Shannon Handel grew up on a llama farm in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia.  She had always been artistically inclined – she was just never able to find an art form that captured her attention and interest long enough to really get into it (though if a Bob Ross episode in on television, she can still be found to be completely engrossed in the happy little trees and the friendly little rocks).  Though her mother had a background in stained glass, Shannon was introduced to lampwork glass beads when a friend through Otter Llama 4-H started showing her creations to people.

Shannon was mesmerized.  Her interest in the art form grew day by day until the urge to create these unique pieces took her to Sunlight Art Glass in Surrey, where she got her beginner’s kit with a Hot Head torch and a small selection of glass.  From then on, it has been a love affair that has lasted ever since.  Shannon began working with glass to create handmade lampwork beads in 2001.  She has been setting things on fire from that day on (only to herself a few times and the carpet that one time…okay, twice).

The ‘why’ of how she got into bead making?  Her mother, Trudy, had made a number of stained glass creations before Shannon and her sister, Carly were in the picture.  Fast forward a number of years to when Shannon’s dear friend, Kathy, began making lampwork beads.  Shannon was fascinated by the whole process – from the glass rods themselves, to the fire, to the little things that could be added to the glass as it was molten, to the fire…was that mentioned already?

Lampwork bead making is a constantly changing medium – ‘new’ types of glass that can do weird and wonderful things  when the torch is set a certain way, or the glass is heated in a particular series of stages.  This was finally something that Shannon could stick with and would always be challenged by.

Shannon’s pieces are made with eye-catching colour combinations and extremely tactile textures.  People who wear her pieces often comment on how they find themselves touching their wearable art throughout the day.

Shannon has been fortunate during her time as a lampworker to have friends and family to support her creativity, always willing to give input on a particular piece, display a gift with pride, or help at local craft fairs.  Shannon now works on a Minor torch with an oxygen concentrator and propane.

Why are they called 'Birthday Beads?'  Because I made them on my birthday a few years ago and can't bear to part with them.  And for some reason, they make me think of the circus.

Why are they called ‘Birthday Beads?’ Because I made them on my birthday a few years ago and can’t bear to part with them. And for some reason, they make me think of the circus.

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