All lamp work glass and fine silver components are made by me, in my studio unless otherwise noted!
What is Lamp Work?
Lamp working is a type of glasswork where a torch or lamp is primarily used to melt the glass. Once in a molten state, the glass is formed by shaping with tools and hand movements. It is also known as flameworking or torchworking, as the modern practice no longer uses oil-fueled lamps. The molten glass is wound around a pre-treated stainless steel mandrel into the shape of choice. Other colors of glass are also melted to add decoration to the bead. There are many different options for decoration including the use of special glass ( dichroic, double helix) and enamels.
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 burn propane and oxygen.
Lampworking can be done with many types of glass, but the most common are soda-lime glass, sometimes called “soft glass,” and borosillicate glass, often called “hard glass.” I use Moretti glass which is a soda-lime glass. Soft glass does not do well with temperature change and must be cooled in a kiln at about 940 degrees to prevent cracking. Once the kiln ramps down to room temperature the mandrels can be removed from the kiln and the glass beads removed from the mandrels. Each bead must then be properly cleaned by hand.
Lamp working torch fired up and ready to work! Glass, enamels, pixi dust and other goodies!
What is Fine Silver?
Fine Silver is 99.9% Pure Silver. It is not an alloy such as Sterling Silver. To compare, Sterling Silver is 92.5% Silver, the rest consisting of metals such as Copper, Zinc and Nickel. These metals are added for strength. They also cause tarnishing and can affect metal allergies. Fine Silver is softer than Sterling but can be work hardened to increase strength and durability. After work hardening I use Liver of Sulfer to patina the Silver. The patina helps to emphasize the textures of the piece. Hand burnishing brings up the shine on raised surfaces and adds an extra touch of beauty. Fine Silver is easy to care for as it doesn’t tarnish and won’t cause allergic reactions to sensitive skin.
Lots and lots of supplies!
Where the magic happens!