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Lampwork beads are handcrafted beads made using thin glass rods.

These are heated by the craftsman over a torch, and the melted glass is then wrapped around a thin metal rod called a mandrel, which is coated with a substance called bead release. This is basically a mud slurry formulated from earth and chemicals to prevent the hot glass from permanately sticking to the metal mandrel. Whatever size your mandrel is will be what the ultimate size hole your bead will have.

Back to the melted glass rod, the craftsman carefully applies more glass by twisting the mandrel and wrapping hot semi-liquid glass around and around, until the amount of glass is on that he/she wants for the bead. Then, the glass is melted over the very hot torch flame until it is molten, and the bead shape sets in. The mandrel must be kept spinning at all times in an even rythm, or the bead will be lopsided from the glass oozing toward the stopped side!

Once the bead form is made, the craftsman then applies decorations i the form of more glass, silver, frits, or other goodies that will safely work with the glass, and these are carefully heated and applied to make the decorations.

Once the bead is completed, the craftsman puts the bead aside to cool very slowly in a kiln. The kiln is a very hot oven especially designed to withstand extremely hot temperatures. It takes several hours for the beads to slowly cool, and once they are, they get removed from their mandrls, cleaned, and are now reaady to be made into jewelry!

You can also see the process firsthand in video form at my Video File!