FireGlo Glass Art Jewelry by Gail May
How is the Jewelry Created

Glass beads thought to date as far back as 1400 b.c. were found in Egypt. "Lampwork" is the art of making beads by winding molten glass around a steel mandrel. It is called "lampwork" because early glass beadmakers in Venice used oil lamps as the heat source for melting glass.

Today it is more common to use a torch, such as the mega minor torch I work on. This torch uses a mix of oxygen and propane. Propane is the fuel and oxygen is the accelerant. I can get a precise flame and control the heat to work the glass.

First I coat mandrels (thin metal rods, 1/16", 1/32", 1/8", etc) with bead release (a gray watery clay-type liquid). I let the bead release dry. I then take the glass rods of many assorted colors and melt the glass onto the mandrel, rotating the mandrel slowly to form a ball. Then I let the glass cool slightly to where it loses its bright orange lava appearance and begins to solidify and I decorate the bead with very thin rods of glass (stringers). Once the bead is decorated and shaped, I let it cool slightly before putting it in the kiln.

The finished beads are placed still on the mandrels in the kiln at over 940°. Once I have finished making all the beads I intend to make at that time, I program the kiln to very slowly cool (takes about 4 hours) to room temperature. After the beads have cooled I remove them from the kiln and soak them in soapy warm water. Then I remove the beads from the mandrels and clean the hole of bead release. I am now ready to make jewelry!!!

What I enjoy about making glass beads is the endless variations of color, designs and shapes. No two beads are the same.  They are unique and cannot be duplicated. Colors, designs and shapes can be copied, but no two beads will be exactly the same!