Lampwork beads are made by melting narrow rods of glass by hand over an open flame (usually a torch). The glass is wrapped around a thin metal rod (a mandrel), which later becomes the hole through the bead. Many effects can be achieved through using various colors of glass and various techniques. Lampwork beads can also be crated into small figurines such as faces or animals.
While Lampwork beads can be mass produced, the elaborate and colorful handworked beads make stunning jewelry. Handmade Lampwork beads are made on a metal rod called mandrels. Molten glass is wound on the rod and then designs with other colors are added to enhance the bead.
The bead is started with a colorful glass rod which is heated and twirled around a mandrel to form the base of the bead. After the main bead is formed, different colored of glass rods are heated and joined to the bead, creating dots, spirals, stripes, geometric designs and other embellishments. Lampwork beads can be found in many shapes, including square, round and oval. Creative artists shape elaborate figurines like fruits, faces, ornaments and creatures.
After the beads are made, they are then put into a kiln to heat all parts evenly and then allowed to cool slowly to reduce the stress in the bead and to make sure the glass does not crack as it cools. This is called annealing and it results in stronger beads. After the bead is cooled it is removed from the mandrel. The beads are now ready to be incorporated into a beautiful piece of jewelryMany artists are attracted to this technique because in allows creative freedom in the creation of beads for many uses, and employs vivid colors.
Lampwork beads that are especially artistic or ornate can be combined to create beautiful jewelry, particularly bracelets and necklaces. Larger beads make an excellent focal point for bracelets, necklaces, earrings and even rings. Other less distinctive beads and spacers are often used to enhance the more artistic Lampwork beads. Sets of coordinated Lampwork bead jewelry are popular and can be found in many upscale boutiques.