Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lampwork Beginings

Glass beads being created in the flame of the torch.
Creating glass beads in the flame of the torch.
Lampwork glass beads are a delight to create with.  When we started this venture we had no idea we would become so enamored with the hand torched lampwork glass to create our own. 

 It was one of those items we purchased from other artisans.  Well it turns out that has not met with our creative needs and are currently working our way up to creating our own pieces to incorporate into our designs.  


With any new technique there is a learning curve and lampwork is no different.  Not to mention that we have set high standards for any of the pieces that will be used in our final designs.  Which means that currently we have very few pieces with our own lampwork in them and will have that cross over for several months still.  That's ok, we know that with our self imposed requirements the  pieces will be extraordinary in the end.

So what is lampwork?  It is a technique in which you use a torch to melt glass rods and form the desired shape and look you want.  Once  that is complete they are then hardened by firing them in a kiln. In a previous blog we shared some of the history of lampwork, today we are going to cover some of the basics of getting started.

Rods of glass in progress of being used
Rods of glass in progress of being used
Glass, glass and more glass!!!

Ok, glass is essential and there are multiple types.  One of the things we have had to learn is which glass we prefer, which glass types can be combined and which can't.  We have learned and are still experimenting with the rod size and which works best for the technique we are currently working on. 

Adjusting the flame to achieve the look we want
Adjusting the flame.

Here, one of us is adjusting the flame on the torch.  It is not showing in the picture, however right there on the right hand side is the fire extinguisher.  While we haven't had an issue, we are ever vigilant and prepared.

Frit, glass, paddles and other assorted tools.
Frit, glass, paddles and other assorted tools.
On the left is a piece of graphite and a graphite paddle.  The graphite allows us to manipulate the glass outside of the flame without the glass adhering to the tool.  The glass rod holder holds cleaned glass ready to work with as well as rods to cool with completed creations we are not ready to place directly in the kiln.

Fire retardant furnace board and tools
Fire retardant furnace board and tools  
More of our work space set up.  In the bottom right hand corner our the prepped rods, ready to have creations added to them.  They are prepped with bead release that has to completely dry before being worked with.  Usually we prep these the night before.


As you can see from this brief glimpse there are a lot of tools, materials and time that goes into creating lampwork glass pieces.  We enjoy it and look forward to incorporating our own pieces into our designs.


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