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Handcrafted Lampwork Beads As Tiny Works of Art

Creating beaded jewelry is so much fun to do. It allows for an opportunity to use all sorts of findings and a little creativity to design original pieces of art. But what's something else that's interesting is that many of the beads designers use in their jewelry are also tiny pieces of art themselves. In many cases, another individual using their own intricate creative processes created the beads designers use. This is definitely the case when it comes to jewelry designed with lampwork beads.

Lampwork bead making really began to flourish in Murano, Italy in the 1300's. During this time, the beads were made in the flame of an oil lamp, while the designer blew air into the flame through a pipe.

Today's artists take a completely different approach. They use torches that burn either propane or natural gas for the fuel, and either air or pure oxygen as the oxidizer to melt and shape the glass. It's an intricate process that ends with beautiful results. The following is a simplified version of how to make lampwork beads.

What the designer needs to get started:

(1) Glass rods of whatever color(s) you desire your bead to be.

(2) A mandrel or stainless steel rod, pre-dipped in a chemical to keep the bead from sticking to the rod.

(3) Whatever specific tools are necessary to create the style and design of bead you desire.

(4) A torch.

How the designer creates the bead:

After the designer has assembled everything he needs to make his bead, he begins the actual process by turning on the torch and holding the glass rod over the heat until it begins to melt. It will form a molten blob on the end. Once the blob is big enough the mandrel will need to be heated up under the torch flame. Then the designer will wrap the molten glass around the mandrel while slowly twirling it at the same time.

The flame serves a couple purposes at this point. The first is to break the remaining glass rod away from the bead. The second is to shape the bead itself. This is done by holding it over the flame while the designer twirls it around to give it a nice donut shape. He is essentially using the flame and gravity to give it the desired form.

If he wants to make a certain design on the bead, he holds the bead in the higher part of the flame in order to keep it warm. Then he can get another glass rod of a different color and heat the tip of it. After it's heated, he takes it and carefully dabs it around the bead in whatever design he wishes, and then melts that into the bead.

After the designer is satisfied with his work, he puts the bead into the kiln overnight so it can anneal properly. Annealing is simply the process of heating and cooling which reduces its brittleness and allows the glass to strengthen.


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Learn Ways to Texture Your Precious Metal Clay for Jewelry Makers

One of the neatest things regarding using precious metal clay (Pmc and ACS or Art Clay Silver) is that you can add texture simply to your creations. Before Metal Clay came along, the only possible way you might texture metal as a jewelry maker was to etch with chemicals, stamp with metal stamps, or employ a pricey rolling mill. Metal Clay on the other hand is pretty a lot like potter's clay or plasticine, so that you can create exceptional details, complicated patterns, and mold and add texture to the material while soft. Try doing that with metal sheet!

These are some simple ways to add texture to precious metal clay while wet.

Be certain to remember before starting though that precious metal clay is sticky and you need to apply a release agent to whatever it touches. I love to employ a very thin coating of olive oil on my hands, work-area, and tools. Don't skip over this! You will be awfully sorry and have a mess to scrub up. Be certain not to use too much oil though because this will also mean a massive mess.

1. Plastic Texture Plates / Rubbing Plates

These are pretty cheap, and typically come with textures stamped on each side of the sheet. Just press the clay onto the sheet or vice versa

2. Repurposed Items

Found objects are the final word in inexpensive texturing gear! Coins, leaves, bark, driftwood, textiles, and textured wallpapers pieces will all do the job. Remember to apply some olive oil or other release agent. Use your imagination and you'll find lots of alternative textured objects you can use. Skewers or toothpicks can also be used to make dots, and scrape lines into the clay. If it is possible to find typewriter keys these can be employed to press letters and words into your clay. If you can't find old typewriter keys, inexpensive metal letter stamps are available.

3. Rubber and Silicone Texture Mats

Texture mats are available in truly amazing patterns, and since these sorts of mats are bendable, it is possible to press them around curved shapes.

4. Push Molds

There are some beautiful polymer clay push molds available, but as the majority are not flexible, you'll have issues getting your precious metal clay out of them. Be sure to make use of some olive oil or a product like Cool Slip to help the metal clay not stick to the mold. Letting the precious metal clay to dehydrate and shrink a touch will help liberate stubborn clay. You will find flexible push molds in candy and cake decorating supply outlets that work a treat too.

5. Rubber Stamps

Rubber Stamps come in a bewildering selection of kinds these days. Art supply outlets, scrapbooking shops, and even specialised rubber stamp suppliers are all around.

6. DIY Texturing Gear

I like making my own texturing equipment from polymer clay. To make your own, just do what I do, and form scrap polymer clay into a lump with a handle formed bit that pokes from the back. Make a pattern on the lumpy part. This will be the portion you press into the clay. I have made ones with crosshatch designs, flowers, polka dots, and small leaves. Once you produce a tool, just cure your new texturing tool according to the polymer clay information. There are lots of other methods to make your own texturing tools as well. Be sure to check out my other articles for additional recommendations.


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Tips On Buying Wholesale Lampwork Beads

Lampwork beads are among the few exclusive types of beads that you can use in jewelry making. If you are into jewelry making then you will know that they can give a unique look to your jewelry. These are made using a very interesting technique, by only expert and experienced artisans. In order to make these different, colored glass rods are heated and melted; the molten glass is then wrapped around a steel rod to form the basic glass bead. If these beads need to be embellished with other different materials, it has to be done while the bead is still hot. This technique is similar to that used in glassblowing.

If you need these beads in large quantities for your jewelry making then it makes sense to buy them in bulk from wholesale suppliers. However, there are a couple of things that you have to keep in mind when buying wholesale lampwork beads to ensure that you are spending your money wisely.

    The first thing that you need to understand is that all lampwork beads are not equal in terms of quality. So, make sure that you check the physical characteristics of the these before making a purchase. You must also check that the beads do not have sharp bead holes; their edges should be soft and rounded. Those beads having sharp edges may cut the thread onto which they are beaded; hence the jewelry made from them is not durable. Also, the edges of the beads should be rounded or they may cut your skin.

    Ensure that you buy these from an expert artisan. Since they are experienced in making the beads, the quality should be better.

    You will often notice that some lampwork beads have bubbles in them. While some people feel that they enhance the look, it is actually a sign of poor workmanship. Bubbles can weaken the structural integrity of the beads. However, if you like to have bubbles in your beads choose those beads in which the bubbles are not too close to the surface.

    Another important thing to take note of when buying wholesale lampwork beads is that the lampwork beads you purchase are kiln annealed. Annealing is the process that strengthens the beads and prevents them from cracking suddenly. This process is very important for the durability of the beads.

    In some beads you may also find chill marks, which are caused due to thermal shocks that can happen when the bead is pressed in a mold. Chill marks appear as tiny rings on the surface and occur when the bead is subjected to uneven heat. Such a process can also cause internal stress on the glass, thereby making them fragile.

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