Designer Spotlight: Lyn Foley

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Brief story of what you do and why you do it:

Lampworking is the technique of melting glass in the flame of a torch to make beads or other glass objects.

I make 15 to 30 lampwork glass beads a day. After winding and melting rods of glass into the beads, I put the completed bead into a kiln for a controlled overnight annealing process. They next day I clean the cooled beads, and combine them with gemstones, metal and other components into unique jewelry.

I love the exciting process of making glass beads. I believe I make each item of jewelry for a specific person – all we have to do is find each other! When people smile when seeing my jewelry and light up when wearing it, I know that my intention to express love and spread joy you can wear has succeeded.

How did you get into jewelry design?

I was born an artist, and majored in art in college. I couldn’t seem to settle on a specific medium, and flitted from pottery, metal work, ink drawings, watercolors, weavings, to crocheted clothing, fiber works to jewelry. I met Jim Foley, a master goldsmith, and my life shifted. We collaborated, and for 38 years have been designing and making jewelry together – and running several jewelry businesses. Jim, however, has battled Parkinson’s disease since 1990 and recent struggles with the disease symptoms limit his ability to wield a torch. I am now the primary jewelry maker, focusing my talents on a love of glass I discovered in 2003.

What makes your collection unique?

As a glass artist I create all of the significant beads in my jewelry, which makes it unique. My three main jewelry collections are Bubbles, Unearthed, and Flowers and Seed Pods. The Bubble Necklaces are hollow, light, have a big presence, and make a big statement. Since the beads are hollow, the pieces are very lightweight and easy to wear.

Beads in the Unearthed Series look like archaeological finds, with crusty, uneven, bumpy, and aged-looking glass surfaces. My treatment of the glass imparts a timeless feeling to the beads, gives the jewelry collection a connection to the past, yet at the same time keeps it modern and classy.

Flowers and Seed Pods is the third series. These pieces often incorporate pearls and semi-precious gemstones as a backdrop for the glass flowers, leaves, imaginary pods and tendrils. Jewelry in this grouping is sometimes playful, with bright colors and high contrasts in the glass, (such as Carnival Flowers) or other times is elegant and sophisticated (such as Wedding Necklace).

The colors of glass I use, my unique sense of color, and my one of a kind designs, give my jewelry a distinct, vibrant look, one that makes people say, “I love your necklace, you look so good in it! Where did you get it?”

What are your inspirations?

I am inspired by color. I follow Pantone (a color system forecaster) colors of the year, and design several necklaces each season inspired by the annual forecast. I love visiting museums, both in person and on-line, often using paintings for inspiration. Customers inspire me, and Denise, a regular collector, often gives me brilliant ideas. So many things peak my interest and spark design ideas that I keep spiral bound sketchpad within easy reach -love my color markers and watercolors pencils for capturing ideas!

How are you making a difference in your life?

When Jim was diagnosed with Parkinson’s we sold everything and sailed around the world. (Learn more at by reading the book I wrote: Go Anyway: Sailing Around the World with Parkinson’s.) That we-can-do-it anyway attitude has inspired hundreds of people.

Lyn Foley – Artistry in Glass Jewelry contributes jewelry to fund raisers for non-profits in Texas each year, such as the Texas Women’s League, The Round Top Family Library, Festival Hill Institute, Artists Changing Tomorrow (ACT), and Arts for Rural Texas (ARTS). (To learn more about bidding on future auction items, sign up for my newsletters. 100% of your purchase price goes to the non-profit)

What is your biggest struggle in running your jewelry business – or your biggest success?

When we returned to land and to a full-time jewelry business after 12 years of life at sea, I was not accepted into an art show because I didn’t make the beads or components. I could have easily shrugged and walked away. Instead I learned how to make glass beads, and in the process discovered exactly what I am meant to do in life. It was a bit of a struggle and simultaneously a success to start over with a new medium at age 58, and to learn the ins and outs of the internet at the same time. (Website construction is not my best suit). I am proud, at 67 years old, to be labeled by some as the inspiring “Come Back Kid.” A quote from famed dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov sums up my philosophy: “The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure.”

More about Lyn

Glass artist Lyn Foley designs unusual jewelry using lampworked glass beads. From inspiration to creation, each bead is handmade, each piece of jewelry is unique.