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I have been interested in jewelry making since a young age and I have been designing jewelry since I was at school. I loved looking through magazines bursting full of "findings" and spent all my pocket money on, but didn't realize you could actually make glass beads. After 11 years as a Veterinary Nurse, I stumbled across the art of Lampworking. Wow! I've been completely hooked (obsessed!!!) ever since. I find the amazing array of glass fascinating - more colors than you could ever imagine.
As I said, lampwork glass beads are made out of molten glass using an old method which has been passed down through ages. The process begins with the narrow rods of glass being slowly introduced into the flame tip of a gas burner torch, then heated until molten. The glass I use is COE 104, Effetre (Moretti), Lauscha, Vetrofond, Double Helix, Creation Is Messy (CIM). My torch is duel fuelled, it runs on propane and oxygen. The molten glass is then being wound around a thin, stainless specially-coated steel rod (a mandrel). The glass is turned into different positions to enable it to take shape, this forms the base bead. The removal of this mandrel leaves a hole through the center, the thickness of the mandrel determines the size of the bead hole.
The bead is then decorated and manipulated with a variety of techniques and materials. Glass lampwork beads can be made in a variety of styles: with a mix of layers, dots, stripes, and a multitude of colors; there is nothing to stop your fantasy! My favorite glass is the glass made by Double Helix. It is loaded with silver and when worked in certain flames, produces wonderful effects. The bead must be kept at similar temperature throughout or it will shatter. This is called lampworking. Once finished the bead must be slowly cooled then annealed in a digitally controlled kiln to prevent cracking or shattering.
Annealing a bead is to heat until its temperature reaches a stress-relief point - a temperature at which the glass is too hard to deform, yet soft enough for internal stresses to ease. The bead must soak in this heat until its temperature is uniform. The bead is then cooled at a slow rate until its temperature is below a critical point, where it cannot generate internal stresses, and then can safely be dropped to room temperature - relieving the internal stresses. This causes the bead to be stronger and more durable. Beads which do not undergo the annealing process may crack or shatter due to a minor temperature change or a slight knock.(The beads are glass, so may still break if dropped!) Then beads are thoroughly cleaned and temporarily strung.
I am a completely self taught lampworker and jewelry designer! My studio can be found in the heart of North Yorkshire, in the heart of England, where I spend most of my life! I put my heart and soul into making each and every bead. They are a reflection of how I am feeling at that moment, the glass captures emotion and expressions. I love working with glass, its reactions and flow amaze me. I wouldn't be able to live my dream if it wasn't for the support of my fabulous customers!
|Clare Scott, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom|
|Beads by Clare Scott:||www.clarescott.co.uk|