About the Art
I started this page by trying to tell the entire history of glass but having typed out a good bit and barely scratching the surface...its an impossible task! So we are going to skip most of that with the simple note that glass is amazing! Humans have cherished glass for it's beauty and functionality for centuries now, all the way back to the stone age! From Mesopotamia, the Egyptians, to the Island of Murano, and of course the Romans. The art of glass has grown and evolved. OH and Glass workers used to be highly honored and as sign of that status carried swords around town! That Fact is very important, and is a general practice that could come back. Rose needs a sword! :)
Lampworking is a term that confuses many.
It is in reference to the heat source that is used to melt the glass. Rather then use a furnace melting large crucibles full of glass at a time(what most folks think of glass blowing). Smaller sections are melted at and shaped at a time and a "lamp" is used instead. This is a drawing of a lampworker from the 1800's. They literally used an oil lamp configuration and bellows to push the air through.
In comparison, the torches or lamps today are much more powerful. Here is a photo of my torch, I use a Bethlehem Bravo. It uses a mixture of propane and pure oxygen. I use several modified to a higher PSI medical oxygen concentrators to power her.
Lampworking can also refer to several different styles of working the glass. There is mandrel work with steel sticks, used to create both soft and boro beads. There is blown work, with tubes used to make scientific equipment and pipes using just boro. What I am doing however is called hand building, or sculptural work. Lot of what I do is using gravity and the heat to shape the glass the way I want it.
Borosilicate is the type of glass I work with.
It was developed in the late 19th century by a German glasswork Otto Schott Its melting point is 1,508oF a higher temp then soda lime glass, is less corrosive to chemicals This was a great step forward for scientific and home usage. It also has some huge advantages to an artist like me, it's not as likely to break with temperature changes(less shocky is what the artist say) so working larger pieces is possible. It also has an interesting color range that is different from soft glass.
Historically we are at an interesting time for boro glass! 10 years ago there was no colored boro glass and today it seems that every week a new color is hitting the market. The glass I use the mostly comes from these two companies. Glass Alchemy and North Star
I use a lot of precious metals in my glass work. This is one of my starry night pendants, silver silver leaf in clear glass. Twisted and shaped to swoop and swirl. I use larger pieces of silver to make stars in the back ground. In clear silver products beautiful blues yellows and silver sparkles.
I use gold mostly for fuming rather then directly into the glass. Basically Fuming is when at full out the hottest hardest flame I can get my torch, I hold a bit of gold on the end of a punty in front of the item or area I want to fume. The gold is melted down a the partials flung onto the glass. It sticks and it turns a wonderful shade of pink and gold.
Also use Gilson Opals, which is a very specific type of synthetic opal that is compatible with boro glass. They are the only type of opal that work in glass, and there is very limited stock of them as currently no one in the world is creating more. Kind of running on borrowed time for my moons.
There is so much more history to glass I can't possibly cover it all and have skipped much! If you are interested in learning more here are some references to start you out!