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How I Make My Glass Beads

Did you ever stop to think how a bead is made? I never did, until I happened upon a lampworking class in progress many years ago and fell in love at first sight. 

 

Lampworking is a type of glasswork where a torch is used to melt glass rods to create beads. When this art form originated in the 5th Century BC, artisans actually worked at oil-fueled lamps, however, I work at a small torch that burns a combination of natural gas and oxygen.

 

To make a bead, I heat a glass rod, wind the molten glass onto a mandrel, and then use gravity, tools and presses to shape the glass. While my beads are still molten, I sometimes incorporate bits of silver foil, gold leaf or sprinklings of crushed glass called frit to add color, texture and luster. I place my beads in a kiln so they cool very slowly which increases their strength and durability. Once cool, I clean them to maximize their clarity and sparkle. Finally, when my beads are clean and ready, I begin the second part of my process: designing and assembling my jewelry. 

 

As you can see, it is a quite long journey from glass rod to finished product, and there is a lot of time, care and love that is involved in every step of the process. Thank you for taking a moment to learn about glass bead making. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me on my Contact page. I’d love to “talk shop” with you!