I had a friend who traded working in polymer clay for glass. She reasoned that when she screwed up polymer clay it was ugly but no matter what you do to glass, it’s still beautiful. It’s hard to disagree, although some of my glass work might be an exception to her rule.
I only make lamp worked beads in the summer because I do not have a proper exhaust system to suck out the fumes. In the summer I can open windows, doors and run a series of fans to keep the air moving. But when the autumn becomes brisk, I put the glass away.
\ Being a summer only lamp worker means that I don’t have the torch hours necessary to get as adept as I would like. On the other hand, I find that I am pretty much able to pick up where I left off when I light the torch in the spring.
The beads above are made from lead glass or moretti glass and some of them are enhanced with fine silver. I love the blue bicone. That’s blue and a bit of green translucent lead glass fumed, raked and paddled smooth on the bead. The beads are sitting on a fiber blanket in my kiln waiting annealing. I cool them in a fiber blanket when I first make them, but that does not anneal them!
I batch anneal my beads rather than heating the kiln going every time I light the torch. I think it’s more energy efficient.
Here’s the Jen Ken Bead Annealer that has served me well. It has a manual control and for a few years I had to monitor the kiln like a hawk and make sure it was moving through the annealing cycles properly and making adjustments.
Then I found this baby for a reasonable price a few years ago. Thew price has gone up since then. A digital controller is great though and a separate controller can be used with different kilns. I like the flexibility. Now all I have to do is enter my annealing schedule and the kiln does the rest. Yes, I still have to watch and monitor but fiddling with the dial is a thing of the past.
Big Holed Bead on the mandrel
Lead glass silvered
The same bead cooled. Aren’t the colors great? That’s translucent lead glass similar to what you see in the picture below.
Happy bead making!
Don’t miss Beadfest this weekend!