Thursday, October 29, 2009

Beaded Jewelry by Susan: Glass Bead Primer, Part II

In the earlier post, I described the process of lampworking, making lampwork or lampglass beads, over an open flame, turning the bead and adding bits of colored glass and so on. One particular variety of lampglass bead that is especially lovely is the "foil bead." Gold, silver, or copper foil is added while the bead is molten and thus embedded inside the bead, either near the surface or around the core. Sometimes the foil presents a crackled sort of pattern that's very pretty. Sometimes the foil is smooth and even and it serves to reflect light beautifully. Here are some examples:

In the capri blue oval lampglass beads in these earrings, sterling silver foil has been added in thin strips that wrap around the bead and shine and sparkle nicely. In the red and gold pair, the gold foil creates a pattern, mixing with red glass inside the clear glass shell. Sometimes the foil is added on the surface of the bead in thick stripes, as in the black and gold discs below, or in a smooth single sheet to make the whole bead glow, as in the clear foil squares.

Nifty, huh? There can also be flecks of gold or silver, swirls of "gold dust" (aventurine glass powder), and other great effects. There's more to come in this glass beads series, by the way: millefiore, hollow blown glass, furnace or cane glass, pressed (molded) glass, etc. Lampworking is an old art and a modern one as well, with lots of new technology (propane torches instead of oil lamps, for example), and it is practised in many different places: Italy (especially Venice), the Czech Republic, Japan, China, and, most recently, in the United States -- where many wonderful glass artisans are making unique and thrillingly intricate handmade glass beads.  Final note for now: all of the "examples" that I'm showing in this glass bead primer are available right now for purchase at affordable prices (twelve bucks, free domestic shipping) at my etsy online shop:

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