Now available: Beads from Jablonec

Now available: Beads from Jablonec

After many trips to Jablonec Nad Nisou over the last few years, I have finally finished my book ‘Beads from Jablonec’. It describes the history of beadmaking in the Czech town Jablonec Nad Nisou from the start, centuries ago, to present day.

I call it ‘ a history in beads’, as the history of the town and it’s inhabitants is so closely linked to the industry of beads, glass and jewelry in the region. Important historical moments, such as the end of WWII or the fall of the communist regime are mirrored by changes in the bead industry.

The book is available for a free download in PDF here: Beads from Jablonec.  Please note: it is a large file, 37 MB. Download may take a while.
Please feel free to share this book, so many people can learn of the history of beadmaking in Jablonec.

The book is also available in print from the online publisher Blurb. You can fink a link to my book here.


New book: Beads from Tucson

Sooner or later, every bead collector, jewelry maker or rock enthousiast will hear about Tucson. Each year, the world meets in Tucson for beads, stones and jewelry at an amazing set of events: The Tucson Gem Shows. Over 40 shows are set up late january/early february and they are all different. You can visit a fancy show with high end jewelry and diamonds, a parking lot filled with stalls selling huge fossils and rocks in barrels and an African village, all in the same day.

When I visited the show early 2012, I wanted to learn more about not only the shows, but also the people that make up the Tucson experience. What does it mean to sell and buy at this show? How has it changed over the years? What is good advice for first time visitors? All of this and more can be found in my new book: Beads from Tucson. It is available in print from the publisher Blurb.

Order your book here

I have learned so much from people willing to share their experiences with the Tucson shows and beads in general, that I want the information in this book to be available to as many people as possible. That is why the book is also available for downloading (in a compressed image format) for free. Please note, downloading may take a while as it is a large file size.
Edit: I have also added the full pdf version, which is 33 mb, and has good quality images.

You can download Beads from Tucson here in compressed pdf format (12 mb)

You can download Beads from Tucson here in large pdf format (33 mb)
Please comment, share the book, and let me know what your Tucson experiences are!

Beads from Briare: now available

My first book on the production of Prosser beads from the French village of Briare is now available on It can be bought as a paper book, or an ebook.

Below you can find part of the introduction of the book, and some of the pictures featured in the book.


Beads are good at telling stories. Stories of people, craftsmen, trade and fashion. The beads from Briare in France tell the story of the industrial revolution, global trade and an entrepeneur from France. Industrial advancement in Europe changed the way we work, cook, travel, and the way we make beads.
In this book you can find the story of how beads suddenly were produced so much quicker, so much cheaper, and on a completely new scale. It is the story of a bead revolution from France.

The book starts off with a general description of trade beads and the production of glass beads in chapters 1 and 2. Chapter 3 shows how Prosser beads are made. In chapters 4 and 5 the focus is on the Bapterosses factory in Briare and the beads that were manufactured there, including the dumpsite of tiles, buttons and beads in Briare. Chapter 6 deals with the competition between different beadmakers in Europe. The final conclusion on the role of beadmaking in Briare in the worldwide trade and production of beads makes up the last chapter.

Beadmaking in Jablonec

There are several techniques for making glass beads. Generally, beads are either wound, blown, drawn of molded. On my trip to Jablonec I mostly looked into molded beads. They show a great variety in colours and shapes and are very attractive. The technique of molding beads is more than 200 years old, and has not changed that much since. In this post I will go into the basis technique.

It starts with large glass canes. These canes are made in the larger factories or workshops, and bought by the smaller pressing workshops. They cane be made from one solid colour, or have different colours for special effects. This picture shows some different left over pieces of cane. The full canes are generally about 4 feet long. They come in different widths.

There are two ways for molding the beads. One is manual molding, where the glass cane is heated and pushed into shape with big metal pliers or pinchers. Sometimes the pliers also pierce a hole into the bead, or this is done by a second person. In Jablonec I bought one of these old pliers that both shape and pierce a bead.

The second and now more common type of making molded beads is mechanical, and much quicker. Several glass canes are heated in a furnace and used one after another in a machine for molding. The end of the glass canes gets very hot and malleable, and beads can be molded. After a few inches of one cane is used, it is put back in the furnace and the beadmaker coninues with another hot cane. I saw this fascinating process in a small workshop in Jablonec.

The next picture shows the molded beads, still attached to each other, coming out at the other end of the machine. Unfortunately, the picture is not very good. Also added is a picture of the molds used in a machine like this.

After this molding, the bead is far from finished yet. The flash on the seam has to be removed. This can be done with a simple piece of equipment of two round blades cutting off the glass.

After this, sometimes the seam is ground down further, and the bead is tumble-polished and/or fire-polished.

The result? Wonderfully diverse beads in all the shapes you can imagine.

Below are some examples of bead sample cards form the museum in Jablonec.