Some Clarifications on Process


beads-in-annealer, originally uploaded from Flickr.

I’d really like to have a nice Process page explaining the glass lampworking techniques I use with photos and so forth. But my recent initial attempts to take step-by-step photos using a tripod while at the torch has confirmed that this will be a bit tricky. For starters, my workspace is a bit cluttered. I can work on that, but I will still have to solve the difficulties of photographing open flame and glowing glass in a way that is visually comprehensible. And I’ll have to get adept at using my camera’s timer, or enlist someone else’s help. I still think that this is a worthwhile undertaking, especially since glass techniques are not as widely understood as other mediums. However, it will clearly be an on-going project.

Still, I can begin by clarifying some basic points, which will hopefully evolve into a more dynamic presentation on a separate page.


  • There are a number of kinds of glass which differ from one another in the ingredients they are composed of and the physical properties which result, such as melting point and the colors which can be achieved. I use two types, sodalime or “soft” glass and borosilicate which is a “hard” glass. Each has different properties which make them conducive to different shapes and forms.
  • As glass is worked in the flame, stresses form in it because the molecules are being moved around. These stresses create fault lines where breakage is more likely. To remove the work stress and reduce the fragility of the piece, glass can be placed in a kiln and heated and cooled in a specific time cycle. This process is called annealing.


Here are the beads I’ve made since the New Year in the annealer.

  • Because different types of glass have different annealing cycles, I need to anneal my soft and hard glass pieces separately. You can see the annealer I am able to use is pretty big compared to my pieces. As the electricity involved is significant, I try to wait until I have a considerable number of pieces before running the kiln.

So I tend to concentrate on one type of glass at a time when I’m trying to be efficient. Since the Art Crawl is fast approaching, this will have to be it for soft glass until May. The next five weeks will have to be focused on borosilicate pieces. Hopefully I can get at least a few prototypes of some new chain link ideas made in time to show. See my Schedule page for Crawl details.


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1 Comment

  1. Cool… I never knew!


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