Making Glass Beads: Lampwork

Just a short review of how glass beads are actually made.  They are time consuming to make but beautiful to have because they are all one of a kind!

First you have glass rods that we buy from a few major companies here in the U.S.  We can’t buy the glass personally in Murano, Italy as they only sell to major buyers.  There is transparent, opaque, filigrano, glass rods to name the major ones.  These come in different colors.

We melt the glass rod onto a mandrel, with a gas torch.  I use propane on Beaver Island and natural gas in Ann Arbor.  All the work with the glass is done with it molten hot.   When done forming into a creation, the mandrel with the glass is put into a kiln in order that the glass can anneal or harden.

Then–we are not completed yet–we have to clean the mandrel bead release from the holes of the bead, after getting the bead off the mandrel.  And sometimes the bead does not come off the mandrel if it did not have enough bead release on the mandrel.  That can be very frustrating!

Then you have your pile of beads to do something with — either sell the beads or make into jewelry or some other item.  It is a fun process and I love it!


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