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Published on Nov 20, 2008
Lampworking is a form of glassworking using a torch to melt and shape molten glass. Here, Georgina Black of Fire Works Gallery and Studio in Bristol (UK), demos making a simple glass bead.
Although the technique dates back to ancient times, it truly flowered in the 14th century in Murano, Italy.
Early lampworking was done in the flame of an oil lamp, with the artist blowing air into the flame through a pipe. Times have changed, and the practice is now also known as torchworking, or flameworking, as torches burning propane, or natural gas, mixed with air or oxygen are mainly used to work with the glass.
Simply put, lampworking involves rods of glass being melted by the heat of a torch. The molten glass is then, in the case of bead making, wrapped around a steel mandrel which is coated in a clay based solution. Tools like a titanium pick or a graphite paddle are used to move and shape the glass, which must be kept at or near a molten state while being worked with.