How to Make Awesome Lampwork Beads
If you are involved in jewelry making, it may be very easy to find all of the supplies that you need, but if you are very deeply involved and wish to save on the cost of supplies, or even if you wish to feel the satisfaction that comes with accomplishment you may even wish to make your own lampwork beads. There may be scores of other reasons why you may wish to do your own lampworking. One of the reasons to make your own lampworks beads, is that you may not be able to find a special bead for a custome made item, so it may be a very good idea to learn how to make lampwork beads.
The process is not difficult, and you can begin with a few readily available items. You need to work in a well ventilated area, with cool water nearby. Be sure that you have a fire extinguisher on hand. In addition to the necessary tools, include protective clothing and safety glasses.
For the basic process, where you can practise, you will need a tungsten pick, a torch, precoated mandrels, and a kiln, which are all available at arts and craft stores. Before getting involved you will need to do some research and reading about lampwork beads to find out more.
When you are ready the first step is to fire up the torch, and slowly bring the glass which is usually supplied as rods in contact with the flame. The heat is applies to the glass until a blob is formed at the end of the rod. To keep the blob from falling off, you will need to keep turning the rod continually.
With a good sized blob, you can now heat the precoated mandrel, and deftly wrap the molten blob around the mandrel. You may need some practise at turning both the glass rod and the mandrel at the same time. The flame may be stationery, and you can move the rods around. While spinning the mandrel, you can form a doughnut shaped bead on the mandrel.
To continue making lampwork beads, you can add some decorations with pre-made stringers. The glass stringers should be heated very slowly, while keeping the bead warm to prevent cracking. Again some practise and dexterity is needed to keep heating two rod simultaneously.
Once you have applied the decoration to the bead in you desired pattern, the next and perhaps the most important step is the annealing process. The annealing is usually an automated process that can take as much as 4 hours if you are in a hurry or overnight if you are not. The kiln keep the lampwork beads at elevated temperatures until it solidifies, and slowly reduces the temperature, so that there is no stress that is applied to the beads as the glass expands and contracts when heated or cooled at quicker rates.