Interview with Ikuyo Yamanaka – Ikuyoglassart

Each artist comes to the table with new and innovative techniques and styles! It is in this blog that the featured artist can share whatever is in the heart and dreams.

We are excited to feature Ikuyo Yamanaka this month.

Q: How long have you worked in glass (or have you graduated from another medium and fallen in love with glass)

A: I have been working glass for more than 40 years. I’ve always had a dream of making a living creating things with my hands. After finishing high school and considering various other mediums like pottery, textile, dyeing, and silverwork, I was still undecided. Then one day, I visited a community art class and saw people making glass beads. I was immediately interested, tried it myself, and was hooked on working with glass. That was in 1975.

Besides making beads, I have also experimented with other glass techniques — glass blowing, stain glass, glass fusing, pate-de-verre, lampworking with Borosilicate glass, etc. — in search of the technique which was best suited for me.

I enjoyed all of these but fell in love with lampworking. After all these years I still feel that lampworking allows for an intimate relationship with the glass right there in front of me, in my own studio, by myself. Back then there were no glass art schools in Japan, so with a group of friends that I had met at the community classes, we explored and exchanged various techniques on how to work glass. This was my main source of knowledge. To this day after all these years, we still meet when I visit Japan and talk about glass…

When I started working glass it was with making beads. I wanted to make jewelry with my beads, so I learned how to work silver for a few years. In Japan, I participated in various group and solo exhibitions .

Q: Inspiration & Visual Voice: What or who inspires you? Express why you create your designs .

A: In my head, I’m always in the creative process. I make beads daily, and whenever I’m crafting one, I’m already thinking about the design and patterns for my next creation.

Many of my ideas come from the beauty of nature around me — my flower murrini, for example. I also surf the Internet to find examples of works in various art mediums such as glasswork, visual art, and textiles, and I apply these ideas to my own work.

Q: Upcoming shows or sales if you want to share

A: I sell my beads on

Over the years, I have put together several tutorials of the different techniques I use. Tutorials that show how to make & apply various kinds of murrini like 3-D flower murrini (cherry blossom, poppies, single and double petal flowers), sunflower, snowflakes and feathers. Others that show how to make implosion beads and background designs.

These can be found in my Etsy shop.

Q: What is in your artistic future?

A: I see myself continuing to make beads and develop my art as glass still offers me limitless possibilities for creating. I want to continue making beads for as long as I live. I love lampworking!

  • interview by Leslie Israelson