Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Allison Johnson, 33, uses a glass rod to add a dash of color to a bead that she was creating as a holiday gift at Bliss Beads Studio in DeKalb on Saturday afternoon. Johnson, who received her Master of Fine Arts degree at Northern Illinois University in 2002, enjoys giving her work as gifts. "I'd rather make someone a piece of jewelry than something they can buy at a store," Johnson said.Allison Johnson designs and creates beautiful jewelry using flamework glass and metalsmithing techniques.  She has been making original jewelry  for over 20 years and has a Master of Fine Arts degree in the area of metalsmithing and jewelry design. She is also an art teacher and gives presentations about the art of Flamework Glass Bead Making for groups of all ages.  For more information e-mail allison@blissbeadstudio.com.

Flamework Glass Beadmaking is a 4000 year old art form of manipulating molten glass in the flame of a torch. The earliest examples of glass beads come from China and the Middle East. Italy has a rich tradition of glass bead making and historically glass beads have been  used all over Europe, Africa, and the Americas for trade.

Each bead is made one at a time utilizing various decorative techniques to achieve the designs.  Hot glass is layered and formed until the perfect shapes and effects are achieved. The beads are little works of art that are incorporated into finished jewelry pieces that include hand-metalsmithed components.