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Lampwork Beads
Lampwork Beads
handmade glass beads

    So you want to know exactly what a lampwork bead is? Lampworkers use a torch to melt rods of glass. Once the glass is hot enough the lampworker wraps the molten glass around a metal rod thats called a mandrel and hand shapes the glass into a bead. Then the bead has to be slowly cooled to prevent the glass from cracking. The best way that a lampworker has to do this is in a kiln. The kiln is a heat controlled box made out of fire brick. This process is called annealing. All high quality lampworkers anneal their beads. If the beads are not annealed properly in a kiln the bead may break in a few days, weeks or even in a few years because of stress pionts in the bead that were caused by uneven cooling. If your planning on buying any lampwork beads make sure that the lampworker anneals the beads.

The next thing you should look for in Lampwork beads is that they are cleaned properly. Lampworkers have to use a bead release coating over the mandrel so that the bead doesn't stick to the mandrel after the bead has cooled down to room temp. Once the bead is removed from the mandrel there will be bead release in the hole that is left in the bead where the mandrel was. Any lampworker that has pride and cares about the quality of their glass beads will remove all the bead release from the hole.
 One more thing you should look at is the area around the bead hole. It should be smooth. If there are any sharp points or nickes in the glass then the bead will cut through any material that is used to make jewelry.

    And last of all you should look at the shape of the lampwork beads. They should be very evenly done on both sides. Lots of beads that lampworkers make come out "wonky" that is to say they are off center or lopsided.

There are as many differant types and shapes of lampwork beads as there are shapes of snowflakes in a blizzerd. The beads you buy will be a one of a kind creation that should last a lifetime.

    So the next time you look at a Lampwork Bead you'll know that there is a lot of work, time and skill that goes into just one bead.