Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lampwork Basic Designs

Lampwork glass bead designs can range from the simple to the complex. So complex in fact that some artisans create mini paintings with there glass designs.  Today we are going to talk about the most basic lampwork glass bead design.  It is a simple solid color bead with color added to it.

The first step is to heat your rod (mandrel) and the bead release that is on it.  While at the same time heating a glass rod to melting point.  Then create your initial bead.  Creating the initial bead is the same principal we are going to talk about using to add the second color to the bead.

Adding a second color to an already started bead
Adding a second color to an already started bead.

This is what the first step at the torch with your second glass rod of color will look like.  The rod of glass is heating and at the same time keeping the initial bead hot and molten.


Shows the glass as it reaches its melting point.
Shows the glass as it reaches its melting point.
A close up, you can see the rod is just starting to reach melting point.  This is harder than it looks, because while you are holding the glass rod in one hand, the other hand is constantly turning the rod (mandrel) with the beads on it.   That rod (mandrel) is constantly moving until the created design is completed and the glass has cooled down and is no longer moving.  If you stop turning that rod or tip it, the glass slides and you have just lost all of your hard work.

Initial layer of glass, the first color.
Initial layer of glass, the first color.
Here is a glimpse of the final application of glass to the initial bead.  The glass rod is used until the bead is to the desired size and shape.  All the while the rod (mandrel) is being manually turned continuously while it is kept perfectly horizontal.

Second color being applied to the initial color
Second color being applied to the initial color
Using the same principle above, you take the second color and apply it directly to the initial bead.  This technique allows for a melded look to the completed beads.  Once done and cooled it is then ready to add to the kiln for firing.


As you have probably already gathered there are a lot of minute  details to the process that I have left out.  My goal in writing this series of blogs, was to introduce people to hand torched lampwork glass.

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