What are lampwork beads?
|Lampworking is a type of glasswork that uses a gas fueled torch to
melt rods and tubes of clear and colored glass. Once in a molten state,
the glass is formed by blowing and shaping with a variety of tools and
hand movements. It is also known as flameworking or torchworking, as the
modern practice no longer uses oil-fueled lamps. Although the art form
has been practiced since ancient times, it became widely practiced in
Murano, Italy in the 14th century. In the mid 19th century lampwork
technique was extended to the production of paperweights, primarily in
France, where it became a popular art form, still collected today.
Early lampworking was done in the flame of an oil lamp, with the artist
blowing air into the flame through a pipe. Most artists today use
torches that burn either propane or natural gas, or in some countries
butane, for the fuel gas, with either air or pure oxygen (which can be
produced by an oxygen concentrator or by bottled oxygen) as the
The term handmade glass bead literally means
just that: Each individual glass bead is made by hand, one-at-a-time,
using a length of steel rod onto which the bead is created. By and large
most beadmakers use the wound bead method to create beads. The term
refers to the process of applying molten glass in a fine thread and
winding it into place.
|Basic "Wound Bead" technique:
*Preparing the mandrel - The beadmaker
starts by dipping a mandrel, or wire (stainless steel welding wire, cut
into lengths) into a clay based substance (commonly referred to as "bead
release") and letting it dry.
*Heating rod and mandrel - The flameworker selects rods of glass to heat
in the flame of the torch. When both glass and mandrel are sufficiently
warm, the beadmaker starts rotating the mandrel while allowing the glass
to wind upon it.
*Shaping the bead - Beads are shaped using a combination of heat,
gravity and tools such as graphite paddles, mashers, tweezers, and
picks. Presses to create shapes and indent patterns into the glass are
*Decorating the bead - Beads can be decorated by melting stringers, or
fibers of glass on the surface, creating dots or lines. With a sharp
pointed tool, feathers, hearts or other designs may be produced. Metal
decorations of copper, silver, gold, palladium and platinum are applied
as metal leaf, wire, mesh or fuming.
*Striking - If silver based colors are used (striking colors), the bead
must be heated for a few moments in the torch flame or kiln to allow
crystals to reform in the glass. This temperature is slightly above the
stress relief point.
*Annealing - Once completed, beads should be heated to 940º-1050°F
(depending on glass type), until the piece reaches its "stress relief
point", held at that temp for a short time, then slowly cooled to avoid
|Click the link below to view our
selection of handmade glass lampwork beads, each individually
created in our glass studio!
Our Own Handmade Glass Lampwork Beads
|Plus, we offer a variety of creative course
at Beaded Lily, including lampworking (glass bead making) and
beading / jewellery design classes. For details please visit our
Class Calendar page
on our studio website.