Friday, April 30, 2010

Lampworking--My New Adventure

After talking about it for what seems like years, I've finally gotten myself set up to start lampworking (making glass beads) at home! I purchased the HotHead Torch Kit from RioGrande several months ago and after a fantastic 1:1 lesson from Sheri Fiegelson (the mother of a co-worker who happens to be an extremely talented lampworker) I gained the confidence to set up in my garage and give it a try on my own.


Already, I am complely hooked! Melting glass is SO much fun, and although I'm still figuring things out I've already made a few beads that I have deemed worthy to be made into jewelry :)

All things considered I was rather surprised at how easy it was to set up my lampworking bench. In addition to the kit (which comes with the torch, an assortment of glass, mandrels, bead release, a few tools, safety glasses, etc.) I had to purchase a few cans of MAPP gas (available at hardware stores--I got mine at Lowes for about $7.50 per can) and I had to fire-proof my table. I used some mismatched ceramic floor tiles that I had purchased for photo backdrops (also from Lowes). I've read that you can also use cookie sheets--the main goal being to make sure your table/bench has a heat-resistant surface.

Of course, now that I'm hooked I could easily spend a TON of money on the hobby......right now I'm using the fiber blanket that came with the kit to cool my beads, but in the long run purchasing a kiln to anneal my beads will be a must (annealing is the process of slowly cooling the lampworked glass to reduce stress within the glass slowly for greater strength/durability and to reduce the likelihood of cracking). I've already purchased some additional mandrels from a fellow Etsian since the kit only came with 10 (and running out of mandrels when you're on a roll making beads is no fun!) I could go on about this new adventure forever, but need to stop and make dinner so I can get back to melting glass! Anyone who is interested in getting started lampworking feel free to contact me for a beginner's perspective :)

4 comments:

percy handmade said...

What a fun little adventure indeed! i've always admired lampworking and I'd love to see how they turn out!

kelleysbeads said...

Yay Jessica! I'm so excited for you!!! Please go to: http://www.artcoinc.com/annealing_bubbles.php and order some annealing bubbles

They are inexpensive and will do a much better job at slowly cooling your beads than the fiber blanket. The Japanese use ONLY these bubbles for their (Satake) glass and no kiln. You may consider building your inventory in Satake glass because it has a lower melting point (perfect with a hothead!) and can be fully annealed in the bubbles....no kiln expense.

Rose said...

YAY! How exciting! I'm totally jealous. I want to try my hand at making beads... but it will have to wait until I can afford my own place...

Good luck! I know you will make such pretty lovelies!!! :D

士松 said...

人生是一連串的課程,必須活過才能明白。 ..................................................