Glass-working in technique of lampworking

Far be it from us to describe here how to make glass figurines, beads, trinkets in technique of lampworking. We just want to give a general idea about process of glass working in technique of lampworking.

The art making of glass beads and glass figurines is one of the oldest methods of glass working. The art of glassworking was practiced by crafts in ancient Syria in 1 Century B.C. it became widely practiced in Murano, Italy in the 14th century.

There are some ways of forming of glass figurines, for instance, glass blowing, glass lampworking, The most popular glass for lampworking is soda-lime glass, which is available pre-colored. Crafters who practice glass blowing use a blowpipe in order to blow air into the molten glass and to form a bubble. This method of glassworking is used to produce things like vases and bottles, that is hollowed articles.

Glass figurines
Glass beads
Glass jewelry

To make things like glass figurines and glass beads crafters usually use way of glassworking which is called lampworking. Lampworking is a type of glasswork that uses a gas fueled torch to melt clear or colored glass rods. Glass in molten or to be correct in semi molten state is formed by shaping with tools and hand movements. This way of glassworking is also known as flameworking or torchworking.

In past lampworking was done in the flame of an oil lamp, with blowing air into the flame through a pipe. Most artists today use torches with propane or natural gas as fuel.

Lampworking can be done with many types of glass, but the most common are soda-lime glass, sometimes called "soft glass," and borosilicate glass, often called "hard glass." Usually lampworkers use rods of glass 7?8 mm in diameter. The most popular glass for lampworking is soda-lime glass, which is available pre-colored.

Lampworking is used to create artwork, including figurines, trinkets, curios, Christmas tree ornaments, beads and much more. There are many professional artists who are involved into fascinating process of making glass figurines and glass beads. Beside professional artist there ar many armatures who go in for lampworking. Many people take up this hobby because it is possible to build a workstation in your own home and create glass art. There are may art schools that offer classes of making glass beads and glass figurines. The schools provide developing basic skills and solid technical foundation so that students obtain the knowledge to set up a home studio.

What does the artist need to start work lampworking? First of all you need some space in your house (preferably a spare room) or even some space in a garage, the only condition is that the "studio" should be well ventilated. A ventilation system can be a vented hood system or a big box fan in a window. This is crucial for ensuring your health and well-being so do not overlook this requirement.

Then you need some equipment and materials to setup your little workshop. A torch is the most important thing. There are different types of torches. A Hot Head torch uses only fuel and does not need oxygen. For this reason it is a very inexpensive torch, around $35.00. A lot of beginners start with the Hothead torch to see if lampworking is something they will like. You can use the small disposable 1 pound cylinders of MAPP gas or propane that you can find at any hardware store.

Hot Head torch
Minor torch
Gas-oxygen torch

More experienced users use a torch with an oxygen source. It is perfect for working with soft glass. Although it is more expensive that simple Hot Head torch it may save on the cost of fuel if a crafter does much work in lampworking. [Picture /torch-minor.jpg, lampwork-torch.jpg, p5209466.jpg]. With a torch that needs both fuel (gas) and oxygen you will need an oxygen source. You can rent or buy an oxygen tank and regulators. Another popular option for oxygen is to purchase an oxygen generator from a glass supply vendor.

Additionally, you need a way to anneal (bring down the temperature and remove stresses) your finished glass. Use a kiln or vermiculite, available at garden centers, for this purpose. If you want to make beads or vessels, you will need mandrels. Mandrels are the stainless steel rods that come in all sizes, that are used in melting the glass around for your creations. For forming of your items you will need special tools made specifically for glass working. usually these are different tweezers type tools.

Beside the base equipment it is necessary to have special high quality glass, that is soft and malleable with a low melting point or hard glass like borosilicate glass. Soft glass expands much when heated and then contracts upon cooling. Borosilicate glass is flexible without any risk of shattering due to temperature change.

Lampworking - making glass figurines

The glass rod is heated in the flame of the torch until it gets very hot. When the glass rod is sufficiently warm and it is nearing its melting point. Now the heated part of glass rod is formed by different steel tools. Different colors are added to the figurine with some molten glass of other colors. In the end the ready figurine is cut with cutting jack and then is cooled.

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