"Lampwork" is the art of working glass in a torch to create something - in my case - beads. You can see a bit of the process by looking at my Glass Studio under the Studios tab.
Making beads is a bit like making a complicated meal - all the ingredients need to be available and ready BEFORE I start the bead. I run through the list of basic items - propane, dipped and dried mandrels (the metal rods coated with clay), the colored rods for the pieces I have in mind (most of them anyway - I usually change my mind once I start and I have to pull a few more rods out), and the components. Components include murrini - glass that I melt and stripe onto other glass then pull thin and cut into small pieces with tile nippers, twisties - multi-colored stripes of glass twisted together and pulled thin, and special striped cane - striped glass that is not twisted, but pulled thin for making vines and tree branches. There are many different canes of pulled glass that I create depending on the effect I want to achieve, and they must all be ready before I start the bead. Making components is usually a full hour at the beginning of my torch session.
I make large focal beads and smaller beads to use with the focals. I make smaller versions of the focals if I am making bracelets or earrings, and I must plan for that during the same session so the beads will match.
When the beads are finished, they remain in the kiln to anneal properly to make the glass as strong as possible. Then they are cooled, cleaned and made into jewelry.
I use most of my Lampwork beads for jewelry, but often have what we lampworkers refer to as "orphans". These are individual beads, or sometimes a set of beads that were extra or didn't match well enough to be in the actual piece for which they were intended. Sometimes I want to test colors, so I make individual "test " beads and many of them are not what I had in mind, so they too are orphans. These beads will be available from time to time as individuals or sets.
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