Minori Takagi first came across Japanese glass beads (called Tombodama) at a local gallery in her hometown of Shizuoka, Japan in 1997. She was so impressed by their subtle color and delicate design that she immediately took her first bead-making class at a local studio. Using colorful Japanese glass rods (called Satake), she learned the basics of Tombodama. The lessons were only twice a month, but her skill and creativity soon became apparent. Her initial interest in making Tombodama has since developed into a life-long passion for the art form.
In addition to spending countless hours in the studio refining her craft, she has also participated in numerous workshops both in Japan and North America. Most memorable were the ISGB Gathering in Washington, D.C, The Best Bead Show in Tucson, Arizona and the International Lampwork Festival in Kobe, Japan. It was in Kobe where Minori had the opportunity to attend demonstrations by talented glass artists Loren Stump and Akihiro Ohkama. Each of these artists inspired her to try new glass techniques that she has now incorporated into her beadwork.
In early 2006, Minori moved from Japan to Canada’s scenic west coast. She now calls Vancouver, B.C. home and works out of her studio space on Granville Island. Working with Satake glass she continues to create her own unique style of gorgeous Tombodama beads.
Minori, like most Japanese beadmakers, uses Satake glass when making her beads. Satake is much softer than the soda-lime Moretti glass that most U.S. beadmakers use. Once heated using an air-propane torch, Satake will flow for a longer period of time allowing the artist to be more creative. Also, Satake has a higher refractive index and bends light further than soda-lime glass. This important difference gives the finished bead more sparkle and shimmer.
Tombodama beads, colorful glass beads featuring floral and other patterns, are popular accessories because each one is unique. The beads are made by rolling molten glass around a steel rod until a glass ball forms. Smaller pieces of colored molten glass are then placed onto the ball to form exquisite patterns.
It is believed Tombodama originated in Mesopotamia about 3500 years ago. In ancient times, they were made by craftsman for members of royal families and aristocrats and were regarded as precious accessories. The techniques used in making the beads were brought to Japan via the Silk Road during the Nara period (710 – 794). Today, Tombodama beads are much sought-after in Japan and are growing in popularity throughout North America as more and more people discover this beautiful art form.
Copyright © 2007 Minori Takagi
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