Original Handmade Lampwork Glass Beads and Jewelry by
Susan Matych-Hager





Susan Matych-Hager

usan Matych-Hager has always been interested in the visual arts, holding an earned academic minor in art. A glass bead course taken from Don Miller in Fall, 2003 at the Toledo Museum of Art was the beginning of her adventure in art glass bead-making, also known as lampwork, torchwork, or flamework. She has since taken workshops with such notable glass artists as Kristina Logan, Lydia Muell, Trey Cornett, Shane Fero, Kristen Frantzen Orr, JC Herrell, Margaret Zinser, Pamela Wolfersberger, Sara Sally LaGrand, Michael Barley, Amy Waldman-Smith, Hayley Tsang-Sather, and, most recently, Elena Hernburg and Bea Stoertz.


Matych-Hager is perhaps best known for her command of color in her glass bead designs and her elaborate competition pieces based on nature themes. Her work has been juried into the Lark Book Showcase 500 Series, including Beaded Jewelry, Necklaces and 1000 Beads. Her work has also been published in Bead and Button Magazine, The Flow (Women in Glass), Profitable Glass Quarterly, Ornament and Metal Clay Artist. Work selected for inclusion in the several prestigious International Society of Glass Beadmakers juried, traveling shows began with Metamorphosis: The Life Cycle of a Glass Bead in 1907. Her necklace, Yellow Poppies, was a finalist in Bead and Button Magazine’s Bead Dreams contest in 2011. Her elaborate constructed component necklace, Winter Dreams, featuring glass flowers, leaves, berries, branches and birds, was a finalist and second-place award winner in the lampwork category of the 2013 Bead Dreams international competition. Promise of Spring, another sculptural component necklace in The Seasons series, traveled with the 2014-2015 ISGB juried show.


The artist states, “I love the effect that occurs when one uses color to unify the myriad types of decoration available to the glass bead artist. I am fascinated by the rhythm and movement that can be created in an otherwise static form through the interplay of light striking the artist-created designs in glass. It excites me when glass is combined with other materials in jewelry such as crystals, metal and pearls to enhance the inherent beauty of the glass. I particularly enjoy the ability to work in a wide variety of styles of art glass beads and jewelry, exploring with great freedom all kinds of techniques and diversity of expression."


In the process of lampworking, the artist works in an oxygen-fuel torch where soda-lime glass is heated to its molten state. The molten glass is wound on to a metal rod, called a mandrel, which has been coated with a proprietary mixture similar to kiln wash. This mixture allows the bead to release from the mandrel when it is completed. The bead is then shaped using several techniques including heat, cooling and gravity, as well as pressing and stamping. Decoration is applied to the glass. When the bead is complete, it is placed into a digitally-controlled kiln to anneal (strengthen) so that it is less susceptible to stress cracking. After the bead has ramped down to room temperature as part of the annealing process, it is thoroughly cleaned with a diamond bit inserted into a battery operated bead reamer. The bead is then ready to be used in jewelry. Each bead is individually made. Although beads can be similar, no two beads are ever exactly alike.


The artist is a member of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers and GlassAct: Southeastern Michigan Glass Beadmakers Guild. Matych-Hager currently teaches glass bead making at the Adrian Center for the Arts, Adrian, Michigan, where she serves as the Director of Glass.


A professional musician, holding academic degrees in music, Matych-Hager is currently the founder and artistic director of CHIAROSCURO, a community men's chorus, founded in 2013. Prior to her journey as a glass bead maker and jewelry designer, she was awarded the rank of Professor Emerita of Music upon retirement from Siena Heights University, Adrian, Michigan in 2007, where she taught music courses, private voice lessons, directed choirs and served as Chairperson of the Music Department beginning in 1973. Before her appointment at Siena Heights University, she taught at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, and vocal music at all levels in both public and parochial schools in Michigan.