Lampwork? What is that?
Lampwork is the art of melting and shaping glass at the torch flame. Going back many years, artisans would use an oil lamp for their flame - hence ‘lampwork’.
I love glass beads, but sometimes the ones I buy from bead shops are dusty. Why is this, and what can I do about it?
The dust is residue of ‘bead release’, which is a crystalline silica ‘clay’. Beads wound on steel mandrels would be fused forever to the mandrels if the mandrels didn’t have this clay on them - it’s a sacrificial layer which can be crumbled away in order to remove the beads from the mandrels. It is necessary for the clay residue to then be safely removed from the bead holes using water and a file. The dust is harmful if breathed in, which is why I take great care to remove all traces of it from my beads.
If you have bought dusty beads from a bead shop, don’t panic! You simply need a file (I use a steel diamond needle file, but some bead shops might be able to sell you a bead reamer) and a washing-up bowl of clean water. Holding the bead under the water, carefully file the hole until no residue remains, and then rinse and dry the beads. Perfect!
Where are you based?
I rent a workshop at Village Works in the centre of East Hoathly, near Lewes, East Sussex. My neighbours at Village Works include a photographer, an osteopathy practice, a wood engraver/signwriter/sculptor, a flower school, a dressmaking studio/sewing school, and a homeopathic veterinary practice. It's a lovely place to work.
Find me here.
Where can I buy your beads and jewellery?
You can buy my beads online from the LetFireInspire shop on Etsy.
My jewellery is available online from myCrafty.
You can buy by appointment here at the workshop, or you’re welcome to visit without notice during my open studio events, when I'll have beads and jewellery for sale.
In addition, I occasionally attend bead fairs and events in Sussex and Surrey.
Do you ship worldwide?
Can I visit your workshop?
Visitors are very welcome! Outside of open studio events, please let me know in advance that you’re coming, so that I can ensure that I’m available.
Can I request a custom order?
I sometimes receive requests for custom orders, and you are very welcome to ask! Do though please be aware that I work in a particular style - I focus specifically on the ‘little and round’ and work with my favoured brands and types of glass. If your commission is for something that is not typical of my existing form of work, or is outside of my experience, please don’t be offended if I am unable to take it on. Thank you.
It seems that artisan handmade lampwork glass beads are expensive. Why’s that?
Lampwork glass beadmaking is a one-bead-at-a-time process, with no possibility for batch production or automation. Each bead is its own piece of glass art. For this reason, they are sought-after as components in high-end jewellery.
But that’s great! If you need a unique look to your work, then you need a unique product!
Regarding discounts for bulk (no, sorry) - think about making a set of 10 beads as painting 10 pictures from scratch, each time starting with a blank piece of paper. Ten beads - or paintings - take ten times the time, and ten times the materials, as one bead or one painting. It’s not a batch of cookies!
Why do you only make beads at the flame, rather than other things out of glass too?
All of my work is made on mandrels, so each piece has a hole in the middle! Beadmaking is a very specific craft, and beads are my primary (indeed my only) focus.
How long does it take to make a bead?
Plain spacer beads - simple, smallish beads with no decoration - take me two to three minutes per bead.
Simple designs such as random dots take another couple of minutes.
My more complex designs - spiral scrolls, layered dots, layered stripes, ‘harlequin’ designs, to name but a few - can take way longer.
The largest bead I have ever made, which was a complex hazed core merging from handmixed green to hazy white to handmixed blue, with successive layers of encasing, manipulating, more encasing and shaping, took an hour and a half!
Can I learn how to make beads?
Yes you can - and I’d love to welcome you on one of my courses! Book online here.
If I do a course, can I take my beads home with me the same day?
Hot glass needs to be kiln-annealed for lasting strength. Beads that cool too quickly will break. For this reason, the beads you make will be put into my pre-heated kiln straight from the torch flame as we go along, where they will be annealed (cooled very, very slowly) overnight. I aim to post my students’ beads to them the next weekday after their course. Postage of your beads is included in your course fee.
How can I stay in touch with you?
Pop over to Twitter or Instagram to keep up-to-date with what’s going on! Click on the icons at the bottom of this page to find @letfireinspire.
I update my Journal page frequently, so you’ll also see my latest news on there.
I have another question - can you help?
I’ll do my best! Contact me here.
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This page was last updated on 11/12/2018