I work at a dual torch, which makes a mixture of propane and oxygen. A high temperature is needed in order to melt the glass.


A mandrel is prewarmed in the flame (if not the glass won’t stick). A glass rod is gently heated until  really hot and fluid.

 

 

 

When the glass is hot, it can be wound around the mandrel. I start with a footprint which determines the width of the bead. Then I can wind more layers around the footprint, enough to get a really nice round bead.  

 

 

It is important to protect your eyes when working at the torch. That’s why I wear special eyewear with didymium lenses. These lenses are necessary to prevent your eyes to get damaged. An advantage of these lenses is that they block the bright yellow flare so that you can see what you are doing.   


These pictures are made with a didymium lens in front of the camera, otherwise you wouldn’t see what I’m doing.

When there is enough glass around the mandrel the next step is to make sure that the glass is evenly divided around the mandrel so that the hole of the bead is nicely centred. Gravity and balance are the main tools.

 

 

When I’m pleased with the form, I let the bead cool in the tip of the flame. This makes sure the form of the bead won’t be disturbed when applying decoration. The core of the bead is still hot though.

 

 

Here I’m heating another glass rod and I’m placing dots on my bead.

 

For this design it’s important to place the dots equally around the bead.

 

When all the dots are in place they have to melt in completely. It’s important to be gentle with the heat, in order to keep the form of the bead.

 

When all the dots are melted in, I place transparent dots on top of them.

 

These transparent dots have to melt in completely as well. Now it’s time to cool the bead again in the tip of the flame.

When the bead is completely finished I put it in the kiln to anneal. The temperature of the kiln is set at 510C° during the hours I’m working at the torch. I always make the big focals in the beginning of a cycle so they can soak a real long time at this temperature.

 

After the session the kiln starts a cooling cycle and then the beads stay warm and cosy in this kiln until the next morning. Now all the stress is out of the bead and this ensures a good quality bead you can enjoy more than a lifetime!