One of my favorite types of bead is the 'lampworked', or 'flameworked' bead. Though such beads have an incredible history, as discussed below, today beadmakers use single or dual fuel torches, typically propane fueled, to heat a rod of glass and spin the resulting thread around a metal rod covered in bead release. When the base bead has been formed, other colors of glass can be added to the surface to create multicolored decorations with different colors, effects, and textures. After this initial stage of the beadmaking process, the bead can be further fired in a kiln to make it more durable.
In the 19th century, large quantities of beads were produced in the Venetian industry. At that time, the core of a lampworked bead was produced from molten glass at furnace temperatures, a large-scale industrial process dominated by men. Then it was left to women, working at home with an oil or spirit lamp, to reheat the cores and add the decorations using wisps of colored glass. The women were paid by the piece for these creations, not unlike the many women artists of today -- though such artists today generally 'own' the entire process.
The variety of lampworked beads appears to be endless, and as in the art and craft of clay, new methods, designs, textures, colors and creations are constantly emerging. While normally I would say nothing can rival the beauty of natural gemstones, I must admit that many of these beautiful beads come very, very close. I am humbled by the talent of these modern-day craftswomen and artists. On the Etsy.com site, Renee Richeson offers the necklace with the lampworked pendant pictured here. Don't forget to view our very special lampwork bead offerings here at The Bead Collection and on our Etsy site as well: http://tinyurl.com/atcs2p3