How to Make A Lampwork Glass Bead
Lampworking is usually done with an Air-Fuel torch (MAPP gas being the most popular fuel) or Oxygen-Propane torch and a few hand tools. The tricks and moves used to form and decorate the glass haven’t changed much in years.
Lampwork beads range from the simple to extremely complex such as lampwork beads in shapes, lampwork beads with silver lining, or gold foil. Modern lampwork beads have many purposes, for holiday celebrations, or to simulate nature, like bamboo, or even the jellyfish.
An artist makes these beads using a rod called a mandrel, sticks of glass and a torch. Let’s get to know the Process of Making a Lampwork Beads.
Melting Glass: Lampworking involves the process of melting glass in a hot flame on a steel mandrel. The molten glass is wound around the mandrel until the desired size and style are achieved. The flame used to melt the glass is produced by mixing gas, either natural or propane, and oxygen. Thus the flame produced is hot enough to melt glass. A torch is the primary tool for the flame.
Decorating Beads: After the initial shaping of the bead, it can be decorated by applying molten fibers (stringers) on the bead’s surface, creating dots or lines. Intricate patterns and designs can be made with the use of a sharp tool. Lampwork beads can also be sandblasted or faceted using conventional lapidary techniques.
Annealing Beads: When the design work is finished the bead needs to go through the annealing process where it is reheated to around 1000°F to reach the proper “stress relief” point. Annealing is the process of bringing down the temperature of the glass very slowly. Annealing makes a glass bead very strong and durable. When a bead is taken out of the kiln it is still on the steel mandrel. The cooled bead is soaked in water to soften the bead release agent. Once the bead is removed the holes are cleaned and filed.