Glass beadmaking is an ancient art that has been practiced for more than 3,000 years. Until the latter part of the twentieth century, however, few Americans possessed the technical knowledge to make glass beads. Those few glass artists worked in virtual anonymity and isolation. They used a variety of techniques to create their beads, including lampwork, kiln forming, kiln casting, furnace work, and cold work techniques. The Society of Glass Beadmakers (SGB) was formed in 1993 by a small group of American beadmakers brought together by an exhibit of contemporary glass bead artists at The Bead Museum in Prescott, Arizona.

SGB's founders united to establish an organization dedicated to promoting the growth and recognition of glass beadmaking by facilitating communication and mentoring among members and educating the public about the process of beadmaking and the artistic value of glass beads.

A New Era of Glass Beadmaking: The Contemporary Glass Bead Movement

Glass beads have been used for adornment, trade, currency, and religious ritual in cultures all over the world. Yet throughout history, the art of making glass beads has been shrouded in secrecy. One of the primary goals of ISGB has been to foster the rebirth of ancient glass beadmaking traditions through the sharing of techniques and information among both members and the public. Interest in ISGB has grown rapidly. In the first five years, membership rose from 60 to 450. Members hail from all over the U.S., as well as several other nations, including Canada, Mexico, Australia, Switzerland, and Japan. Regional subgroups have sprung up to provide members the local support needed between annual conferences.

Today, members of a large network of glass beadmakers share techniques in an effort to promote their own work as well as the contemporary glass bead movement itself. Glass beadmaking classes are now taught all over the U.S. and abroad, how-to videos are available to the general public, and Society members gather for an annual national meeting at which they explore techniques, tools, design, and business issues. This new, collaborative approach to glass beadmaking has captured the interest of glass artists and collectors around the world.

To join ISGB, fill out and return the ISGB Membership application.