What is Flameworking?

Louise at the torch
Lampworking or flameworking is an ancient process of creating glass beads by winding molten glass around a metallic rod, similar to the way thread is wound around a spool. I use both soft and hard glass. The soft glass is a soda lime glass which comes in many different colors.  And I also mix my own special formulas. The hard glass is the same glass used to make scientific glassware. I use an oxygen propane torch to melt the glass. I start to heat the rod of glass and at the same time heat the metal rod or mandrel. The glass begins to soften and forms a gather. I then touch the gather to the heated mandrel and wind the glass as I rotate the rod thereby making a glass bead on a mandrel. This basic bead then becomes the canvas for adding designs with more hot glass. When completed the bead needs to be annealed in a kiln to prevent the glass from cracking as it cools. Annealing is the process of controlled cooling of the bead over time. When the bead reaches room temperature I remove it from the mandrel, clean it. It is now ready to use. Sometimes a single bead will take several hours to make as I wind layer upon layer to get the shape and design I want. I consider my beads to be little pieces of glass art.