Emiko Tanoue

Emiko Tanoue
Glass Art / Glass Beads
The transparency and translucence of glass has always fascinated Ms. Tanoue, ever since she was a child. She began to study artistic techniques with glass after graduating from university, while she was working as a speech language pathologist (SLP). Her primary focus is lampworking (mainly glass beads* making), which she has now been doing for 30 years. She is well-known amongst glass bead artists in Japan and has won a number of prizes. Also, her work has been showcased in the book, 1000 Glass Beads (Lark Books, 2004).
*Lampwork beads were first made in ancient Egypt and introduced to Japan around 1700 years ago. Glass bead products gained in popularity during the Edo period (1603-1867), under the influence, in particular, of the Dutch. These products were especially popular amongst the wealthy classes.
Brief Personal History
1985Started working with glass
1979Started working as Speech Language Pathologist
1978 Graduated from Ritsumeikan University, Japan (Psychology)
1955Born in Kobe, Japan
2014The 53rd Japan Crafts Exhibition
2002Japan Contemporary Glass Art Exhibition, Notojima
2004Glass Craft Triennial Department/Itami International Craft Exhibition (Grand Prix)
2001Glass Craft Trienniale (Tazaki Pearl Prize)
2000Osaka Craft Exhibition (President’s Prize)


Her creations are varied, although her most recent works utilize gold leaf. This is popular in Japanese Kogei arts and crafts, but is not so commonly used with glass beads. We have selected some examples which use classic Japanese patterns and the classic colors typically found in traditional Japanese clothing. These will add a bit of spice to your personal style!
Production Process
Techniques for decorating glass beads – “infinite creativity”
Glass beads are initially made from a glass rod. The rod is melted with a burner, and the molten glass is wound onto a steel stick that is coated with a special release agent. There are a variety of techniques used, but typical techniques include making flower patterns with colored glass attached to the beads, or patterns etched onto the surface of the glass with steel wire. Glass artists have a variety of techniques and colors available which they use to express their own style and creativity, thereby producing something that will appeal to people all around the world.
Fusion of golden leaf and glass
Ms. Tanoue’s products present the Japanese traditional color, with the sophisticated sheen of gold leaf blended onto a small piece of glass. When gold leaf comes into contact with hot glass, it reacts to the heat and naturally cracks and wrinkles. This natural process ensures that each of Ms. Tanaue’s products is unique and special. The surface of her glass beads is designed with beautiful golden lines by sandblasting. These motifs are Japanese traditional check and stripe pattern and she arranges them to fit each glass beads. Japanese traditional patterns are simple, versatile and impressive, so you may look familar to some of which. We would love to hear your feedback on your thoughts and feelings about these patterns!
Note: Glass beads are truly unique. No item is the same as another, even though the techniques and materials used are the same. Thanks for your understanding.
Gold leaf can be stretched as thin as 0.0001mm. Ms. Tanoue carefully selects which segment of gold leaf she will use, since each leaf has its own thickness and shade of color.
After attaching the gold leaf to glass bead, she cools it. Then she covers the surface with masking tape to protect the gold from the sandblast. After sandblasting, she removes the covering, leaving a glass bead with beautiful gold lines inlaid.
Sandblasting is a method for removing some of the glass’ surface, while still retaining its clearness. This property of remaining clear even after sandblasting is peculiar to glass alone.

All items are made-to-order.

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