First Experience: Lampwork

My first taste of lampwork was certainly interesting. I wanted to be able to make beads and I got talking to a few US lampwork artists after a disaster in trying to use polymer clay. I met Martin Tuffnell at a local bead fair and he explained the hot head torch to me. It seemed like the perfect way to try it out, I did need to convince my husband though (let the lady have a flame thrower.)

The Starter Kit

Making Beads

  • Hot head torch
  • Bead release
  • Mandrels
  • 1 kilo mixed glass

I also needed to buy MAPP gas and some Vermiculite to slowly cool the beads, both bought from the hardware store.

What it was like

My first attempt and to be honest I was a little scared. I had to ignite the gas coming out from this torch. (note: we don’t have mains gas, I have never put a match near gas.) I asked my husband to supervise/help if I needed it.
It took a few attempts but I finally got the torch lit. I had at least had the foresight to have dipped the mandrels in the bead release earlier that day.

It was time to make a bead I grabbed a rather random rod of glass from the bundle and tried melting it, all the while glancing over at the written instructions that accompanied my kit.  The glass was melting, I had managed to get some of it on the mandrel (though as I noticed afterwards I had broken the bead release) There was a rather wonky lump of glass attached to a stick in my hand, I was doing it.

I was laughing, the feeling of making this first bead was one of the best feelings I have ever had related to a craft. I did as the instructions said and turned the mandrel slowly and use gravity to round out the shape, it became more rounded. This was it I had a bead and, at that time, it looked amazing. It was actually still slightly wonky but it didn’t matter, I had made it.

Is lampwork something you have ever wanted to have a go at?

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