several colours and combinations.

Tips will be discussed for making better beads, and a variety of books and the tutor's beads will be available to view for inspiration.


Timetable for one day courses

Students should arrive by 9am for registration.

Classes are from 9.15 - 5pm

Lunch is included.

Course Materials


  • All materials and fuel are included in the course fee, except jewellery findings.

What students need to bring

  • Please wear comfortable natural fibre clothing, e.g. cotton, or bring something cotton to cover clothes and arms. An apron or old cotton shirt can help protect against burning little holes in clothes.
  • Please bring something to tie or clip back long hair.
  • Reading glasses if you need them
  • Notebook or pad
  • Pen and pencil
  • Jam jar

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art and craft materials, including jewellery findings and wire
  • Available from tutor:
  • A small range of findings and wires

Additional information

Please note: finished work will be fired overnight and the final pieces will be held until they can be collected by you. Pieces from the last firing can be posted or can be collected later the following afternoon. Your work will be kept for collection for six months. If you wish to have your work posted it will be done by recorded delivery at your own risk. Please ensure that your contact details are up to date as we will post to the address that we have on our system. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no open toes or sandals).


Sarah Downton

Sarah started making glass beads in 2002 and teaching beadmaking in 2006. She sells at bead and art fairs, is a City and Guilds qualified teacher and four times judge of the British Bead Awards.
She is a member of the Surrey Guild of Craftsmen (where she sells her work), Glass Beadmakers UK and the International Society of Glass Beadmakers.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.