Considering both my art and my passion for outstanding quality, I felt these two simple yet powerful words sum up my lampwork beads perfectly.
I make handmade, one of a kind lampwork beads and artisan jewelry with my own lampwork beads, precious metals and semi-precious stones. As a "Self Representing Artist" (SRA), I create every bead from the finest Italian, German and American boutique glasses available. I also add .999 fine silver, 22K gold foil and even palladium leaf, which is a close cousin to platinum!
Did you know that glass gets many of its beautiful colors from metals and other elements? Some glasses (the high-end boutique variety) contain large amounts of silver or gold! Once melted, they can produce beautiful iridescence, mirrors and rainbow oil slick finishes.
I carefully melt glass in the flame of an extremely hot oxygen and propane torch. "Lampwork beads" got their name because thousands of years ago, lampwork artist melted glass in very hot lamps! However, making lampwork beads today has nothing to do with lamps at all- instead we use a very hot "burner" or torch. While molten, I wind the honey-like glass around a thin steel rod and watch the beauty take form.
Once created, each bead is immediately (yet gently) placed into my digitally controlled kiln to ensure strength and durability. The lampwork beads will cool ever so slowly, similar to a relaxing day at a 5 star spa... then finally they are bright, strong and lovely.
After annealing, I clean every lampwork bead hole with a diamond-laden dremmel bit to remove the harmful dust which remains from the bead release compound. It's true, a lot of love and care go into making my beads.
What is so important about annealing? Annealing makes the glass as strong as it can be. Anything made from glass is by nature delicate, but annealing strengthens the glass by helping it to align its molecules in the best order possible. When glass is molten, its molecules are moving around and it is difficult to get them back in line quickly. They need time. Letting a newly sculpted piece of glass cool very very slowly at proper temperatures is the best way to assure the glass is as strong as naturally possible. This doesn't mean you can take a glass bead and drop it onto a tile floor! Why test nature? However the difference is, if you DO drop a properly annealed bead on the floor there is a much much greater chance it will survive, while an unannealed bead will likely burst into many pieces.
In the last few years I've started making large hole beads also known as pandora, trollbeads, biagi, chamillia style lampwork beads that have a sterling silver core to slide easily over a "build your own" bracelet or necklace system. To finish my lampwork charm beads I hand cut and hand dap sterling silver bead caps and rivet them together with single core of sterling silver. Using raw materials ensures my lampwork beads will turn out exactly how I want them to look. The silver cores of every lampwork bead are size-tested on my own personal, authentic biagi, pandora and trollbeads brand bracelets. The sterling silver tubing I use is the perfect size to fit snugly over the threaded features of the pandora and biagi bracelets, without being too loose. Even if you do not have one of the popular charm bracelet systems these beads will easily slide over almost any standard chain or cord for immediate enjoyment. Because of this they are unique, wonderful artisan quality gifts!