Want to see more recent bead pics? Check out my Flickr gallery HERE .
THE USUAL QUESTIONS:
Hey, you can’t… NO! seriously, you MADE these?
Yes, yes I did. All by myself too.
It’s a method of working with hot glass called lampworking (or flameworking or glass beadmaking, etc.).
I have a small torch which jets a flame several inches in length. With this flame I melt coloured glass rods around thin stainless steel bars called mandrels. I keep adding different colours of glass and moving them around until I’m happy with the design.
Soooo, are you like… a glassblower?
No, since technically I don’t (literally) blow any of my beads. It is similar in that we both work with hot glass, however, glassblowers generally work in teams with much larger equipment to produce their pieces. Glass beadmakers can set up a studio in a tiny corner of their home since the art is on such a smaller scale.
Doesn’t the melting glass stick to the mandrel?
Normally, it would. To avoid that, I dip the mandrel in a type of clay called “bead release” which then acts as a separator. I remove the mandrel and wash the bead release out once the bead cools.
But how did you make the hole?
Do you ever make round beads?
Sometimes. But more often than not I feel a desperate need to squish, mold or otherwise savagely manipulate the glass until it suits the visions in my head. And those visions are rarely uniformly round.
Ok. Then are they beads or sculptures?
Well… for now I guess you could call them beads since they all have a hole to make them wearable. If/when I stop adding a hole, then feel free to call them sculptures. I won’t mind (I’d actually be flattered).
Did you paint on the designs?
No, they’re glass too. I draw on a design with glass stringers which are then either melted flat or left raised, it all depends on what I’m creating.
There is a technique that is considered “painting” for glass using liquid enamels (highly pigmented powdered glass) which are then permanently fired onto your piece. But I haven’t tried this yet.
As of right now though, no acrylic, oil or watercolour paints are used in my creations. Good thing too – they’d sure make a mess when they hit the flame!
They’re glass, just like the rest of the bead. Seriously. It’s a colour layering technique that creates the effect of the petals.
To be honest, I’m not really a floral type of gal. I only learned how to make flowers to keep the girlie-girl members of my family happy.
But isn’t glass supposed to be clear? Those opaque beads look like they’re ceramic.
I know what you mean, opaque glass does look and feel like fine porcelain. I had the same thought the first time I held an opaque bead handcrafted by a lampwork artist. I can assure you though, they’re all glass.
Who taught you to make beads?
I suppose I could say I taught myself, but that’s not entirely true. If not for the wonderful, online community of international lampworkers I would not be as far along as I am right now. These artists regularly encourage newbies, openly share their tips and techniques, post tutorials and share their glass and supplies with perfect strangers to advance the cause.
So while I haven’t taken any actual classes from an instructor (yet) but I’ve spent so much time on the lampwork forums I’m sure I’ve learned as much as most intermediate to advanced classes would cover. And of course: practice, practice, practice….
Sooo… do you sell your beads?
Of course! How else could i afford more glass? If you see a bead on this blog that you’d like and it’s not marked sold, then it’s probably available – just get in touch with me to purchase. If you’d prefer something specific, details are on my custom order page HERE.
Do you teach glassbeadmaking classes? I do, but not at the moment.
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