Wednesday, May 6, 2009

About Lampwork Beads

For centuries glassmaking techniques were a carefully guarded secret. Fathers passed the craft of glassmaking to their sons, but rarely to anyone else. Before propane and oxygen torches, beads were made over small wick type lamps. That's where the term "lampwork" originated. The secretiveness of the past has given way to open sharing of ideas and new techniques. Traditional themes and styles have given way to unique new forms of expression and limitless experimentation. Lampworking is a skill that takes a great deal of practice and patience, the beads are as varied as the artists who create them. Glass rods about the thickness of a pencil are heated in the flame of a torch, the molten glass is wound around a steel rod called a mandrel. The space occupied by the mandrel becomes a hole through the bead. Each bead is created from the inside out. When the base bead has been formed, other colors of glass can be added to achieve different visual effects. The final step is a process called annealing; beads are placed in a high temperature digitally controlled kiln to cool slowly for many hours to ensure strength and longevity. Artist made lampwork beads are one of kind wearable works of art!

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