I took a 2-day class last May, through the local arts center, on how to make lampworked glass beads. This is something I've always wanted to try, so I jumped at the chance when my friend showed the beads she had made at the previous session.
It's so much fun!
These are formed on a steel mandrel, using glass rods melted in a torch clamped to the table in front of you. You wind the molten glass around the mandrel, and can layer colors, shape the glass, poke it, press it, drag it, encase bubbles, almost anything!
I used a pretty matched pair of sparkly green dot beads to make earrings:
and some others to make a necklace and earring set:
and put others on cords for simple necklaces:
I had one blobby mistake bead that detached itself from the mandrel and tried to self-destruct. I pulled off a heroic save and turned it into a pendant, and it ended up one of my favorites:
I think it looks like a field of daffodils. All in all, a fantastic way to spend a weekend.
Last weekend, I took another glass workshop from the same instructor, this time blowing glass ornaments. This was the real deal glassblowing, with the scary big furnaces and kilns and cauldrons of molten glass, and 6-foot-long blowpipes.
The instructors did the dangerous parts like dipping out the molten glass and manipulating it into shape as it was blown, which was fine since it was just a half-hour workshop and not really a full class with instruction. I did get to choose the design, roll the frit (colored crushed glass) onto the gather (blob) of clear glass,
heat it in the glory hole (scary big furnace),
and actually blow the bubble.
Then the instructors knocked the ornament off the blowpipe, added another blob of clear glass to the top, and shaped a loop for a hanger.
Then it went immediately into the kiln to anneal (slowly cool overnight), so it wouldn't crack.
I did two of the workshop sessions, and so came away with two ornaments. My first one is very subtle, just streaks of pale green on clear.
I think it will be so pretty on the tree, reflecting all the other colors around it.
My second ornament is a deep, deep cobalt blue.
It has bronzy-copper spots on the bottom that were dragged upward while the glass was molten, to spread the color and give it some texture.
For now I have them hanging in my living room window. The blue, especially, is beautiful as the light shines through it. I can't believe I helped make these!
Working with glass and seeing what it does is so fun. It's as magical as watching fiber turn into yarn. It's a good thing that getting a torch setup going is expensive. Beadmaking is fun, but I do not need another hobby.
But I will be taking the bead class when they offer it again!