As I wrote in my last post, I have learned to appreciate the process and effort that it takes for a small business to produce a product. I had NO IDEA before doing it myself the details and steps involved. Let’s walk through the process I go through in order to create some of my artwork.
To start, I had to prepare a safe space to work which included proper ventilation and equipment (torch, propane, oxygen concentrator and kiln – well, those are the big items anyway).
Now, let’s get started. For lampworking, I either go to a glass supply store or order glass online. I also order pins, bails, clasps, hooks, etc to make into final pieces. Glass for lampwork is in rods – as pictured here.
When I’m ready to play, I first turn on the kiln to reach 960 degrees, turn on the O2 concentrator, and get the mandrels ready by coating them in “bead release” so they will be able to come off the mandrel when they are finished. I then open a window, turn on the exhaust fan, turn on the propane, and light the torch. I usually spend 2-3 hours at a time working on creating beads by melting the glass using the torch and shaping into beads. While I’m working, I place the beads inside the hot kiln until I’m finished with my last bead. Once I finish my last bead, I program the kiln to hold the temperature for 30 minutes before starting to ramp down. This is the annealing process that is critical in helping to make the beads stable, durable, and less likely to crack. The kiln must cool to room temperature before the beads can be removed. It is often difficult to have to wait the 6-7 hours while beads are annealing because I get so excited and want to see how they turned out!! Here are mandrels sticking out of the kiln.
Once the kiln has cooled to room temperature I remove the mandrels which hold the beads and place them in a cup of warm water to loosen the bead release, remove them from the mandrel and use a Dremel to clean the bead release out of the bead hole.Then I put matching beads together to create maybe a necklace or earrings and assemble.
Fused glass projects are a very different process which I will explain in another post 🙂
Michelle, I appreciate your explanation. It gives me a better picture of the process of all you do for your beads.