You’ve anticipated this special night out for a long time now, and it has finally arrived. Everything has been well planned in advance and you even bought a new dress. But now you have that huge decision … what jewelry do you wear? My favorite is always something truly unique made with lampwork beads.
Why Handmade Glass Beads Are Better
Recently, lampwork beads have become more and more popular among jewelry makers, and there are increasing numbers of artisans making these stunning beads at their own studios. That is good for the rest of us because we have so many beautiful beads to choose from with each artisan adding their own flair to the glass beads they make.
Despite the name, these beads have nothing to do with actual lamps as we know them today. They are made from glass, and it is no surprise, because glass is an artisans dream. Each bead can take an artisan hours to create by heating a glass rod and winding it into the shape of the base bead, then intricate patterns and colors can be added to the bead with nearly limitless design possibilities. The bead is then annealed to make it less fragile. Mass produced beads often are not annealed so are more prone to easily break.
Handmade lampwork beads are created one at a time over a torch, the modern form of the age-old art of ‘lampwork’, using mass manufactured glass rods, called canes, which are available in a huge variety of colors. Depending on the type of bead being made the canes may be hollow or solid. Each bead can vary slightly, remember it is handmade, but that is also what gives it such appeal. The beads are created in various shapes, plenty of colors, different sizes and, of course, with lots of personality.
Once the basic bead is created some will then have intricate designs etched over them with surface treatments including electro forming, fuming metals and acid etching to create exquisite designs. Some techniques give the beads a vintage look.
There are also Venetian glass beads which are created in Venice using techniques dating back to 1291. These glassmakers have refined technologies such as crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo) making their glasswork world renowned. Wedding cake beads, Fiorato, which are decorated with glass overlays featuring roses, swirls and dots and Venetian foil beads, with their fusion of color, gold and silver foil, are just two of the kinds of beads made using the lamp-work method.
The millefiori beads are made using the hollow cane and six layers of glass starting with white, blue, white, brick red, and finally blue. After layering with these colors the beads are ground to product patterns of five concentric stars with twelve points. The canes are then chopped into individual beads.
Lampwork glass beads are beautiful when complimented with Swarovksi crystals and glass pearls. Combining colors such as pale purple lampwork with amethyst Czech flower beads makes an interesting statement jewelry piece.
Glass Jewelry Artisans
But enough of the technical aspects, we just like to admire the beauty of these beads once the artisan has created them. So, have fun selecting that perfect lampwork glass bead piece for your special occasion, I am sure you will not be disappointed!