The Lampwork Process
Lampwork beads are made one at a time over a torch. The glass arrives at my studio in rods about the diameter of a pencil, although the actual diameter can vary. There is an amazing array of available colors, and they all have interesting properties, sometimes reacting with each other to produce additional effects. And there seem to be new colors available all the time. The newest on the scene are "silver reactive" colors which produce beads of great depth and variety, with rainbow, oil slick, iridescent and other fascinating effects.
The glass is melted onto a metal rod (mandrel) which has been prepared with a thin coating of "bead release" which allows the bead, when cool, to be removed. Conveniently, this also creates the hole in the bead. When still hot, but not molten, the beads are decorated with layers of additional colors of glass, sometimes with added silver, gold or palladium leaf, ground glass "frit," or fine silver wire. I draw with tiny "stringers" of glass, or twisted combinations of colored glass to achieve the effects I am looking for. Sometimes the beads are shaped simply with gravity, other times I use a press to create specific shapes such as squares, crystals or lentils. Each bead is annealed in a kiln to prevent cracking, and thoroughly cleaned. Some are etched for a matte finish.
The next step in my process is to combine the beads with silver or stone elements I have collected from various sources to create a jewelry setting that best showcases the beads. My style has evolved and changed as I continue to learn new techniques and gain experience.