How I MAKE Glass Beads

All the Lampwork Glass Beads are made by me,

one-at-a-time in my home studio.
Each bead is a unique - a little piece of art.

What's involved ...

In a well ventilated room; with a sheet of steel as a work mat; a pair of didymium safety glasses; a gas torch; a mandrel with the end pre-dripped in bead release; a glass rod; a container of vermiculite; a fire extinguisher and cool water available for any burns; only then can I start to make a glass bead.
With my glasses on and the torch ignited, I slowly introduce the glass rod to the heat by passing it in and out of the flame. Gradually I am able to leave the glass rod in the flame for longer periods. Only when the tip starts to glow orange, it is warm enough to stay in the flame.

Once I have a pea-size blob of hot glass on the glass rod, with my other hand, I slowly heat up the stainless steel mandrel. Twisting each hand simultaneously is essential!

Keeping the mandrel level, I can now wrap the molten glass around the mandrel while slowly turning it, heating and adding more glass as required.
Using the flame to cut the string of glass away from the bead, I need to keep the mandrel turning to obtain a nice donut shape. Once happy with its size and shape, the bead is gradually removed from the flame. Depending of the size, clours and designs a bead can take anywhere from 5 minutes to and 45 minutes to create!
After the glow has gone, I can bury the bead in the vermiculate where it will slowly cool down in approx. 20 minutes. When cooled I now carefully remove each bead form its mandrel.

Next they are individually cleaned removing as much of the bead release as possible, then set aside. Once I have a batch of about 50 beads to this stage, I then place them in a kiln and anneal them.

Annealing is a process of stabilizing the molecules of the glass and make the beads durable.

The beads are slowly heated to 500 Celsius where they are kept at this temperature for at least 30 minutes, then allowed to cool slowly in the kiln - usually over night.
I hope you will enjoy my Beads as much as I do creating them.
So ... Jen-e-sais-quoi

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