How its done, Lampworking:
Lampwork is the name of the glass working technique which preceded blown glass. Before the invention of technologies that allowed for the melting of large amounts of glass all at once, very hot lamps were used to melt small amounts of glass. The art form that this gave birth to was the glass bead and they were treasured and valued to an extent its hard to imagine today.
The time it took to make a glass bead back then was lengthy, as the temperatures reached were only just hot enough to do the job. Today I work with a torch that puts out a flame thats up over 3,000 degrees. Its mounted to my work bench so I have both hands free. I melt the end of a glass rod (I use an Italian glass called Moretti which comes in a wonderful array of traditional colors) in the flame from the torch and it becomes molten, and the consistency of thick molasses. I wind this around a steel rod with a clay slip on it to keep the glass from adhering to the metal. This first wrap creates the hole and the core of the bead. I then build the bead up in layers, using different techniques to create the different designs. When done I allow the bead to cool down to 1,000 degrees so it is fully hard and then place it in a kiln, where it will slowly cool to room temperature over night. When it comes out of the kiln the next morning I twist the bead and the clay slip crumbles, allowing the bead to slide off of the steel rod. I grind the residual clay out of the hole with a diamond burr, rinse with water and it is ready to be worn!
Materials used in my work: Moretti Glass, Propane & Oxygen, Sterling Silver, Glass Seed Beads, Crystal, Pearls & Gem Stones, 49 Strand Steel Cable Beading Wire, Waxed Linen, Cotton & Silk Threads.