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Close-up of a Lampworking station. The left hand holds and rotates the steel mandrel which is coated in a clay type mixture of bead release. The right hand holds the glass rod which when melted in the flame becomes soft and the glass is applied to the mandrel. The steel mandrel is what makes the hole for your bead and mandrels come in various sizes to accomodate many different applications. Once your basic bead has been made, Artisans may take smaller glass rods called "stringers" to apply the finer detailed decorations to the surface such as raised or flattened dots, squiggles, raised lines and such. Once the decoration is complete, the bead is taken out of the flame and placed into a kiln where it will "soak" for several hours in extremely high temperatures. This process which is called annealing and is a must-do final process, assures that stress is taken out of the glass assuring the owner a lifetime of joy to behold and removes the danger of breakage.
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Thank You for your interest in Lampworking!


FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, glass beads have fascinated people in cultures all over the world...

The earliest glass beads were reserved exclusively for royalty, and in medieval Europe, the techniques for working with glass were closely guarded within families. In America, glass beads were exchanged for furs, tobacco and sugar...In Africa, they were traded for slaves, ivory and gold. During the late 13th century, the Venetians went so far as to remove their entire glassmaking industry to the island of Murano, which effectively quarantined their artisans and secured the Venetian dominance of the technology.

Glass is no longer a precious commodity reserved only for the elite, although it does tend to make one feel regal when wearing it...

Glass used for beadmaking is typically sold in rods about 1/4 inch in diameter, although other sizes are also available. Glass rods come in a rainbow of opaque and transparent colors and filigrana rods have cores of opaque encased in clear glass. Dichroic glass, available in rods and narrow strips of sheet glass, has a thin, metallic-looking coating that shimmers when angled toward light.

The first step in making glass beads is to prepare one or more mandrels. Mandrels are stainless steel rods on which beads are constructed. Mandrels are available in various thicknesses,
and the size of the mandrel determines the size of your bead hole. In order to prevent the hot glass from permanently adhering to the metal, you must coat each mandrel with a compound called a bead separator.

The most important tool is a source of heat for melting glass. Many torch types are available and produce a variety of temperatures. An oxygen-propane torch produces a flame that is approximately 1700-1900 degrees farenheit hotter than the flame from a single-fuel torch. This hotter flame allows the glass to melt much quicker and is the method used by most lampworkers.

The glass rods are heated to a molten state with the torch and then wound onto the mandrels. The hot glass is then decorated using a variety of techniques. Some beads are decorated with dots, swirls, feathers, melted dots, twists, etc.

Once the bead has been formed, it is then put into a kiln to remove internal stresses and prevents fracture or breakage. Beads are kilned overnight and slowly cooled to preserve their beauty forever.


Please feel free to Message me if you should have questions on my craft and visit my DA page [link] to view samples of my work.


Proud Daily Deviation of August 12th, 2008



Ti :heart: :frog:


Photo courtesy of Glasshopper Studios, St. Louis Missouri [link] where I received my instruction.
mushroom-leader Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2008
Interesting. How does one get into that? i've always have wanted to try just never knew how to get into it.
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