THE PROCESS

LAMPWORK

All of my beads are made using the lampworking method depicted here.  The torch is fueled by propane and oxygen, the rod of glass is melted onto a stainless steel mandrel, somewhat like a bicycle spoke but can be various shapes and sizes.  The mandrel is coated with bead release to prevent the glass from sticking to the hot metal.   

In this video you can see the technique used to create hollow beads.  The hot glass is wrapped evenly around the tip of a stainless steel pipe.  The gather of glass is heated to red hot while constantly turning the pipe.  Once the rounded glass cools a bit, a controlled puff of air is used to inflate the glass into a bubble.  

 
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ANNEALING

The glass is placed into the kiln and annealed for at least a half hour or longer for large beads.  The annealing process allows the glass structure to stabilize to prevent cracking.  After garaging in the kiln, the temperature is controlled for a slow cooling to room temperature.  The whole kiln process takes from 3 to 4 hours.  The bead release is then removed and the bead can be used as a component for jewelry.