Friday, May 21, 2010

What is "Lampwork"?.....

Some of my work contains my handmade lampwork beads. Lampworking (flameworking) is the art of melting and manipulating glass in a flame. The glass rods that are used are different types of glass ranging from “soft“ to “hard” glass. 

The glass is wound as it melts around a steel wire welding rod (called a mandrel) that has been coated with a clay based material called “bead release”. This prevents the glass from sticking to the metal rod. After laying down my initial layer of glass, I shape my bead by using gravity. At this point I can decorate the bead by rolling it in frit (crushed glass), adding dots of glass, or laying down strings of a different color glass.

When I have finished shaping and decorating my bead, I then place it into a kiln (small oven) that is turned on and set to the annealing temperature for the type of glass I was using.  The kiln slowly brings the temperature of the bead down so it does not crack.

When the bead is at room temperature, I remove it from the mandrel and clean the clay out of the inside of the hole. I usually break off the bead release first over a garbage can and then soak them in water. Once clean the beads are ready to use in my jewelry design. Lampwork beads are one-of-a-kind pieces of art.

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