Lampworking Glass: Using Glass Beads in Finished Jewelry Designs
Lampworked glass is a wonderful art form. It’s one of, if not the original thing that drew me into beads and jewelry making. Broaching the subject of making glass beads in our home, I said to my husband, “The techniques involved with lampworking glass are basic and I only need a few tools.” I tried.
He didn’t bite and so my course to lampworking my own glass beads has been a bit circuitous, enjoying classes and torch time as time and life permit. All the while though, my lampworking tools and materials grow, waiting for their day in the sun.
Despite the roadblocks, I’ve satisfied my need to create with glass beads by supporting the artists who do have studios and those who create glass beads that speak to me. There are many artists out there and I encourage you to find your favorites and start or add to a collection of your own.
Lampworking Glass, Part I
In this multi-part lampworking series, we’ll be covering different lampworking-related topics. Part I covers jewelry-design ideas to whet your appetite for using lampworked beads. It is my hope to inspire you with ideas on what to do with your glass bead collection — those you’ve made or those you’ve purchased.
Wire and Glass are Perfect Partners
Round wire in gauges 18-12 are a perfect match for the weight of most lampworked glass beads (those in my collection, any way). Here is a design “sampler” that shows off the beauty of the beads. Components are wire wrapped with some created to hold the beads, others just to showcase them. The bracelet is assembled to the right length then tumbled to bring a beautiful finish to the wire.
BANG Gals by Kerry Bogert, from her book Totally Twisted is made using various-gauges of sterling silver wire, 20-gauge colored copper wire, and beads made by Cassie Donlen.
Cagey by Kerry Bogert is a great example of creating a “cage” around a bead then leaving the cage exposed. There is a lot of interest in a design like this — from the wire coil to the beautiful colors in the beads. In Kerry’s words “The final dangle reminds me of twirling kite tails and beachside wind socks.”
Denise Perry created this Wire Link Bracelet using round and twisted wire — originally published in Step by Step Wire Jewelry, Fall 2005.
Copper wire also works well with glass beads, of course! Here’s an example of another design made using glass beads by Worn Beadies. The main structure of the design is a copper chain. The chain and the heart motif are made using NTap! And NTaj! tools, by Brenda Schweder. (Check out the ABC’s of Wire Wrangling Using Now That’s a Jig for how to use these great tools.) The lampworked heart is added to the wire with a folded wire bail which captures the glass without risking any damage to the bead holes.
Copper Galaxy by Kristy Abner brings the beauty of copper and turquoise colored lampworked beads together.
Glass Beads and Seed Beads
Excerpted from Totally Twisted, by Kerry Bogert, Interweave
“Seed beads are a wonderful pairing with lampworked glass beads. With countless colors available, it’s easy to find a seed bead shade that will match perfectly with the lampworked glass. In this piece, we’ll show off an amazing bead with some more subtle touches of wire.”
Lampworked Glass Bead Focal on Chain
You can use premade chain or create lengths of chain to create different designs that set off a single lampworked bead. Here are a few examples, with quotes excerpted from Totally Twisted.
“Fringe is fun, fringe is fabulous, and you can create, fringe for metal jewelry with jump rings. These little wire doodads echo the shape of this gorgeous lampworked bead, and the pop of an orange-colored coil adds just the right visual touch.”
“I love the swoops and swirls that prance around the length of this handmade chain. With fiery orange as bright as the sun and dots as blue as the sky, this bead reminds me of the West. Just strap on your cowgirl boots, shout “Yee haw!” and you’ll have roped one of these for yourself in no time.”
“This simple bracelet design lets you highlight a single art bead and show off a bit of handmade wire chain. Keep the fit tight, and the bead will stay right on top of your wrist where it can be properly admired. A double strand of this dainty style chain will help balance out the overall size of the finished piece.”
“I know this design isn’t timeless in the classical sense. I can’t image a 1920s movie starlet wearing one, but I could be wrong. The bracelet gets its name from the large flat disc bead that looks very much like a watch face on your wrist. Obviously glass can’t tell time though, so it’s Timeless!”
Design and Techniques
There are so many ways you can create jewelry designs using lampworked glass beads. Totally Twisted along with other projects found in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist and the Interweave store are there for you to learn and draw inspiration from. Totally Twisted also offers the basics on tools, beads, wire, the techniques and know-how needed to create the designs shown here (and so many more) as well as a great chapter on working with color.
Stay tuned for more on lampworking glass!
Editor and Web Producer, Interweave Bead & Jewelry Group
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