How Lampworking Works

More Lampworking Materials

What about the actual bead making? You'll need plenty of tools for that, too, including:

  • Glass Rods: Obviously, to make glass beads, you need glass. The glass used to make beads comes in different-colored rods. For bead making, you use soft glass, which means it melts at a lower temperature than other types of glass. For larger pieces (such as sculpture), you would use harder glass.
  • Mandrels: These are the stainless-steel rods around which the glass gets wrapped as it melts.
  • Bead-release Formula: This is a coating material you put on the mandrels so the glass doesn't stick to them.
  • Bead Reamers: If you want to thread your beads when you're done, you'll need a reamer to clean out any excess material from the beads' centers after they're made and cooled.
  • Shapers: Made of metal or graphite (so they won't melt when hot glass is pressed against them), shapers help form the beads. Anything from a kitchen knife to pliers to lampworking-specific tools such as marvers (flat surfaces on which glass is rotated) and graphite paddles can do the job.
  • Stainless steel tweezers: You'll need theseto push and pull softened glass around.

And though the saying goes "safety first," we're discussing safety equipment last. You'll need:

  • Protective goggles
  • Gloves (when you're working with the kiln)
  • A first-aid kit
  • A fire extinguisher
  • Leak-detection fluid, to make sure that the tubes connecting the tank to the torch are tight
  • Carbon monoxide detector
  • Quenching bowl, a heat-resistant bowl filled with water in which you can cool your tools

How exactly does one use these tools and materials? Read on to the next section for a basic how-to.