Lampwork glass beads are formed in the flame of a bench mounted blowtorch using rods of coloured glass. I use specialty silver rich glass extensively in my work, for the colour variation and richness. I also include pure silver. You have to be something of an alchemist to extract the best from these ingredients! I work in layers, from the inside outwards, building up glass onto a stainless-steel mandrel, coated in a ceramic material, which forms the hole. I sculpt the glass in the flame using hand tools made of brass, steel or graphite, and not forgetting gravity.
Once I start a bead there is no other option but to finish, the glass must be kept hot enough at all times so it does not crack, but not so hot that it drips onto your workbench!
Sixteen years in and I’m still in love with glass and the infinite variety of things that can be made with it.
Glass is a kind of magic to me, an evolution, transforming in the flame from cold and hard to molten and glowing. It can be manipulated and layered, I can bring out colours and effects from the metals contained within using flame chemistry, at that moment I’m in control, my choices and movements take immediate effect. But I walk a tightrope, a balance of skill and chance. The colours depend on a mixture of temperature and chemistry, tiny fluctuations give variations across each bead. Even though they may seem a small canvas, the variety can be huge.
As the glass slowly cools back to a solid, it retains the essence of its prior fluid state with grace and delicate details to capture and transform light.