Let me introduce you to some of the different types of glass and their manufactures that are commonly used in lampworking;
Borosilicate (33coe) – Borosilicate is a ‘hard glass’ it is also known as Pyrex, it has a high melting temperature and requires a dual fuel torch with a high flow of oxygen. Clear borosilicate is known for its clarity, though the colours are incomparable to any other glass in the soft glass range. Most of the borosilicate colours are natural shades but when placed in a light source the glass shows an amazing array of colours. There are many manufacturers of Borosilicate glass.
Simex produce clear glass and tubing more commonly used in scientific glass.
Northstar, Momka and Tag are the most commonly known coloured rod manufacturers.
Blowing Glass (90-96coe) – While some lampworkers do use this type of glass it is more common in glass blowing (furnace work) and for kiln worked glass. The colour pigment in this type of glass is stronger than 104 glass making it more suited for blowing and keeping it’s colour. It is because of this property though that lampworkers will use it as frit on their beads.
Gaffer and Reichenbach are common manufacturers of blowing glass
Soda Lime Glass (104 coe) – Soda lime glass is the most common glass for bead making. A wide variety of colours are available from a whole host of companies the most common of which are;
Creation is Messy (CiM) an American company that wanted to expand on the 104coe soft glass range and add more tone to the colour pallet. While the company is owned and run by an American family their production factory is in China.
Double Helix located in the Pacific Northwest, Double helix Glassworks are known for their highly reactive silver loaded glass. Compatible with all other 104coe glass but, dependant on what it is used with, produces many different types of reactions. Double Helix colours can be quite hard to get to work in their intended way and do produce a wide variety of colours when correctly worked.
Effetre an Italian brand of COE 104 glass, Effetre are the most commonly used brand of glass in lampworking. They supply a large range of standard colours as well as many special colours. Manufactured on the famous bead-making island of Murano. Effetre is also known as Morreti glass.
Reichenbach a German company producing 104coe and 96coe glass best know for Iris Orange (also known as Raku) their other reactive glasses such as magic, multi colour and their mystics range. Though their 104 range is a lot more limited than their range of 96coe glass.
Vetrofond another Italian brand of 104coe soft glass, their clear glass has been regarded the best clear for encasing. They also release their highly coveted odd lots (usually mixed batches of glass pulled into one rod, or colours that haven’t mixed properly and not resulted in the desired colour.)
Lauscha, Kulgar and Striking Colour are all other brands of soda lime glass.
Sometimes different brands with the same coe do produce compatibility issues, part of the artists job is to identify colours that don’t work together as well as those that do.