Lampwork, torchwork or flamework is a type of glasswork that uses a gas fueled torch to melt rods of clear and colored glass. Once in a molten state, the glass is formed by blowing or shaping with tools and hand movements combined with heat and gravity to achieve the desired shape. The term ‘lampwork’ is used because the process originated with the use of oil-fueled lamps.
I do not use bead presses to shape my glass beads.
All Thistle Glass beads are created with heat, gravity and basic tools such as a pick or knife, pliers and a graphite paddle. No two beads are exactly the same and created with much patience, love and good energy.
My Glass of Choice and Why:
I used to lampwork using ‘soft’ glass, which is the same type of glass used in glass fusion. I found it difficult to work with over an open flame.
I then began to research ‘hard’ Borosilicate Glass also known as Pyrex. Borosilicate is a very hard glass originally used as laboratory glass. This glass was tough and its resilience, impressive. Borosilicate glass could also ‘color strike’, meaning it could change colors when I altered the fuel mix in my torch. Soft glass could not do this at the time.
Raw Borosilicate glass is more expensive and requires a much hotter flame, thus tripling the cost of oxygen needed. Once I learned how to work with Boro, I realized it’s infinite potential and there was no going back. Despite the financial concerns, I turned up the heat in my glass shop and continue to learn and grow, now feeling confident in every bead I make.
All of my lampwork is made from Borosilicate glass and properly annealed (cooled) in my kiln for added strength and durability.