About Making Lampwork Beads

I design jewelry with my handcrafted glass lampwork beads. To make a glass bead, I use the ancient art of lampworking. Today, it is also called flameworking. 

This is my work bench area..Torch, tools, glass ..

Lampworking differs from glassblowing in that glassblowing utilizes a blowpipe to inflate a glass blob known as a gather, thereby inflating it by blowing air into the blowpipe. Lampworking manipulates glass with gravity and tools.

                            

 Rods of glass are sold in a wide selection of colors. 

I use soft glass 104 coe. (Coefficient of Expansion)
Knowing how the colors react to heat takes practice. 



Glass rods neatly organized


  I'm open to whatever glass I can experiment with. I've worked with
German Lauscha, Italian Effetre Moretti, Vetrofond and Creation is Messy.








Here I am heating a rod of glass in the torch flame onto a steel rod called a mandrel.


The glass is heated and "wound" onto the steel rod. It is shaped with gravity and tools.




 Each glass bead is individually handcrafted one at a time. They take patience and skill. This is why handcrafted glass beads are more costly than mass produced. A lampwork artist puts thought, love and pride in their work.




I use both hands to start the process. One to hold the glass rod and the other to hold the steel mandrel. Constantly rotating both the rod and the mandrel balances the molten glass. It's kind of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. 

Knowing the set-up of equipment and the rules of safety is always important to any glass artist.


This is my digital controlled kiln.

The beads are placed in my heated kiln which is digitally programed for a sequence of high temperature settings according to the glass size. It's also set to ramp down slowly to cool down. This annealing process ensures strength and durability. 

It's called The Chilli Pepper

When the beads are cool, the final step is to clean the bead release from the hole. Using a drill with a diamond bit, I carefully clean each bead and inspect them for imperfections. 

      Photographing my work is as challenging as creating it. To capture the beauty of a piece of art is a skill in itself. 
I'm finding I enjoy using the morning natural light compared to indoor fluorescent. 
It's another trial and error step for me which took me years to figure out. 

I get my inspiration from my gardens of flowers, love of photography and fashion style.

Please feel free to email with with comments or questions. Thank you.







2 comments:

  1. I'd love to get into making my own beads, and it always looks so easy. How easy is it really?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Whitney,
      With patience and a lot of practice, it's easy !
      I recommend taking a beginner class to learn the basics and safety rules. Then you can see how you like it because once you start it's addicting. Keep in touch ~
      April

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