Unique Artisan Crafted Jewelry

What is "lampwork"?


Lampworking is the process of melting glass in a flame. Seems simple when you put it like that. There is so much more to it. The bead artists that I admire and whose work I use in my designs, have spent years developing their talent. They use rods of glass the diameter of a pencil and melt the end in the flame until they have melted enough to start wrapping around a mandrel, a metal rod about the diameter of wire coat hanger wire. They work with gravity, constantly rolling this gather of molten glass to keep it nice and round. When they have achieved the size they want, they will begin to shape it, mold it and decorate it, all while maintaining a consistent heat throughout the molten glass. If this isn't done, fractures occur making it unsuitable and a waste.

When the bead is what the artist wants, it is ready to anneal. The best (and preferred) method for annealing is in a digitally controlled kiln at about 1000 degrees faranheit for about three hours. After that time, the heat is ramped down slowly to prevent stress fractures.

The reason I refer to the beads I use as "Artisan" crafted is because they are. There are many lampwork beads that are mass-produced, in poor conditions, and improperly annealed. While these are economically more cost effective. The quality is greatly diminished. Having seen the difference, and become enamoured with the art, I prefer to use artisan crafted beads.

Trio of beads made by Misty Darrington

I've even tried my hand at it. My torch is not the preferred minor-burner style that mixes oxygen and propane, rather a beginner model called a "hot-head" that is a special fitting for a can of Mapp gas. Still, I use a very nice kiln and hope to upgrade to a nicer torch one day and spend more time learning that art.