Lampworking is a type of glasswork that used a gas-fuelled torch to melt rods and tubes of clear and coloured glass. Once in a molten state, the glass is formed by blowing and shaping with tools and hand movements.
It is an ancient art that blossomed in Murano, Italy in the 1300’s and has been popular ever since.
Early lampworking was done in the flame of an oil lamp, with the artist blowing air into the flame through a pipe.
Most artists today use torches that either burn propane, natural gas, or butane with air or pure oxygen.
Lampworking can be done with many types of glass but the most common are soda-lime glass and borosilicate glass.
Tools for lampworking are similar to those used in glassblowing. Marvers – flat surfaces used to roll glass upon in order to shape,smooth or consolidate applied decoration.
Brass or graphite can be used to mold the hot glass.
Tungsten picks and be used to drag glass around on the surface, or to bore a hole through a piece.
Lampwork beads are handmade by skilled artisans who work molten glass around a wire or mandrel to shape, add colour and design components.
Since they are handmade, each bead is a unique work of art.
MAKING AND USING A STRINGER
Heating a glass rod to form a gather
Pinching the glass with tweezers and beginning to pull the glass into a long thin stringer
Using the stringer to create a pattern around the bead
The bead used in a piece of jewellery
MAKING A DECORATED BEAD
Winding a bead onto the mandrel
Gradually building up the bead
Shaping in the flame
Adding dots of glass around the bead to form the pattern
Melting the dots down
Cooling the bead slightly
Poking holes into the glass and filling with transparent glass
Re-shaping the bead
Firing the bead in the kiln
Decorated bead in a piece of jewellery