Fine Handmade Lampwork Glass Art Beads For Jewelry Designers & Collectors
While Pandora beads have been around for a while now, I really did not take much notice of them until this past Christmas when the commercially made beads were being advertised all over the place.
Everytime I turned around they were showing up in the newspaper, on television commercials, the internet, and magazines. Being a consumer of all things jewelry related, they grew on me and I had to have one. Of course, as a lampworker, I couldn’t actually *buy* the commercially made glass beads – I had to make them myself.
The main difference between Pandora style beads and regular lampwork beads is just the size of the hole. All that was needed for me to make my new beads was the large size steel mandrels which create the correct size hole. It took a little getting used to holding and turning the much larger mandrel in my hand but after a couple of tries I had it down.
Once annealed and fitted with sterling silver end caps, I had a lovely bracelet filled with all my lampworked Pandora style beads (that’s my bracelet in the photo above)….and a few charms too ;-D I imagine most people probably add more charms to their bracelet than lampwork beads, but I just couldn’t stop making these beauties – so my bracelet is loaded with them.
TIP: If you are thinking of buying a Pandora style bracelet yourself, one tip I have is to purchase the bracelet a full size (or at least 1/2 size) bigger than you usually wear. That extra length will be taken up by the lampwork beads once they’re added to the bracelet.
The beads that I get the most compliments on from my own bracelet are the ones I now offer for sale in my Ebay store. Here are just a couple of the Pandora style beads I offer that are currently available:
Until next time,
With my recent purchase of an optic mold, I have begun a journey to make my own intricately striped murrini.
An optic mold is a small graphite vessel of any shape or size, in which you put a cylinder of hot, soft glass so that it takes on whatever shape the mold happens to be. In my case I have a mold shaped like a flower with many ‘spokes’ to form indentations where I’ll add thin lines of color to create mulitple stripes on the outside of the murrini.
Once the layers of glass are all melted in and the cylinder molten, it is pulled into a long cane which stretches the design evenly throughout the glass.
This cane is then cross-cut into slices that are individually applied to lampwork beads to create tiny, beautiful intricate patterned designs such as the one seen above.
Making my own murrini is something I’ve done for quite a while now, such as the simple black striped Raku/Chalcedony murrini seen in these photos.
While these murrini are beautiful and I will always use this style in my work, I longed to make my own multiple striped murrini that is much more intricate with many different layers and colors of glass.
For this type of multiple-striped murrini, the use of an optic mold is essential in order to create dozens of evenly spaced lines.
There is definitely a learning curve of understanding how the different glass colors interact with each other once they’re stretched into long canes. Many glass colors simply do not contain enough pigment in order to retain their brilliant colors once pulled so thin. I can see that I will need to do much experimenting and keep careful notes in order to come up with successful murrini designs and color combinations.
Another type of murrini I’ve recently made, that does not require the use of an optic mold, was a pretty flower murrini in California Poppy colors.
This murrini is constructed in much the same way regular, striped murrini is made – but in a ‘reverse painting’ manner. That is, the glass must be layered with the inner colors of the petals applied first, instead of last as they usually are, since the murrini is to be fanned out instead of pulled inward.
Construction of this type of murrini requires a few more steps, such as building the stamens in the center of the flower. These are multiple strands of clear encased opaque glass in colors such as green, brown and yellow.
Application of the flower murrini is a little tricky as well. With traditional murrini you want the stripes on the outside to point toward the center creating a ‘spoked’ pattern (like a bicycle wheel). With flower murrini you use the heat of the flame and special metal tools to help push the petals outward, as a blooming flower would look. However, when heat is applied to these little murrini chips the glass has a strong desire to curl inward toward the center – so careful heat control must be used along with the use of the tools to achieve the desired, natural open-flower look.
I currently have 2 sets up on eBay that both include beads containing my new California Poppy flower murrini:
WATERLILY – available till Sunday on eBay.
BRONZE AGE – available till Sunday on eBay.
Until next time,
With the holidays fast approaching I wanted to do a set of beads with lots of sparkle and shine…
The result is ‘Noel’ which pairs both transparent Rubino Oro glass (pink gold) with a warm sage green. A twist on the traditional Christmas colors of bright red and green.
To that I added dichroic glass, silver glass, 23K gold leaf, sparkly goldstone, cubic zirconia, handmade murrini and more!
These beads are so much prettier in person, especially in direct sunlight!
“NOEL” – available till Sunday on eBay.
This next collection was inspired by a recent vacation – I wanted to recreate the liquid blue colors of tropical water with a punch of color for contrast. The result is a nice blend of turquoise and transparent aqua blue with rich coral and subtle black outlined details.
CORONADO – available till Sunday on eBay.
I love the look of scrolls and raised flowers – to me these two design elements have an antique yet timeless feel to them.
For this set I used sparkly blue aventurine stringers for the scrollwork and clear encased Davinci silver glass for the 3 petal flowers. The base is a yummy combination of ivory and transparent light toffee colored glass.
TAPESTRY – available till Sunday on eBay.
Until next time…